A Closer look at the $599 PC
It doesn't matter if you're building a $4,000 US PC or a $600 US PC; when it all comes down to it, you're really using all the same kind of components, just different speed versions. What we mean by that is that you still need stuff like a CPU, RAM and Video Card, but in a $4,000 PC you're using a HD 6990, where today we're using a GTX 550 Ti.
So with that said, it was time to sort out what the heart of our system would be. When it came to building it, I had my eye on the P67 platform. I'm just in love with this platform as it offers awesome speed and just a great feature set overall. The current lineup of CPUs and Motherboards are extremely strong and really do cater for many budgets.
While the $364.99 Maximum IV Extreme from ASUS was out of the question, the $189.99 P8P67 Pro wasn't. Well, it was maybe a little out of budget and the $35 cheaper P8P67 may have been a better option. But like they say, "Behind every good man is a better woman". Well, "Behind every good CPU is a better Motherboard". And really, ASUS is killing it lately, so we wanted to use something that we knew would do well.
The motherboard gives us loads of expansion options, though, and over the months or years you could turn your $599 PC into a more expensive and faster one thanks to the options that are available here. If you want to drop the ATX form, the P8P67-M Pro in mATX can also be a really nice option for $149.99.
Next it was onto the CPU and with our small budget an i3 1155 socket CPU was all we could afford. I haven't actually used the i3 CPU yet and was a little concerned about what a $124.99 i3 2100 could bring to the table. It's a long stretch from the 4.2GHz 980X and 4.8GHz 2600k setups I have here, but with a default clock speed of 3.1GHz it was going to be really interesting to see what we could get from the CPU.
The video card was an easy option because the whole system was based around the GTX 550 Ti. All it really came down to was which GTX 550 Ti we would be using. Considering we're on an ASUS motherboard and we were so happy with the ASUS GTX 550 Ti DirectCU that was reviewed here, we figured it to be the perfect choice.
With the main three components out of the way, there were really only a few more things needed to get the system up and running. For power we used the Corsair CX500 PSU which comes in at $59.99. It's a great little unit and perfect for this kind of a build. On the Hard Drive front we used a $61.99 Western Digital Green 1TB drive which while not being the fastest, does offer us plenty of storage room. On the RAM front we opted for a kit of the new Kingston HyperX Grey Series modules. These come in 4GB form and will set you back $49.99 at the time of writing.
At the moment that comes in at $636 US. A little over the $599 price tag we were aiming for, but what has probably tipped us over is the fact we opted for a good quality power supply over some cheap $20 case + PSU combo. The ASUS GTX 550 Ti Direct CU is also one of the more expensive GTX 550 Ti cards on the market.
Really, though, you're not going to squabble over $30 and if you play the cards right when it comes to rebates, you'd probably be able to save that little bit extra. Originally when we priced the system up we were under the $599 price tag and it's that reason why we opted to throw a $31.24 Corsair A70 cooler also into the mix. Not so much for the overclocking, but just so we knew our CPU would run nice and cool at low noise levels. With that, our PC comes in at $668, but it's an optional extra along with other little things like moving to the PRO version of the P8P67 motherboard from ASUS.