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System Builder Marathon: Day Three

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May 10, 2007 11:39:49 AM

We've already built and benchmarked low ($525) and mid cost systems ($1,255). Today's high-end gaming system goes for $3,590. Check it out!
May 10, 2007 12:11:25 PM

I say that the high-end build looks quite good, except for the fact that the QX6700 needs 1 minute in the BIOS to match a X6800 in solo- and dual-core applications. The multiplier is unlocked; just bump it up one (or more) and you'll have an equivalent. Its not very much more either... the price is the same between X6800 and QX6700; $970 at NewEgg--free shipping on both.

Anyways it looks OK but out of reach of most people; I'd have changed the mid-priced build a little bit too (E6420, 320GB hard drive) and dropped the price a little bit.
May 10, 2007 12:19:35 PM

For $3,600 I could build two or three machines, including my new build. I just don't see the point of spending that much money on a computer. Then again, $3k is rent for 4 months.
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May 10, 2007 12:40:10 PM

I think it will open eyes when they show the benchmarks vs cost tomorrow, triple the price for 10% gain??? Get real guys.
May 10, 2007 1:22:50 PM

High end is high end for a reason.

I mean, does ANYONE really need a bugatti veyron? It's the fastest car made, but can only run for 12.5 minutes before running out of gas. Does anyone NEED that? no... but is it top of the line? yes.


I am kind of surprised they chose such an ugly case though. There are other high quality cases out there that don't look like they cost $35 at a local computer store.
May 10, 2007 1:32:21 PM

Quote:
I think it will open eyes when they show the benchmarks vs cost tomorrow, triple the price for 10% gain??? Get real guys.


For sure it will open eyes... that's the point.

There are alot of folks out there who assume performance scales with the amount of dollars spent. The system builder marathon will show those people how it is...

...in addition, there are also those out there who have the money and want to spend it on the latest and greatest. For them, we have data showing what they're getting for being on the sharp edge of high performance.

Just because your average user doesn't find a high-end system like this 'cost effective' doesn't mean people don't buy them, or aren't interested in seeing how they perform.
May 10, 2007 1:35:56 PM

Nicely done guys. It is a nice build and I happen to like the case. I prefer the clean look as opposed to the busy look. I always like to have non descript systems that blow the pants off of fancy looking ones.

AS for the choice of system parts, I'm surprised that we did not see an opteron or a Xenon in there. They opteron is undoubtably the fastest thing out there and the Xenon is just behind it, but I guess that would get us into the workstation space.

I am just bursting with fruit flavors waiting for the final articles !!!
May 10, 2007 1:38:36 PM

I would like to see a mixed build. 2 8800 GTX in SLI with a mid-range CPU, 1 7200 rpm HDD, value brand 2*1 GB DDR2-800 RAM, and a $50 sound card. So much money can be saved with a minor performance impact in terms of FPS.
May 10, 2007 1:39:52 PM

Quote:

I am kind of surprised they chose such an ugly case though. There are other high quality cases out there that don't look like they cost $35 at a local computer store.


Heheh.

Well, when Thomas and I were discussing the case, we figured a Lian-Li was a safe bet because of the quality.

But cases are like paintings: What you hate, the next guy might love, so in these builds the case is more a safe suggestion than something you'd die without. :) 
May 10, 2007 1:40:11 PM

Quote:
I think it will open eyes when they show the benchmarks vs cost tomorrow, triple the price for 10% gain??? Get real guys.


IDK where that 10% came from. Check out the FEAR 2560x1600 4xAA/8xAF. Went from 16 to 83. That's somewhere around 420% increase, for a 200% price increase.

All I'm saying, if you game like that then the high end is a) the only one that can b) a better value. Odd... maybe the benchmarks vs cost will open eyes ;) 
May 10, 2007 1:41:57 PM

Quote:
I would like to see a mixed build.


In the final article we fitted the low-end 3800+/1GB of RAM machine with an 8800 GTX and called it the 'Budget Gamer's Special'. Then we pitted it against the e6600/8800 GTS combo which costed more money...

Very interesting results. :) 
May 10, 2007 2:11:46 PM

Quote:
I would like to see a mixed build.


In the final article we fitted the low-end 3800+/1GB of RAM machine with an 8800 GTX and called it the 'Budget Gamer's Special'. Then we pitted it against the e6600/8800 GTS combo which costed more money...

Very interesting results. :) 

stop making us wait!! tell us!! :) 

great articles. I love seeing the discussion sparked as well, you really get some good input and ideas based on what different users want out of their system.

I guess I must be an oddball requiring much more hard drive capacity than most people here. I bought an antec900 case just because it had 6 hard drive bays and fantastic cooling. Mind you, I'm only running 1 500gb hard drive and a 320gb for data. :) 
May 10, 2007 2:41:38 PM

Quote:

I am kind of surprised they chose such an ugly case though. There are other high quality cases out there that don't look like they cost $35 at a local computer store.


Heheh.

Well, when Thomas and I were discussing the case, we figured a Lian-Li was a safe bet because of the quality.

But cases are like paintings: What you hate, the next guy might love, so in these builds the case is more a safe suggestion than something you'd die without. :) 

I was expecting something more like a TT armor series... quality + beauty
May 10, 2007 2:47:37 PM

Quote:
For $3,600 I could build two or three machines, including my new build. I just don't see the point of spending that much money on a computer. Then again, $3k is rent for 4 months.


I don't know where you live, but around here $3,000 gets you no more than 1 month mortgage in a single family home, 1.5 months mortgage in a condo / townhome or 2.5 to 3 months rent in an apartment, lol.

I do agree the cost could be trimmed down a bit, though I personally lean more towards AMD which in itself saves $$$ over Intel generally. Each platform has it's own strengths and weaknesses clearly and with that said, I believe most people unless they have deep pockets would probably go the cheaper route. Whether that be a comparable high end AMD or slightly cheaper Intel variation. Just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions. :-)

I'm sure there will be a ton of replies to this article and alot of "here is what I would change; or here is what my configuration would be" postings in the days to come. Hehe.


-- MaSoP
May 10, 2007 2:55:04 PM

Obviously this system isn't for everyone. They call the segment enthusiast for a reason: you loose all price judgement for getting the latest technology.

I would rather get the mid-range system and throw in a 8800GTX and that's it. I would have a PC that be good enough for the next five years at $300 a year. The higher end system would cost $718 a year only to play today's games at the highest resolution possible. And I think I'm giving our systems a longer use-life-span than most home users give to their PC's. I like to renew my entire rig every 3 years or so...

Get the mid-range and use the extra bucks to buy the games! You don't NEED such components (even though you WANT them).

Peace.
May 10, 2007 3:14:23 PM

Quote:
Today's goal is to build the ultimate gaming system for a relatively high (but not completely unlimited) budget.

Hmmm... So you guys "weren't" going to stuff $20,000 into a tower enclosure? Now that takes the fun out of it for some...

Let your mind loose, and for the same price as a good Mustang GT convertible, you could put together one hell of a machine useful for more than just gaming. Mind you, if I had to choose, I would of course take the tire-screeching topless V8. Seems even Ford at the brink of bankruptcy is a more attractive and sound investment than leading-edge IT.

But back to the article, I was surprised of the good results considering the $3,600 budget. I wonder how much "more" performance a $5,000 build would have produced and how much better it would do overclocked.
May 10, 2007 3:17:45 PM

But you didn't include the cost of the OS... :lol:  Just kidding.

I still would have preferred the quad core but I respect you're reasoning especially considering everything is stock clocks.

I would be interesting to see how all three systems compare on price performance at stock and again overclocked. When considering the low and mid range prices many of us on these forums are selecting components that are overclock friendly. Overclock or not the high end will still distinguish itself with the 2 gtx's in sli.

Overall good job on the marathon, next time someone at work asks what blah blah to get I'll probably reference this.
May 10, 2007 3:57:57 PM

solid... I am a lian-li fan but not a big one of that particular case. In fact, I like the silverstone better from the midrange. JMO of course, as it is subjective like you said. ;) 

Like the soundcard (dubious valued memory and all), but still waiting on an explanation of one missing in the midrange. You qualified the choice for onboard on the low end one and I agree... I am just wondering why the absense of one on the midrange. Really would like to know the logic behind it. (if there was any ;)  )

Regardless, this one is certainly high end. Looking forward to seeing what the gamer's special will do. 8O
May 10, 2007 3:59:26 PM

Quote:
But you didn't include the cost of the OS... :lol:  Just kidding.

I still would have preferred the quad core but I respect you're reasoning especially considering everything is stock clocks.

I would be interesting to see how all three systems compare on price performance at stock and again overclocked. When considering the low and mid range prices many of us on these forums are selecting components that are overclock friendly. Overclock or not the high end will still distinguish itself with the 2 gtx's in sli.

Overall good job on the marathon, next time someone at work asks what blah blah to get I'll probably reference this.


I personally rely on stock settings for stability, reliability and the lack of a need to spend extra $$$ for a "better than stock oem" cooling solution. If I had the time and was more deep into gaming and had the wallet to become an enthusiast, I'm sure I'd probably opt for a bit of OC'ing. To each their own I suppose. :-) It's all good.

-- MaSoP
May 10, 2007 4:03:57 PM

Quote:
I think it will open eyes when they show the benchmarks vs cost tomorrow, triple the price for 10% gain??? Get real guys.


For sure it will open eyes... that's the point.

There are alot of folks out there who assume performance scales with the amount of dollars spent. The system builder marathon will show those people how it is...

...in addition, there are also those out there who have the money and want to spend it on the latest and greatest. For them, we have data showing what they're getting for being on the sharp edge of high performance.

Just because your average user doesn't find a high-end system like this 'cost effective' doesn't mean people don't buy them, or aren't interested in seeing how they perform.

Overall, I liked the article. Only real thing I'd change in it would be to add a comparitive test with only one graphics card. Then we could see what, if any, advantage there is in going SLI, especially considering the price/performance ratios.

Oh yeah, like someone else metioned, I didn't care for the case. But big deal, the case doesn't affect performance of the hardware, unless its so restrictive on airflow that the hardware overheats .
May 10, 2007 4:07:21 PM

you can still do a "bit of OC'ing" with stock cooling. I have a 200mhz oc on my 4200, which puts it at a 4600 level of performance. Nothing big, and perfectly stable. No temp diffs between that and stock. (at least nothing that speedfan detects)

meh, anyway... try it sometime. Then if you get bit by the bug you can buy more. ;) 
May 10, 2007 4:13:31 PM

Overclock. OVERCLOCK!!! :) 

Overall a solid build......can't complain for that money. Honestly, the higher you go in budget, the more subjective the choices......Crucial, Corsair, Team Group....all solid RAM choices. Lian-Li, Silverstone, Thermaltake....all solid cases. ETc, etc, etc. So really, the choices are somewhat irrelevant (somewhat) once you get into the $3K + stratosphere budget.

My guess for the roundup:
People will see that dropping 3x the money isn't worth it, unless you need a bigger e-p3nis than the next guy....in which case, money is no object. But for the vast majority of users, the "mid range" build is more than sufficient. For the cost of going up to a "high end", we could all get a 22" monitor, G15 keyboard, DeathAdder or G7 mouse, 5.1 speakers, some games, Internet for 6 months, and still have more than enough left over to get pizza and drinks for months.

So, excellent series, looking forward to the roundup and....overclocking with comparative performance-price analysis? ;) 

Someone, somewhere, has got to copy the midrange specs (and options) and sticky it into the Homebuilt section to combat the thousand "What Can I build for $1500" posts that have no end in sight.......... :roll:


Thanks guys.
May 10, 2007 4:16:38 PM

Does it come to anyone's mind that the oblivion test seems more CPU limited than graphics?

Ok its true that the fps drops when we switch from a indoor scene to a outdoor one, but taking a 2nd look at the results shows something interesting, there's only a 3 fps difference between the 1024x768 outdoor test and the 2048x1536 test.

c'mon what do you think? (=
May 10, 2007 4:26:20 PM

How about a super cheap build around a single core Sempron AM2 3000+ then overclock the puppy (just air cooling) and put in the 8800GTX and see what it does. How low can you go? Of course with a dual core going for about $30.00 more it is kinda hard to justify even messing with the old sempron but I'm just curious. :wink:
May 10, 2007 4:27:36 PM

It would be interesting to benchmark an "Ultimate" system" constructed with the best/fastest components of each type and see what the performance comparison would be.
May 10, 2007 4:30:09 PM

There is also only a 6 fps difference in the outdoor across the board. Thats only about 3%. Which seems pretty insignificant to me. :)  Interesting observation.
May 10, 2007 4:32:30 PM

ho hum article on a mid range sytem they consider high end enthusiast.....

1. Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core. The "overall" benchies would surpass the dual core installed if averaged with the benchmarks they choosed, which are to say the least, are multi core savy.

2. They left no headroom for upgrading really. Every Intel CPU architecture requires a new chipset....I was expecting an AMD killer machine with no holds barred.

3. They should have used Vista U 64 and tweaked from there, the Creative Labs sound card may have issue's there, but hey, that is not the only card out there, just the most well known.

4. The PSU is top notch, I'll grant them that, but that also was laying around for them use in the system build I bet. Speaking of which....the monicker "Marathon" left me with the impression they had a dead line and had to do some "overnighters" to complete there article.


I was expecting something that would compete with Falcon-Northwest, Voodoo or BOXX. I know, I expect to much don't I !

This is all JMHO of course people and THG.

VQ
May 10, 2007 4:34:39 PM

I'd kind of wish the cost of the OS was included. I always see articles about budget PC's that never include OS's cost so when looking to build a budget PC I've got a price in my mind based of these articles. When pricing out the system it's always off because in the real world you'd need some sort of OS to run on top.
May 10, 2007 4:50:57 PM

Quote:
It would be interesting to benchmark an "Ultimate" system" constructed with the best/fastest components of each type and see what the performance comparison would be.


I don't believe Tom's would ever have the budget to afford $8,000 to $10,000 or so of hardware for one ultimate top of the line build for benchmarking, lol. The one exception would be perhaps some type of promotion they might be able to secure from an oem builder like falcon northwest, alienware, or some of the hardware manufacturers, etc. I know I'd have serious issues trying to justify that to the purchaser here at my work, heh.

I suppose on the flip side of the coin, I'd be interested in also seeing the absolute cheapest build possible (cheaper than their previous $300-$350 build recently) with modern hardware, with "future upgrade ability" placed on the back burner for sake of being the "cheapest available". I assume that would be a home/office only type of machine, as most cheap boxes can't push the graphics on half the games out there today. Just a thought.

-- MaSoP
May 10, 2007 5:12:17 PM

I'd like to see pictures of the case they used for this build with the two GTX cards installed. I have the black version of the case, the PC-60B Plus II, and I don't think there's room for one GTX card (let alone two) with the hard drive cage installed. If they took out the hard drive cage to install the video cards, then mounted the hard drives in the 3.5" bay, then it'd be very possible.
May 10, 2007 5:17:58 PM

If $3600 can gets you a "Ultimate Gaming Rig" what would a $5500 system be called? My last system build totaled almost $4800 and that was without an OS or a monitor. The next system build in mid '08 I have budgeted $6000, although a little less than $1000 will go toward water cooling components. Even though I spend a lot of money on my computers they average a 3 year life-cycle with usually only an upgrade to the CPU and video card.
May 10, 2007 5:45:05 PM

I hope theres a fourth day in that marathon. Looks like toms got some limited resources. With a high end build based on a stock x6800, air cooling, raid 0 using nvidia integrated solution, pc8000 memory and not even a KW PSU.

I thought high end pc wouldbe a fully load mozart tx with a secondary ITX motherbard. An overclocked quad core, raided raptors, water cooling blu ray writers etc............

Not really high end!!!!!
quite disappointed
May 10, 2007 5:46:41 PM

Very good article. Though like many have said i wish AMD was included in this although AMD is behind intel currently. My next system build is at the end of 07 and i hope i can stick it out with AMD but intel seems to be the choice these days.. But before i do my new system i wanted to just upgrade my Geforce 6600GT to a Geforce 8800GTX. My CPU is a AMD 3500+ Venice core.. I was wondering if i bought the 8800 would the GFX card bottleneck the CPU? I'm also running 2GB's of Corsair XMS-Pro series RAM. Anyone?
May 10, 2007 5:49:58 PM

Quote:

I am kind of surprised they chose such an ugly case though. There are other high quality cases out there that don't look like they cost $35 at a local computer store.


Heheh.

Well, when Thomas and I were discussing the case, we figured a Lian-Li was a safe bet because of the quality.

But cases are like paintings: What you hate, the next guy might love, so in these builds the case is more a safe suggestion than something you'd die without. :) Sorry, it looks solid and is that all aluminum? Protz gave no clue as to what he considers a good looking case (Alienware? Icky) Simple and solid wins the day, plus with some bling "fire" LEDs going from purple to blue to red to yellow behind the cooling vents on a black version of that case you would change your tune.

Quote:
ho hum article on a mid range sytem they consider high end enthusiast.....
Riight, and you would have them do what? You don't say below.

Quote:
1. Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core. The "overall" benchies would surpass the dual core installed if averaged with the benchmarks they choosed, which are to say the least, are multi core savy.hmm, yes, but how to buy an unobtainable Quad core and it would be worse for games.

2. They left no headroom for upgrading really. Every Intel CPU architecture requires a new chipset....I was expecting an AMD killer machine with no holds barred.
[/b]
Fair, I specced a system with 6 500GB Samsung drives and 4 SATA hard drives and the top 3Ghz FX platform and the PC Power 750 yesterday and I came up with about the same price, in a Lian Li V2000 case no less (12 HDD bays in a seperate compartment, I have seen that compartment used for an in-the case compressor cooling: http://www.under-the-ice.com/index.php?cPath=41 ), I used a VIVO 7600GT and a PCI Video capture card because I was going for a video editing machine (if there were PCI-E capture cards I would have used an 8600 for the video acceleration, it is a workstation build).

Upshot is that I could have ditched half or more of the HDDs and done 8800GTS SLI for the money, the Quad-core FX platform is in the running at this price range, and TG daily just reported on the 8-core "Wahoo" FX platform for upgrade-ability. 2X FX 3.0Ghz = $800, the motherboard is certainly in the same bracket as the one they used. Obviously they didn't have this on hand, I wish that TH wasn't so big, we expect big things, it would be nice if the feel was a little more homely so when we get the title of the article it isn't inflated in our expectation of what the resources are going into it.

In fact a single compressor-cooled dual-core @ 4.5Ghz would be nice to see in that price range, you could even water-cool the SLI GPUs and then see a real system for that price.

Quote:
4. The PSU is top notch, I'll grant them that, but that also was laying around for them use in the system build I bet. Speaking of which....the monicker "Marathon" left me with the impression they had a dead line and had to do some "overnighters" to complete there article.

It IS an awesome supply, especially for the money, see its competition (6-rail [WTF?!?] Cooler Master "850" for $250), and it is the only choice, plus with the FX platform and Quad SLI you can actually use those 4 SLI connectors :) . Whoops, forgot that the GTX sucks on two per card, nuts.

Quote:
I was expecting something that would compete with Falcon-Northwest, Voodoo or BOXX. I know, I expect to much don't I !
Not as much as I do apparently, see the above compressor-cooled Vapoli v2000 case, it promises 5-15° cooler than Asetek or Prometia (and delivers, the man is skilled at his craft), while looking very very slick entirely enclosed in a Lian-Li case.

Quote:
It would be interesting to benchmark an "Ultimate" system" constructed with the best/fastest components of each type and see what the performance comparison would be.


I don't believe Tom's would ever have the budget to afford $8,000 to $10,000 or so of hardware for one ultimate top of the line build for benchmarking, lol. The one exception would be perhaps some type of promotion they might be able to secure from an oem builder like falcon northwest, alienware, or some of the hardware manufacturers, etc. I know I'd have serious issues trying to justify that to the purchaser here at my work, heh.

I suppose on the flip side of the coin, I'd be interested in also seeing the absolute cheapest build possible (cheaper than their previous $300-$350 build recently) with modern hardware, with "future upgrade ability" placed on the back burner for sake of being the "cheapest available". I assume that would be a home/office only type of machine, as most cheap boxes can't push the graphics on half the games out there today. Just a thought.

-- MaSoPDitto, except the best choice is a minimum of 512K onboard and the highest multiplier you can get, in fact a pair of 512 DDR2 modules might enable you to build a $300 system that still works, especially if you don't skimp on the motherboard and grab the DFI infinity AM2, a $52-56 Orleans core @ 1.8-2.0 Ghz is a good chioce, even though the Brisbane x2 is $59 there is no heatsink and that puts it firmly out of the running. With the DFI bootable at 440mhz frontside you can hit whatever the processor can do, assuming 10x multiplier on the Orleans, that would be 4.4Ghz if it would do it, probably 2.4-2.6 in real life, for under $300!!

Also, the 7300GT DDR3 is in the running at the bottom rung of the performing cards. Most mid-range products have more GPU than RAM bandwidth, see vr-zone.com for comparisons of max overclock on the RAM of the video card, the most gains are usually seen there, with some gain with a core clock on the card. The PCI-E bus can/should be clocked at 120-130 or higher (the DFI supports this) for cards with less ram, or when the bottleneck is the PCI-E bus, I nearly doubled the performance of a turbocache 6200 just with Ram clocks and 130mhz PCI-E clocks, it is possible to play around with them because they are $25-30, and the technology is the same, so the results scale to higher processors. An unlockable 6200 to 6600 with 256MB of RAM is also a very good choice for the ultimate budget system (not an oxymoron, what if you are a teenager and want to build or upgrade your own system?)

COOLING:

Could we Please lose the crap HS/Fan combos, that ridiculous TEC cooler isn't the best choice. See here: http://www.anandtech.com/casecooling/showdoc.aspx?i=298...
Edit: Nevermind, I will need to see what the actual tests prove out on the cooler you used, still looks bad and is too complex. A big budget build doesn't mean you need to use silly looking and performing (and price) parts, the best tech is probably still competitive price-wise and usually isn't blinged out.

The review I find is not entirely promising: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/491/7/

Since the point of Air-cooling and Water cooling is the same: transfer of heat to air, the best heatpipe system is likely to equal most water systems with a properly ventilated case. Unfortunately for TEC heatpipes the energy of the TEC is used to add to the heat trying to be dissipated by the heat-pipes and the air, so the straight and solid route is simple heat-pipe technology, as proved by the Ultra 120 eXtreme. The regular Ultra 120 is even less than half the price and performs better: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anandtech is totally on top of the performance of the CPU cooler, and judging from their test chart the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is the king of the crop, delivering temperatures 7-8° less than the Monsoon II Lite TEC across the board, from plain-Jane heatpipes.

Other choices would be the Tuniq Tower 120 and the Thermalright 120 Ultra, both delivering 2-3° reduced temps over the Monsoon.

Although the Monsoon allows the CPU to overclock to the max (though not higher than an Ultra 120 eXtreme), the addition of a power drain, heat, complexity (and frankly I think it's just damn ugly) Doesn't help at all to overall system stability.

Cool, still looking forward to the result, will be nice to see a $400+ graphics card in a $400 system :D , just for the kicks.

When will we get Pure Hardware Setup and Physics just like we got Pure Hardware Transform and Lighting? Then the CPU-limited problem will never crop up.

Nearly entirely off-topic, but why the huge hole in the nVidia line-up? Are they trying to move the rest of the 7900 series off of the shelf? I hope a product moves in to fill up the gap, even if it is the 8800GTS dropping in price by $70-100.
May 10, 2007 6:17:10 PM

Quote:
Very good article. Though like many have said i wish AMD was included in this although AMD is behind intel currently. My next system build is at the end of 07 and i hope i can stick it out with AMD but intel seems to be the choice these days.. But before i do my new system i wanted to just upgrade my Geforce 6600GT to a Geforce 8800GTX. My CPU is a AMD 3500+ Venice core.. I was wondering if i bought the 8800 would the GFX card bottleneck the CPU? I'm also running 2GB's of Corsair XMS-Pro series RAM. Anyone?
See the day 2 line-up for some upgrades to your system that I mention in the forum (links too).

If for gaming you can extend the life of your system with a 4000+ San Diego ($62 assuming 939) or a 4200+/4600+ ($100/$120 AM2).

For video, look for a 7900 series card with some good clocks, my GS is so stable at 650mhz that I flashed that into the bios on the card, depending on the resolution and the games you run you may want an 8800, but judging from your system a $270 8800GTS 320MB will suit you fine as well. The 7900 should handily beat your 6600GT if it was in SLI (I am going to be trying 6600GT SLI as a byproduct of my 6 monitors on PCI-E on a budget project, with a combination of 6600GT's 6200TC and a 7900GS KO OC with the DFI INfinity board, in case you didn't know, all video cards are capable of running at x1 PCI-E, I am considering using a dremel on the $25 6200TC to make a x1 nvidia card :twisted:, I also have a mx4000 card to chuck in the PCI slot and have 8 outputs?!?! )

Waiting on the results of the last article though, I would love to see GTS 320MB vs GTX in the budget build. (please please say you will guys, it is much more likely that a $270 card will go in a ~$500 system as an upgrade).

As you may already know, you don't have to run Oblivion at max settings, usually a couple notches down on something such as tree distance/complexity or grass will have a huge impact on the playable framerates at slim-to-nil difference in quality. The GTS 320MB is probably going to be fine for 90% of the gamers out there, the 640MB could probably account for almost all of the last 10% too.
May 10, 2007 6:42:01 PM

Well, again this a good build (although like everyone says the price per performance is kinda high.) Unlike The last two, I think the price is justified for the case.
May 10, 2007 6:52:51 PM

Quote:

Like the soundcard (dubious valued memory and all), but still waiting on an explanation of one missing in the midrange.


That's something I might revisit if I could go back. I'd probably have stuck an Audigy2 in the midrange machine there if I could do it again.
May 10, 2007 6:55:24 PM

Quote:

Like the soundcard (dubious valued memory and all), but still waiting on an explanation of one missing in the midrange.


That's something I might revisit if I could go bacl. I'd probably have stuck an Audigy2 in the midrange machine there if I could do it again.

My curiosity was more on why you didn't in the first place... was it purely budget or is there something else that stopped you? Or did you guys just not think about that aspect much on it?

agreed though on the audigy2... maybe even a low-level xfi?
May 10, 2007 6:56:11 PM

Quote:
Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core.


Failed? In your opinion. :roll:

Quad core is hardly worth the extra $$ unless you're ruinning a specialized machine. This is an all-purpose machine, not a dedicated workstation. Many of the tasks we had it perform would show no advantage with a quad-core.
May 10, 2007 7:01:48 PM

Quote:
ho hum article on a mid range sytem they consider high end enthusiast.....
Riight, and you would have them do what? You don't say below.

Quote:
1. Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core. The "overall" benchies would surpass the dual core installed if averaged with the benchmarks they choosed, which are to say the least, are multi core savy.hmm, yes, but how to buy an unobtainable Quad core and it would be worse for games.

2. They left no headroom for upgrading really. Every Intel CPU architecture requires a new chipset....I was expecting an AMD killer machine with no holds barred.
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Fair, I specced a system with 6 500GB Samsung drives and 4 SATA hard drives and the top 3Ghz FX platform and the PC Power 750 yesterday and I came up with about the same price, in a Lian Li V2000 case no less (12 HDD bays in a seperate compartment, I have seen that compartment used for an in-the case compressor cooling: http://www.under-the-ice.com/index.php?cPath=41 ), I used a VIVO 7600GT and a PCI Video capture card because I was going for a video editing machine (if there were PCI-E capture cards I would have used an 8600 for the video acceleration, it is a workstation build).

Upshot is that I could have ditched half or more of the HDDs and done 8800GTS SLI for the money, the Quad-core FX platform is in the running at this price range, and TG daily just reported on the 8-core "Wahoo" FX platform for upgrade-ability. 2X FX 3.0Ghz = $800, the motherboard is certainly in the same bracket as the one they used. Obviously they didn't have this on hand, I wish that TH wasn't so big, we expect big things, it would be nice if the feel was a little more homely so when we get the title of the article it isn't inflated in our expectation of what the resources are going into it.

In fact a single compressor-cooled dual-core @ 4.5Ghz would be nice to see in that price range, you could even water-cool the SLI GPUs and then see a real system for that price.

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4. The PSU is top notch, I'll grant them that, but that also was laying around for them use in the system build I bet. Speaking of which....the monicker "Marathon" left me with the impression they had a dead line and had to do some "overnighters" to complete there article.

It IS an awesome supply, especially for the money, see its competition (6-rail [WTF?!?] Cooler Master "850" for $250), and it is the only choice, plus with the FX platform and Quad SLI you can actually use those 4 SLI connectors :) . Whoops, forgot that the GTX sucks on two per card, nuts.

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I was expecting something that would compete with Falcon-Northwest, Voodoo or BOXX. I know, I expect to much don't I !
Not as much as I do apparently, see the above compressor-cooled Vapoli v2000 case, it promises 5-15° cooler than Asetek or Prometia (and delivers, the man is skilled at his craft), while looking very very slick entirely enclosed in a Lian-Li case.

I don't believe Tom's would ever have the budget to afford $8,000 to $10,000 or so of hardware for one ultimate top of the line build for benchmarking, lol. The one exception would be perhaps some type of promotion they might be able to secure from an oem builder like falcon northwest, alienware, or some of the hardware manufacturers, etc. I know I'd have serious issues trying to justify that to the purchaser here at my work, heh.

I didn't want to have to post my current build which I purposely built for the upcoming Agena prospect. I also wanted a duallie and AMD fit that bill also. This was a fun build and I am not claiming it to be Ultra high end. With the OS included, it rivals the price of THG's 3rd day. Here is what I'm tinkering with at the moment......

Asus L1N64-SLI WS + 2 FX-70 + 4gb GEIL 800MHz + 5 WD RE 320's + PNY 8800GTX + WinTV-HVR-1600 + PC Power and Cooling 750 Silencer + CoolerMaster CM Stacker 832 + Vista 64 Ultimate

that is why I expected more I guess nubie

VQ
May 10, 2007 7:02:32 PM

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Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core.


Failed? In your opinion. :roll:

Quad core is hardly worth the extra $$ unless you're ruinning a specialized machine. This is an all-purpose machine, not a dedicated workstation. Many of the tasks we had it perform would show no advantage with a quad-core.For Intel, for AMD, or just in general?

For the Price, an AMD quad solution may even have been cheaper, yes even than your Dual core setup. Faster at gaming, probably not, faster at multi-threaded apps, possibly.

I have yet to see benefit of even dual-core in gaming, where are the E4300 Solo in the $60 price range Intel? Maybe they know that it would be a better choice, and don't want to lose the money.
May 10, 2007 7:09:21 PM

I agree with the decision to leave quad core out... for the time being. Dual core meets most people's computing needs, except for a few niches.

What I like form this rig is that you can easily upgrade from the dual to a quad core any time in the future.

I'll wait a couple of years to get mine, though. Today's high end will be tomorrows mid and the performance will still be very, very, very acceptable for most people. I mean, I wouldn't spend $2000 extra bucks (plus shipping and import taxes we get here) just to play oblivion at the highest settings with the highest resolution achievable.

I insist: mid range, drop the 500GB single drive for two 160GB in raid 0, throw in a 8800GTX, 1GB extra ram and a decent sound card.
May 10, 2007 7:17:39 PM

This is one of those things we could debate ad infinitum. A decision had to be made on the CPU to use, and we made it.

If the spec was to make the ultimate workstation, or the ultimate video editing machine, or the ultimate photoshop machine, there would be a specialized argument for using a specific CPU in each.

These articles are general purpose though, we needed a balance and did the best we could to strike one.

But this is one of those things we could debate ad infinitum. If you're putting together a system and know you can make use of the four cores, well, it's probably a good buy for you then. :) 
May 10, 2007 7:24:48 PM

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My curiosity was more on why you didn't in the first place... was it purely budget or is there something else that stopped you? Or did you guys just not think about that aspect much on it?


Okey dokey, well, here it is:

At the time I think we were thinking, OK, this isn't a specialized gaming machine. And integrated has come a long way, so 99% of people out there, will they notice the difference between Azalia High def integrated and discrete audio? Probably not.

From a realistic standpoint it's probably good enough for the great majority of people.

But personally, I always prefer discrete. Athough, integrated doesn't bother me at all, it's probably more force of habit left over from the old days when Sound Blasters really mattered that I insist on going with at least an Audigy to this day.
May 10, 2007 7:30:04 PM

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This is one of those things we could debate ad infinitum. A decision had to be made on the CPU to use, and we made it.

If the spec was to make the ultimate workstation, or the ultimate video editing machine, or the ultimate photoshop machine, there would be a specialized argument for using a specific CPU in each.

These articles are general purpose though, we needed a balance and did the best we could to strike one.

But this is one of those things we could debate ad infinitum. If you're putting together a system and know you can make use of the four cores, well, it's probably a good buy for you then. :) 


I guess the underlying thing here is the 6800 DC you used is the same price as the available 6700 QC. The quad core has a better future with the general purpose high end machine you built Cleeve.

You could ramp up the QC in that machine right....2.93 easily.

Of course we could debate this forever, but then again, it was posted for comment by THG right?
May 10, 2007 7:32:40 PM

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Of course we could debate this forever, but then again, it was posted for comment by THG right?


heheh. Too true, too true. I'm just getting a little tired of defending a position I'm not married to: like I said, a case can be made for both, I would have been happy if we chose the quad-core in the ultimate system. I'm not married to either, they both have their strengths.
May 10, 2007 7:38:32 PM

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Overclock. OVERCLOCK!!! :) 


What? You guys are aware of the limits of the Core2 Duo and AthlonX2 architecture when it comes to clockspeeds, aren't you? :p 

Seriously though, I'd just like to say, we'd have liked to overclock, but frankly we didn't have the time. Sorry guys.

And frankly... there's alot of OCing articles out there. If overclocking were part of the criteria, we would have had different CPUs chosen in the first place... probably a core2 Duo x4xx0 something in the midrange machine. So I'm not sure how applicable it'd be anyway.

But I'll keep your wishes in mind, and if we have more time in the future we'll see what we can do.
May 10, 2007 7:56:57 PM

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My curiosity was more on why you didn't in the first place... was it purely budget or is there something else that stopped you? Or did you guys just not think about that aspect much on it?


Okey dokey, well, here it is:

At the time I think we were thinking, OK, this isn't a specialized gaming machine. And integrated has come a long way, so 99% of people out there, will they notice the difference between Azalia High def integrated and discrete audio? Probably not.

From a realistic standpoint it's probably good enough for the great majority of people.

But personally, I always prefer discrete. Athough, integrated doesn't bother me at all, it's probably more force of habit left over from the old days when Sound Blasters really mattered that I insist on going with at least an Audigy to this day.

Hey, good deal man. I respect the idea there.

I am also like what you describe and always go discrete. Maybe it is out of habit more than anything true... but my last foray into integrated was my nforce2 with the soundstorm. Arguably a great chip, but I could hear all the feedback on the mobo coming from all the stuff on that. (asus a7n8x ultra-something) even a usb mouse made some faint scratches on the sound when moved. I had an audigy at the time but was experimenting with the diffs.

soundstorm sounded better IMO as long as you did NOTHING else (it was still a dsp I believe unlike realtek and others) but that interference just killed me. Some ppl never heard it, but I did. That was the last time I tried it. All builds after that have been discrete cards, always a dsp... which pretty much means creative right now. ;) 

but cool that you guys weighed it out and made a call. You are right, most would never notice. rock on.
May 10, 2007 8:17:03 PM

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ho hum article on a mid range sytem they consider high end enthusiast.....

1. Like many post above me here, they failed numero uno by not going the Quad Core. The "overall" benchies would surpass the dual core installed if averaged with the benchmarks they choosed, which are to say the least, are multi core savy.


From the benchmarks used, the only one I know of that would benefit from quad core is 3D Studio Max. I think you've just failed to make your point.

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2. They left no headroom for upgrading really. Every Intel CPU architecture requires a new chipset....I was expecting an AMD killer machine with no holds barred.


AMD has some interesting tech with more on the horizon, but that doesn't mean the Intel platform has no legs. Intel is releasing new Core 2 processors over the summer that will extend the upgrade options for this motherboard. Without the need for a new chipset.

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3. They should have used Vista U 64 and tweaked from there, the Creative Labs sound card may have issue's there, but hey, that is not the only card out there, just the most well known.


Gee, and I thought the purpose was to build a performance system...

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4. The PSU is top notch, I'll grant them that, but that also was laying around for them use in the system build I bet. Speaking of which....the monicker "Marathon" left me with the impression they had a dead line and had to do some "overnighters" to complete there article.


And your assumption that this PSU was picked by chance rather than by choice is another way of saying you don't think anyone in this project is capable of making a good choice. But perhaps its just you?
May 10, 2007 8:26:22 PM

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soundstorm sounded better IMO as long as you did NOTHING else (it was still a dsp I believe unlike realtek and others) but that interference just killed me.


Soundsstorm... so close yet so far. I went out of my way to get a soundstorm board too (expensive back in the day), but it always seemed buggy to me.

Never reached it's full potential. Great idea, though.
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