|Budget Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|Video Card||2x ASUS GTX 560Ti||$500||-$40 +2xArkham City||$460|
|CPU||Intel i7-2600k Sandy Bridge (COMBO 1)||$315||-$10||$305|
|Memory||Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB 1866MHz||$83||-$40||$43|
|Power Supply||Mushkin 1000W PSU (COMBO 1)||$140||-$40 combo||$110|
|Hard Drive #1
||WD 1TB 7200 RPM||$90||Free Shipping||$90|
|Hard Drive #2
||OCZ Vertex SSD 60GB||$98||Free Shipping||$98|
|Optical Drive||Samsung Optical Drive||$19||Free Shipping||$19|
|Case||Thermaltake Chaser MK-I||$145||Free Shipping||$145|
|Bling Add-on||NZXT Sentry-2||$25||Free Shipping||$25|
|Liquid Cooling||Thermaltake Bigwater 760||$150||Free Shipping||$150|
Optional Add-ons (pick and choose as budget allows)
|Add-on Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Combined Total|
||Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium||$100||Free Shipping||$1895|
It's no secret that we're not typically huge fans of Gigabyte's brand of hardware, but believe it or not, they are capable of engineering motherboards that are more than just expensive disposables: the Gigabyte G1 series of boards has taken a new turn with their ammunition-stylized heatsink (we tested and confirmed that it unfortunately does not use live rounds) and are specifically targeting gamers for this hardware.
The G1 Sniper board's most noticeable feature is its aesthetics, but right after that would be its brilliant heat dissipating design, using carefully placed heatsinks to draw away the flame from your CPU and dual video cards as effectively as possible.
Additionally, the Z68 architected board does allow up to 32GB of memory, 2x PCI-e x8 slots in dual mode, 4xSATA 6Gb/s storage connectors, and tons of RAID configuration options. Most notably is the Bigfoot Killer E2100 LAN chipset, which means you will never be able to blame how much you suck on network lag (well, most of the time), enabling internal network speeds of 1Gbps or faster and -- if your external network allows -- it will help there as well.
This expensive board also includes an integrated, high-end audio processor to off-load some of those IRQs from your CPU (yeah, like you needed it), fancy BIOS, and full SLI support, as well as 3TB+ HDD capabilities.
It's not often that we get to use the plural of video card, but it sure feels right. As multi-GPU technology takes great strides forward and cross-game compatibility increases steadily, we can now say that SLI and CrossFireX - on the whole - are stable enough to use with most modern games. After checking several benchmarking tests and running a few ourselves, we've found that 2x560Ti cards in an SLI configuration run about10% faster (on average) than a single GTX 580, which translates to around 12 extra FPS. Sure, not huge, but that could be the difference between your future ability to play games on high or ultra.
The 560Ti cards that we chose are cooled by a dual-fan system and (as is standard) a massive heatsink, so there should be minimal overheating issues. The 560Ti uses a 256-bit memory interface -- by no means the largest, but certainly close enough for our uses -- and each has 1GB of memory; additionally, the ASUS version we've included comes with a free copy of the new Batman game.
You've come this far, you may as well get the best gaming CPU out there: the i7-2600k Sandy Bridge processor. Now, before the AMD fanboys start making a fuss, let's explain something about the whole 4-core, 6-core, 8-core deal: more cores is not better. Better architecture is better, which Intel currently has. The Bulldozer runs sub-par to the i7-2600k, especially given the i7's price, and will be overall underutilized by the vast majority of games (very few games are even quad-core optimized, much less hexa- and octo-core optimized).
All this sai, the i7-2600k operates coolly at 3.4GHz or 3.8GHz when uses turbo boost; it has a fantastic 8MB of L3 cache, integrated Intel HD 3000 video processor (to handle easy computations, you know, in case your 2x560Ti's get tired), and will handle almost any modern games effortlessly.
Patriot's been a reliable brand for a long time now, and while we haven't used them in a PC build lately, they've certainly earned their place with this memory: at an operating frequency of 1866 (PC3 15000) and with rebates and coupons that take the price down to $43, you'd be crazy to pass this up. Note that this deal does end soon, so if you check this article after it has ended, it's still fantastic memory -- but if you want cheaper, just check for 1866 speed RAM.
Might as well go for the full monte on this one: Mushkin has gained ground as one of the best gaming memory manufacturers out there, and we trust them when it comes to hardware -- that's why we're taking advantage of this CPU/Power Supply combo to reduce the price of an amazing PSU. This Mushkin PSU hums at 1000W and has plenty of connectors for all of your hardware (and future hardware), so no need to worry about expansions with this one. Besides, 1000W is sort of beastly -- but for a system using 2x560Ti's and with room for tons of future add-ons, you might as well spend the extra $20 for an extra 300W.
Solid State Drive:
For the first of two hard drives on this system, we've elected to go with the best SSD at its price range (and the fastest and most reliable) for this build: OCZ's Vertex 2. It may only be 60GB, but that's plenty for an OS and a few core programs that you want to launch rapidly. This drive will make use of the SATA II interface with its max sequential read of 285MB/s and max sequential write of 275MB/s.
Sadly, the drive is only rated for 2,000,000 hours of life. If you, like me, have decided to live longer than 228.159 years, you may have to find a different drive.
You've got the performance drive, now we need the storage and practical drive: that's where WD's Caviar Black 1TB drive (operating at a standard 7200 RPM) comes in. While it's unlikely the drive will ever use its full 64MB of cache (if even half of that is used), the drive itself is solidly performing and reliable for your data storage.
This optical drive isn't quite as advanced as this outrageous foray into new and innovative technology (we've seen benchmarks of the linked tech, and believe us, it is extraordinarily fast -- several times faster than optical drives), but it still performs moderately:
22X DVD Burner 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM
Oh, and thanks to forum member DT for the tip on such a crazy new disc-reading drive (apparently it uses silver plates of some sort for data management -- we've asked for review copies, but haven't yet received them; clearly the tech is very high demand at this point).
The case and subsequent add-ons (below) tie the entire build together. Thermaltake's Chaser MK-I LCS edition (liquid cooling pre-installed) isn't out yet, but their regular old Chaser MK-I is, and we've added the liquid cooling for you. This case is a monster, looks like something straight out of Battlefield 3 and will perform like a tank on Caspian Border. We recommend adding this 200mm fan to the side-panel of your armored-like case for increased cooling. Set it up as intake.
It wouldn't be a true BF3-styled case without stellar technology as the faceplate to coincide with Battlefield's attempt at redefining video game graphics. We recommend adding this fancy-shmancy NZXT Sentry-2 touch screen fan controller so you can show-off to your friends. Nothing wrong with more LEDs. Ever.
While this is optional (and you could save quite a bit by opting for a mechanical cooler instead), Thermaltake's liquid cooling system is bright, shiny, and insanely efficient; this gives you near-infinite overclocking potential without buying, you know, massive vats of liquid hydrogen. This cooler will take place of your CPU's stock heatsink and cooler, so feel free to beat it up as much as possible.
That's all for this build -- we hope you've enjoyed it as much as we liked making it. Just buy a few BF3 stickers and tape them on for added effect.
We have a $700-$1000 range PC build pending for this weekend, so check back for updates on that!