Tom's SBM: The $1,500 Mainstream PC

System Builder Marathon, October 2008: The Articles

Here are links to each each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published).

  • Day 1: The $4,500 Super PC
  • Day 2: The $1,500 Mainstream PC
  • Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
  • Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

When it comes to personal computers, what exactly is the “mid-range?” Unfortunately, the answer to that will vary a great deal depending on whom you talk to. Without a recognized standard as to what constitutes a mid-range price tag, we needed to arbitrarily decide where to set the benchmark for our middle-of-the-road system build. Based on a great deal of feedback from our readers asking for a $500 entry-level gaming PC option, we decided that $1,500 was a good mid-range price point.

This time, we’ve decided to include overclocking tests along with the original build. This way, overclockers can immediately see if our components play well together before shelling out the cash for a similar system.

As usual, let’s first look at the laundry list of parts, and then explain our rationale for choosing them:

$1,500 Mainstream System Components
Component Model Price (USD)
CPU Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 185
CPU Cooler Swiftech H20-220 140
Motherboard DFI Lanparty X38 175
RAM Patriot Viper 2x 2GB DDR2-800 Model PVS24G6400LLK 88
Graphics 2x ASUS Radeon 4850 TOP 360
Hard Drives 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500 GB ST3500630AS (1.0 TB total) 140
Sound Integrated 0
Network Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case CoolerMaster Cosmos 1000 180
Power CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W 130
Optical LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 24
Total Price $1,422

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  • Anonymous
    Nice job there but I must ask why did you opt for the X38 and not a P45 or an X48 mobo?
    Also I think that watercooling is a little bit out of the mainstream as most people use air cooling on their CPU's.
    And why did you choose the Cosmos? Although it is a good chasis it is a bit expensive and with other models that offer quiet operation such as NZXT's Tempest I do believe that the extra money could have been spent elsewhere on the mobo for instance.