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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tom's Hardware System Builder Marathon

Every quarter, Tom's Hardware sets out to investigate the PC hardware market. Armed with three budgets - usually $500, $1000, and $2000 - they assemble three builds and compare overall performance and value. We're right in the middle of the August System Builder Marathon this week. On Monday they showed off a $500 gaming PC. Tuesday highlighted a $1000 enthusiast PC, and today showcases a $2000 performance powerhouse.

I always look forward to reading these articles every few months. When you're a PC gamer on a budget, building a computer is all about balance. Reading reviews of $500 video cards is great, but if you're planning on pairing that GTX680 with a dual-core i3 and 2GB of RAM you're going to be disappointed. Tom's does a great job of demonstrating what you can get for your money using currently-available parts. They're experiments, and they're not always perfect, but that's the beauty of it: read a few of these and you'll get an idea of what percentage of your budget you should devote to each part to get the performance you desire.

Tomorrow they'll take a look at the overall value of each build and compare the performance of all three, and it looks like on Friday we'll see a extra "surprise" $2000 build. Spoiler alert: they chose to go with a GTX670 in the $2000 build this quarter, and while it was an all-around solid machine you'd expect to get a little more gaming performance for two grand. I'm guessing they'll drop down from an LGA2011 SB-E setup to an Ivy Bridge i7 and either go with a single 680 or two 670's. Either way it'll be interesting to see what happens.


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