System Builder Marathon, May '09: $1,300 Enthusiast PC

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cleeve

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[citation][nom]gabitu[/nom]Why Tom's Hardware is NOT GIVING AMD A CHANCE?????????????????????????It looks like Tom's is manipulating people with these articles to buy Intel products!!!!!!!!![/citation]

I'm calling BS on that.

In reality, our forum members chose this buid more than we did. And we came this close to choosing a Phenom II build, we had it spec'd out and everything.

But at the end of the day, we felt the i7 build for the same price was a better all-rounder. And you know what? It is.

We're going to recommend what we think will serve our readers the best for the price, and that's what we did.

If you want to see how close the Phenom II came to getting recommended, though, check the forum discussion out here:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/263800-31-weigh-system-builder-marathon-1250-microatx-components

There's no brand favortism here fellas, we're just trying to do our jobs. And in this case, I'm satisfied we did. Having said that, I'll be happy to spec out a Phenom II for the next SBM, if the readers make it clear that's what they'd like to see. Stay focused on the forums and when we're specing it out in the future, make your opinion known!

 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
[citation][nom]ifko_pifko[/nom]I just don't understand why the $2500 PC is equiped with intel stock cooler and this one with much better xigmatek... Also higher overclock of this system vs $2500 PC seems silly if you actually intend to compare them and calculate price/performance ratio.[/citation]

The $2500 system follows the micro-case theme and the $1300 PC does not. The smaller cases don't hold a big cooler.

[citation][nom]Proximon[/nom]This one is a bit of a nightmare. I can say that, I hope, because I contributed to the parts selection thread and feel partly responsible. The case is too cramped for the system. Who could have guessed on the cooler though?Maybe one of the top-down Scythes would have been better. The 650W draw was a bit of a surprise. Good thing it's a PC P&C.[/citation]

It's just a problem with the cooler being designed wrong. The Cogage True Spirit fits, which means the Thermalright True should also fit.

[citation][nom]doomtomb[/nom]Again with the lil DFI motherboard that could. Get a freaking Asus Rampage II Gene!!![/citation]

If Newegg had put the Rampage II Gene in its catalog under Intel Motherboards>Socket: LGA-1366>Form Factor: Micro ATX, you probably would have seen one in the $2500 build.


 

IzzyCraft

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Pretty sure they order the parts way before you even made your first comment on the 2.5k build they can't change it they are just writing the articles now that they are finished.
 

tipmen

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Why no love for AMD? i bet your going to use the 600 dollar computer to compete with the other higher end systems with the 400+ GPU set ups... Not much room to show off AMD's strengths in the gaming area
 

aerothorn

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Here's a question: I was planning on using the May 2009 System Builder Challenge as a guide for building my first PC, and portability is a plus for me (as I plan on moving it around), but I also really care about audio and am not satisfied with intergrated sound. I have a Soundblaster X-Fi from a previous machine - will this fit in a Micro ATX machine, or is it too large?
 

cleeve

Illustrious
Moderator
[citation][nom]Aerothorn[/nom]Here's a question: I was planning on using the May 2009 System Builder Challenge as a guide for building my first PC, and portability is a plus for me (as I plan on moving it around), but I also really care about audio and am not satisfied with intergrated sound. I have a Soundblaster X-Fi from a previous machine - will this fit in a Micro ATX machine, or is it too large?[/citation]

It'll fit in easy - as long as you're only using one video card. If you're using SLI or Crossfire, I'm thinking you couldn't squeeze it in there.
 

aerothorn

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Bummer about that - thanks for the info! Will probably build something between this system and tomorrow's - I'm guessing the budget system won't use SLI!
 

tapher

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Thanks for this great build example and all the insightful comments; the System Builder Marathon thread proves yet again to be a great place to share build tips, lessons, and creativity!

Great Job!
 

scook9

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So is tom's pretending the Asus Rampage II GENE doesn't exist because they could not find it easily on newegg? Pretty sorry guys....clearly WE all know about it, and newegg DOES sell it as you know. Oh, and using the exact same CPU and MB in a 2500 and 1300 build is kind of lame too. Should of at least used the Asus board for one and DFI for other.

And if you had used the Antec Mini P180, your cable management and space would be 10x easier and better. Wish I was making it up, but I just know, because I have 2x GTX 275, Asus Rampage II Gene, and a Mini P180. And oh ya, that has a REAL cpu cooler - a TRUE (and I was able to put 2, not 1 fan on it)
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
[citation][nom]scook9[/nom]So is tom's pretending the Asus Rampage II GENE doesn't exist because they could not find it easily on newegg? Pretty sorry guys....clearly WE all know about it, and newegg DOES sell it as you know. Oh, and using the exact same CPU and MB in a 2500 and 1300 build is kind of lame too. Should of at least used the Asus board for one and DFI for other.And if you had used the Antec Mini P180, your cable management and space would be 10x easier and better. Wish I was making it up, but I just know, because I have 2x GTX 275, Asus Rampage II Gene, and a Mini P180. And oh ya, that has a REAL cpu cooler - a TRUE (and I was able to put 2, not 1 fan on it)[/citation]

Pretending? No, if you don't see something you don't buy it. The parts were ordered a month ago and since the board wasn't listed, it wasn't even considered. Newegg doesn't always get things imediately after they're introduced.

And if Tom's had used the Mini P180, they'd have been building a MID TOWER. Look at the dimensions of the thing then remember that the minimum height for a full-ATX mid-tower is 17".
 

rambo117

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that pisses me off, when i saw the words "phenom II" i was all excited..
FINALLY A CPU SWITCH!!!!
oh wait... just same ol' i7 AGAIN

the $600 build BETTER have the words AMD on it or else Tom's..

hehe jk, great build
 

belial2k

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I've seen Tom's writers twice say they could not get the Asus board from newegg...I think its just a matter of where they are looking. It is in with all the other 1366 boards http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131371 ...I would say its a timing issue from when they ordered the build, but its been there for long time. Not complaining, just mentioned it in case they need a mATX board in the future and want to mix it up.
 

scooterlibby

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In terms of gaming only, I see little reason to blow $200+ on an Core i7 rather than purchase a pumped Core 2 Duo. If you do a bunch of multi-threaded stuff, have at it, but, by and large, dual is still where it's at gaming-wise.
 

rambo117

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[citation][nom]scooterlibby[/nom]In terms of gaming only, I see little reason to blow $200+ on an Core i7 rather than purchase a pumped Core 2 Duo. If you do a bunch of multi-threaded stuff, have at it, but, by and large, dual is still where it's at gaming-wise.[/citation]
amen.
a core 2 chip would more than suffice and be better as far as heat goes. or even a nice phenomII *AHEM*

...biased...
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
Usually I wouldn't say anything but these two articles have been a freaking joke. I read Tom's Hardware for professional reviews. If I wanted to read about woahs of noobs learning that a PCP&C Silencer doesn't fit into an mATX case, I would be reading Yahoo Answers or something.
All the cases in the series are Micro ATX, and all will support some capacity of PCP&C Silencer. Yahoo Answers couldn't give you a clue there. If you need a clue, take a look at the even larger power supply used in the even smaller Micro ATX case of the $2500 PC.

This poor builder took a bum steer from some enthusiasts when he asked which parts to use. The biggest problem with the PC Power & Cooling unit, when placed into his system, is that it doesn't have a lid-mounted fan. That's why I generally don't use PC Power & Cooling, even though they make an extremely durable unit.

You see, it's because he listened to people like you that he had this problem.
 

tychoblu

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[citation][nom]rambo117[/nom]amen.a core 2 chip would more than suffice and be better as far as heat goes. or even a nice phenomII *AHEM*...biased...[/citation]

Are you suggesting that if you were to spend 1300$ on a computer that will last you the next seven years, you would want an out dated cpu rather than a cpu that game designers will be targeting in the future? *cough, short sighted*

I've been pricing my next build on newegg for a while now, trying to get below 1300$ Only difference is I would have put in a 60gb OCZ Vertex ssd (I know ssd's do not increase fps but if you're waiting for a game to load you aren't gaming) and add the second video card in a year or two. Oh, and no on the micro ATX (lan parties = super geek).
 

NucDsgr

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Poor choice of components for an enthusiast micro-atx (an oxymoron) build. Don evidently does not have much experience building performance micro-atx systems.

I have a lot of experience with the Silverstone TJ08 case. This is a well made case with classy looks featuring a removeable motherboard pan which makes assembly relatively easy. It's two 120mm fans move 55 cfm of air through the case which is adequate for a Core 2 Duo or Quad builds with a upper-mid-range graphics card at normal loads. I have built two Core 2 Duo, and one Core 2 Quad systems with this case using Intel stock heatsinks and Intel DG965 and DG45 motherboards. CPU thermals I experienced with these builds were reasonable during Prime95 testing (~50C).

For this enthusiast build these fans are simply inadequate and should be replaced two EVERCOOL FAN-EC12025M12C 120mm fans moving 79cfm of air in series. Two could be ordered from NewEgg for $10. This only partially solves the cooling problems.

A fundamantal problem with this integration is this obscession with the Black Knight S1283 cooler. Although I understand the wisdom of using the Black Knight for overclocking the i720, with CPU temperatures at 100C this heatsink simply does not work in this build. I would suggest the Scythe SCKBT-1000 120mm Sleeve Kabuto 6 Heat Pipes CPU Cooler which blows air down on the power regulators and northbridge heatsink keeping them cool as well as the i720. The Kabuto 6 is going to cool the i720 and the motherboard components far better than the Black Knight in this build.

The TJ08 is rather pricey at $99 and there are better-valued choices for an enthusiast rig. If you must use a micro-atx case, I would suggest the inexpensive Rosewill R101-P-BK at $25. Though not as nice as the TJ08, this is a well made case that is easy to work with. It has slightly more internal space than the TJ08 case. It comes with a single 120mm fan that moves 75cfm of air. I would have added a second fan up front (an Evercool EC12025M12C moving 79cfm of air for $6). Then take that $69 differential towards a better single graphics card solution.

The graphics solution I would suggest to replace the two BFG GeForce GTX cards ($340) with a single SAPPHIRE 100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB GDDR5 card for $380 (after $10 mailin rebate). This card will simply blow-away the two BFG 260GTX cards in SLI, and have better thermal performance because this card will be attached to the upper PCI-express slot and gets its unobstructed intake air at the front of the case.

Make these changes, you will have a formidable micro-atx enthusiast rig for $1300 which has better graphics and themal performance that this absurd integration.
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
[citation][nom]p4l1ndr0m3[/nom]You are right, the first case was technically smaller, but you can clearly see about 1.5-2 inches of space in front of the PSU for the cables to come out. The first case didn't have to be dremeled in order to fit the PSU![/citation]


The real problem with the PSU is its lack of modular cabling. I could have forced that PSU into place by simply clipping the cable tie to make the bundle more flexible, but getting rid of the spare cables is a futile effort.
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
[citation][nom]p4l1ndr0m3[/nom]I see that voicing any negative comments about a Tom's article results in a series of thumbs down voting. I can live with that. My comments were directed at the reviewer anyway.Whether anyone agrees with all of my points or not, the general consensus seems to be that this system builder marathon is off to a poor start. At least we know there wont be an i7 920 in the next build...[/citation]

You'd crap if they found a way to make a $625 Core i7 build.

The first system was a spin on the Micro ATX cube theme, where the author picked a case of the same "size" and similar layout to make points about things like width and footprint. You might like the last system better.
 

NucDsgr

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[citation][nom]Crashman[/nom]The real problem with the PSU is its lack of modular cabling. I could have forced that PSU into place by simply clipping the cable tie to make the bundle more flexible, but getting rid of the spare cables is a futile effort.[/citation]

I ordinarily do not post on this website but this build is so absurd that I felt compelled. Micro-ATX is just not designed for enthusiast gaming. It's designed for undemanding, inexpensive office and home computers with a motherboard with on-board graphics and 1-2 PCI cards are employed. A performance enthusiast micro-ATX build is simply an oxymoron -- like "military intelligence" or "a person is unique -- like the rest of them".

An enthusiast gaming platform is normally based on ATX form because of the extra space, better airflow, and additional devices (like SLI) that are allowed. The micro-ATX is not designed to handle the heat loads that ATX can handle.

In my earlier post, I did not mention a better power supply that could have been used to mitigate the thermal performance problems. I was more concerned about the more important changes that would have made this build work (more powerful case fans, better heatsink, cheaper case, more powerful single card solution).

I would have replaced the PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75QB with an SeaSonic M12 SS-700HM 700W Modular Power Supply. This Seasonic has a bottom fan and modular cables which would have improved air-flow. However, this replacement probably would have exceeded the $1300 budget of this project despite the $69 savings from using the Rosewill case.


 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
[citation][nom]NucDsgr[/nom]I ordinarily do not post on this website but this build is so absurd that I felt compelled. Micro-ATX is just not designed for enthusiast gaming.[/citation]

Can you back that up with something BESIDES generalizations? Look at ATX. Chop off the bottom three slots. Viola, Micro-ATX.

The typical complaint in the forums has been absurdities such as "Micro ATX doesn't support enough DIMM slots", etc. These reviews addressed those absurdities, but now we have to take on generalizations?

Antec has a 17.x inch tall Micro ATX tower that has most of the room of its 19.x Full ATX towers. Sure, it's missing a couple internal drive bays compared to the big tower, but hardly anyone needs six hard drives.

So you take away 3 slots and a couple drive bays...I don't see how that limits gaming or performance.

But that's not what came into the suggestion box. The site answered a request for compact systems that focused on portability. Get this: Micro ATX doesn't mean portable, therefore Micro ATX doesn't mean "performance limited".

To say that Micro ATX is INTENDED to have onboard graphics is a lie. Micro ATX motherboards typically have onboard graphics because it's cheaper than a graphics card, and most Micro ATX systems are cheap. But the intent of Micro ATX is to provide all the capabilities of ATX...except with fewer slots. That intent doesn't imply the system is cheap, it implies the system is smaller.

Micro ATX is smaller than ATX. And the difference is only around 2.5 inches. And that difference is only in height. So the question is, why not use Micro ATX?

And if you're about to provide a list of lame generalizations again, don't bother. As I've already said, few people need more than four expansion slots, and few people need to support more than two or three hard drives. Any other differences in today's cases are not a fault of Micro ATX, they're design features used to make the systems smaller and more portable.
 
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