Dream Machine 2009: How To Build the Best PC For Any Budget!

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MdX MaxX

These machines were featured in my first September issue.  Ah, memories...

Holy crap, 256GB SSDs were $700 back then?  LOL now they're $400 with SATAIII and TRIM...

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Silk1001

Dont be ridiculous one way to keep the cost @ a miminum is to purchase parts on the way out. When i go to frys a pickup a Mb CPU combo I know that one or both of these parts are about to be phased out. Case in point AMD Athlon 2 X3 435 processor witth a Gigaybte GA- M68M-S2 Motherboard @ $69.99 plus a $10.00 rebate is a good start on a possible 4 core system. But dont expect the mainboard to be around very long.

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skulsa

I just finished building the mid-level PC, and got the parts for about $1200 using a combination of newegg and tiger direct. Just a few words of advice for anyone else planning to use these components: (1) install the components in the following sequence: MB into case; CPU and memory on MB; power supply into case; 26- and 8-pin power connections into MB; oversized cooler onto CPU; remainder of components into case. Be aware of two things when using the recommended case: the hard drive must be inserted into the case backward for the locking pins to fit and; the large exhaust fan must be removed from the case side panel for it to fit properly due to the oversized CPU cooler. If you try to assemble the components in the sequence shown in the article, the oversized CPU cooler will make it virtually impossible to connect the 8-pin power connection to the MB. So far I have not been disappointed with the performance of the PC or the Windows 7 OS, except for the fact that they have discontinued Outlook and require use of Windows Live for an e-mail service. I find that app extremely bulky to use.

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da_samman

OOPS, this was meant to be a reply to another's comment.  Please disregard.

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da_samman

You are correct, nekollx.  The motherboard mentioned in the article is no longer available at Newegg, and neither is the one listed in Best of the Best, so which mobo is the best choice?  The optical drive is out of stock at Newegg, the 1 GB version of the mentioned videocard is $149.99 while the 512 MB version of the card is $70 more.  I am uner the impression that the NZXT Tempest case was better than the Antec 900 and is just as inexpensive, the RAM listed retails for $95 at the cheapest at Newegg, and the cheapest DDR2 RAM is almost $70 at Newegg.  The author(s) of this article really need to go back and update their parts list for the low budget dream machine.  Plus, WHERE IS THE SOUND CARD?

Sincerely yours, from Fort Lewis, WA

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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da_samman

WAAH!  WAAH!  WAAH!  Quit whining.  So what if the Dream Machine doesn't cost $10,00+ this year?  The idea was to see how much dream machine they could get for varying budgets.  We ARE in some economically lean times now.  I myself would love to be able to build the sub-700 machine, all I need is the $$.

Sincerely yours, from Fort Lewis, WA

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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nekollx

 except in the few short monhts since this article the 700 machine is now worth 300 and its parts are no longer being sold. Seems kinda depressing for a dream to me...

------------------------------
Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

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Mir

I bookmarked this page a long time ago, thinking "hey, I might wanna learn how to build my own computer someday" 

 Referring back to it and looking at each of the parts in the list, I realized that much of this is outdated when searching on newegg showed that many of them were not even available anymore. I've never actually built my own computer before but a lot of my friends do it and I'm getting more and more into it, so I was wondering if anyone could make another "how to build a great pc with any budget" kinda thing with more recent parts and such, seeing as a bunch of new stuff has started to go on sale, while still keeping the budget part in mind. Be really awesome if someone did this :)

 -Mir 

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matthew.ickstadt

Look on bit-tech/anandtech's monthly buyers guides.

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nekollx

 and this is the sad part

no DREAM MACHINE should be "out of production"before the end of the year

------------------------------
Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

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vhernandez2005

I like the Antec 900 case, but would it be too much to ask if the inside of the case was black as well? I think that would be pretty sick if they made an all black Antec 900!!

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bloodgain

See the following review: Antec 900 Two

Just bought one for a Core i7-860 based machine I'm building.  The top fan is bigger than my hand at full spread.  Can't comment on how easy it is to install in yet, as I'm still in the prep stage of the build.

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akousticplyr

Anyone have more details about the 1.5 TB drive's failure rate being higher than normal?  Various tech blogs comment on firmware issues being resolved by an update.  But fully one quarter of reviews at NewEgg were one egg for recent and mechanical failures.  A few hundred reviews so far.... 

 

So- is this drive problematic?  Worth getting?  Steer clear and go Western Digital?

 

And does Max PC factor in failure rates with reviews?

 

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nameless4evr

Let me start out by saying first that I do really enjoy your magazine. 
But, for the last couple months I've been trying to find some real
justification for the quote "Dream Machine" you guys built.  There is
none to be found.  You have a "Lean Machine" issue which would have
been much better suited for that article.  We the readers, do not dream
about machines we can afford, We dream about machine that will have our
brains melting out of our ears trying to fathom how a machine that fast
is even physically possible...

We want a Uber-PC to be built. 
Check out page 59 of the August issue.  If you built it it could have
been stable and still totally kicked the "Dream's" behind.  The issue
after "Dream Machine 2009" in one of your reviews you make a statement
along the lines of "When a buyer moves in this price class they want
the best"  I know that is not how it was said, but the idea is the
same.....

Remember the big fight you had when you thought the
best of the best section was unnecessary?  This falls under the same
principle.  We want a "Maximum PC" built by Maximum PC. 

I know that you built this round of machines to be affordable, but that
falls out of the spirit for the build.   Please make it up to us.  
Save this round for lean machine.  The method used here would be great
for that issue.

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dmor996

New egg shows the DM budget mb as no longer avalible, what would someone suggest as an alternate? Also the best of best blu-ray player is no longer avalible.

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Mattirs

  My wife the other day was looking at the Dream Machine copy and said, honey we can afford this one and it even includes instructions on how to build it.   Thanks,  pricing parts now.

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Siggy28681

So how would you set up the SSD and the reguler hard drive? Would you use a raid 0 or somthing else or would you just keep the seprate? thx for the help.

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earthscapeone

Whether or not this year's machines fit everyone's definition of "Dream Machine" I found the article really useful.  My old, no-longer warranted motherboard just kicked the bucket a few days ago (hey, I thought the ASUS A8N SLI Premium was really good, but this IS the computer world, and it's an ancient board now), so I need a new MB/CPU/Memory combo, and the budget surplus stuff looks mostly do-able (and yes, I have been effected by the recession).  The only question I have is, where on earth did they get 6GB of Patriot Viper DDR3 for $79?  Everything I'm finding is more like twice that amount.

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Wolfgang

I have tried searching for this online with no luck. If anyone has a site where this can actually be bought, please let those of us interested know. Thanks.

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Magnasport

I liked all three boxes in this years dream machines but you didn't add sound cards to any of them. My question is; is the on board sound chips on par with the boards from Creative? If not then you guys forgot an important part of a real dream machine.

Jerry Bittner

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bradas

Where can I get the Dow Corning thermal paste TC-5600 ????

Did you mean to say you used Dow Corning paste TC-5688 ?

 I know this compound was developed exclusively for Intel but can it be bought by us end users ?

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82kat

ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE SPEED......

I got my issue a few days ago and the dream machine build was really good reading. Being that I am a first year full time IT student and a first to actually get into computers after being in the automotive/motorcycle fields for so long it will be a nice change to get into the new career choice. Anyway the budget build is what I am planning so I need some advice. The components used look all very good in all but I have a question. The case, can I use an old case I have that the hardware is shot or so I am told, to build my own just to save on the cost of a new case or not.? I am just looking into saving some money if I can.

Now if I can and it is something that is feasible where could I put the extra money into?, And I was also thinking of just saving the money to put towards my keyboard and monitor to. Any advice will be gladly taken and would be appreciated. Thanks 82kat...

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Mr.Mac

I for one was pleased with the lineup of this years Dream Machines.  While the machines of the past were loaded with goodies and great stuff, this years batch are what I would consider to be attainable by most of us.  I mean, most enthusiasts would probably chomp at the bit to build a ridiculously pimped out box if we had lottery money or something like that...however, the truth probably is that most of us would probably build something between the budget surplus and the stimulus package.  It's nice to see what you could build with unlimited funds, but I think this article illustrates that it's even better to be able to build something you can afford.  Great job!

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Barroc

If I was Donald Trumps son I would agree with most that the lack of a second mortgage Dream Machine is a bit dissappointing BUT I am frugual myself and usually spend less than 600 bucks on my new rigs so who am I to judge.  I usually have 3 rigs running in my home.  Mine, the wifes and my oldest son.  There is a trickle effect.  My wife inherets mine and the son hers.  The sons old one is a part machine for working on friends and family.  I usually save parts like case and psu cuz they will usually pass over to new rig just fine as well as optical drives.

 

Only thing is, I am an Intel lover.  So I wonder why they went for the AMD instead in the budget machine.  I figured a budget Quad Core would have cost about the same.  Just wondering if the performance would have matched.

 

I applaud MPC for putting out 3 lvls of pcs so that every one from different budgets can see what they can do.  With unemployment up to 10% some people can not even afford the magazine subscription so I am glad they did it this way.  

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MrHappyClam

Okay, so I get why a lot of people are disappointed with this years dream machines because they can be attained considerably easily. However I do like the fact that there are dream machines for each income and ability to do something with it.

Anywho. I have yet to build my own pc, although I have put what I can in my ancient desktop and finally decided to start from square one. I was PLANNING on building the budget surplus as it was "formulated" by maximumpc, but I was wondering if there are any modifications to their original plans to make it better if not cheaper, but around the same $1,500 ish range, lol, I don't have much cash to use up. I'm just curious really, cuz I don't wanna get stuck with a hunk of junk when all I had to do was buy one thing and not the other. Thanks in advance. ^^

(:) MrHappyClam (:)

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Siggy28681

So which is better? MSI DKA790GX used the D.M. or the  MSI Eclipse in the best of the best? Thx for the help.

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nerdman978

I agree with most of the people here on the lack of 'maximumness' to this year's dream machine.

 

But my biggest complaint is where is the water cooling? Every dream machine has ridiculous over the top water cooling, which is what makes it look cool and gives you the ability to overclock the hell out of it. This year's most expensive dream machine looks bare due to the lack of coolant filled tubes running everywhere.

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brannank

NOT A DREAM MACHINE folks, admit it MaxPC you blew this one; where's the over-the-top, bleeding edge tech filled, custom painted chasis with all the best periphrials that money can buy?! 

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bstorrey

First I will say that I love the mag and like most readers, the DM issue is me favourite.
I somewhat understand the logic behind the relatively budget builds this year. Although, the way I see it, the dream machine should be over the top. Most of your readers can't afford to build the DMs any other year so why should this one be any different? Besides in times like these those that are really hurting from the economy are the ones who can't afford $3500 right now so what is the advantage? But as I say I can understand your staff seeing it your way.

The part that really bothered me about DM09 was the three separate machines. This seemed to mean that you didn't go into detail about the parts used and why they were chosen like most years. I am pretty entry level so I don't know the advantages of one board over another. The only reason I came online after reading the print copy was hoping you had added details. Disappointing. 

I will keep buying the mag in hopes that you put more effort into making it a dream next year. Most importantly I want some detail.

And I do agree that non-time-sensitive articles such as this should take longer to get to the people getting the content for free than the loyal subscribers.

Thanks for listening.

Ben

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ronf57

ok, having been a system builder for many years and always looking for the best way to safely sqeeze power out of the hardware i could justify buying. Yes that means i usually will NOT buy the $1000 cpu or video card.

so i read i-7 greatest quad core cpu and the latest xeon cpu are as good if not better.

why does maxpc not build systems with xeon cpus - not ever!

nor does maxpc run comparisons of the i-7 vs xeon for performance.

so my question because no-one seems to run the tests...iis the i-7 or the xeon the chip to build with?

 

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gendoikari1

Speaking of Xeon, MPC should try screwing around with the Skulltrail dual-processor motherboard from Intel. It is made for the (unbelievably expensive) Core 2 Extreme QX9775 (which is just a QX9770 but missing 4 pins), but can also take Xeon CPUs. It's marketed towards the extremely high-end sector of the market, so it would fit nicely in MPC.

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lorencel

http://dl.maximumpc.com/Archives/MPC0908-web.pdf

They didnt use xeons but it is qx9775. It's one of my favorite DM they built.

======================================================= 

Intel i7 920 D0
EVGA X58 SLI LE
EVGA GTX 275 @ 713
PNY 9800gt PhysX
G.Skill 6GB DDR3 1600
CoolerMaster v8
CoolerMaster HAF 932
Thermaltake 850W BlackWidow
Seagate 2x500GB 7200.12 RAID0
Seagate 1.5TB

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dag1992

I think they try to make it desktop components, as server/workstation components don't fit the main demographic of Max PC readers. I do believe they used ECC RAM last time around if I remember right.

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sphotch

I'm not going to debate on if MaxPC dropped the ball on the "Dream Machines" but two things I have issue with. 1) No monitor(s). Previous years Dream Machines included monitors. 2) The cost of the OS. I realize that RC1 is free, but your Dream Machines will stop functioning early 2010.

Cost should have included the retail cost of Windows 7 Ultimate and at least one monitor. This would increase the cost of all three systems by at least $400 - $500.

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Bender2000

The zero point rig is about $1100, but if you added another $150 4870 Video card in crossfire to the budget special, would it beat the ZP and still be over $200 less?

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Primus2112

Dream Machine not.

 Also why no soundcards? I guess the MOBO sound is just as good nowadays?

And the silver case is a ugly silver with a black rectangle for a dream machine. Yucky.
I know that case rocks but maybe if it was all black. lol.

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Digital-Kid0101

I can't believe you hate that case! It's the best and you can get it in all black.

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Digital-Kid0101

Why do all of you guys have to whin about the dream machine, just because it's NOT $20,00 and you can't aford it. Be happy they gave you a guide to build a cheap / kick ass PC, isn't that what you in the first place kick ass performance without the huge bill?

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joeyjr

joeyjr

Speaking for myself, I am not winning, as a reader since the summer of 2003. I buy my copy at the book store and can not wait for the next copy. I love the magizine! If you have followed the Dream Machine for the last few years you would know what it is all about. Maybe you should go back and look at the PDF's of the Dream Machine's from the past. Every year the guys at Maximum PC have taken off the gloves and built the badest system the could at they time that any body would be able too build, if thay had the money. It has been one of the things that has set the magizine apart from the others. This years the Dream Machine's was made with the gloves on. Meaning, because of the economy, the system falls short of that standard that they have set in the past. I think that the system's they did build were very good for the money. If you were to compare them with other system builder venders products you would find that they are much more expensive for what you get for the money. The point is, that the Dream Machines for 2009 did not follow the standard that Maximum had set in the past that many people look forward to seeing every year. If you were to take your date to a five star restaurant and ordered the best food and wine that they offered, because money was no object, and the meal you got was ok, but it did not live up to what you were expecting and seamed somewhat lacking. You deside too complain to the manager. He tells you that, because of the economy, he desided to not use the best ingredients with his signature dishes because he thought poeple would feel more at home.

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Digital-Kid0101

Good job on this years dream machine.

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kiddcreole99

I have what I hope is a MaxPC response-worthy question that isn't useless banter about subscriptions vs online publishing, the less-than-expected Dream Machine article, or the my-build-is-better egotism.

Direct from the MaxPC mag and online "Best of the Best" list, the MSI Eclipse SLI that is listed as the best LGA1366 board was not used in the Dream Machine. Instead, the Asus P6T Deluxe 2.0 was used. So that leaves one to wonder...

 Is the Asus a better board than the MSI? If so, then why is the Asus board not listed on the Best of the Best list?

There are other parts that this same question applies to, but being in the market for building a new PC, this one is most crucial to me. 

Thanks in advance for any responses. 

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revolv3r

Can anytone tell me where the heck I can get an Antec 900 case for $77 - even if this price is not including shipping, I can get anywhere near is. $109 is neweggs sale price.

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ala.frosty

That case is $170 shipped from Antec and $120 from NewEgg. That's more like an $800 PC.

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joeyjr

joeyjr

I just finished reading the 108 comments that were posted at the time I saw them.

I ran some bench marks to see what people were saying.

   Likes= x, Dislikes=x, Other=x 

Negatives: For professionals who judge other venders stuff you could have done better and give the name Dream Machine. Also, it was a big let down for many.

Positives:  You guys built some pretty good systems that most people liked and wished they had.

Verdict 3    with a Dumb Ass Award

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cronjob

Hey, am I missing something?

Like, Wear are the monitors?

You guys built Dream Machines (3 of 'em mind you), and not a single thing to look at.  

Personally, If it was ME, I'd go for rack mounted pizza boxes if  I was building a headless server room.

 

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cronjob

So, what's with the blue "1st Responder Gloves"? 

Is that now an O.S.H.A. (occupational safety health administration) requirement?

And where is the anti-stat strap?

 

Hey wait, I have a great idea.  Combine the two.

 

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mitpatterson

Really guys, Why give the interwebs the full story before PAYING Subscribers even have their issue, i have had mine for only 2 days now, i got it Aug 1st, this was posted  a full 2 days before hand, come one guys, why should i subscribe if i can get it here free before hand, and the rest of the stuff is normally up within a few days/weeks. but latley the headlines have been up almost right away. One more fuck up and my subscritption is going bye bye, and so is my money

 

mitpatterson

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jjdeleon10

i'm a little confused, why is it that the $700 build only gets 22 fps on crisys while the "kick ass" $500 pc gets 36? The $700 build is oviously better in every way, better processor, ext.. any comments on that?

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jkpwnster

Different benchmarks, the $500 one used 1024x1028 and High settings I believe. I think the regular one's 1680x1050 with very high.

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vfxcorp

I've been a loyal reader of Max PC for several years and by far this is the WORST issue. Dream machine? Where? Bad Dream machine is more like it. C'mon it's pretty lame when you have a new i7 975 Extreme and you only clock it to a "conservative" 4 GHz. The 975 easily clocks to 4.5 GHz on air! Did the "Maximum" PC guys say "conservative"? I'm going to pretend I never heard that word. Truly the lamest issue ever.

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