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Experiment: 2009 until the Future, searching for the best GAMER PC

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April 30, 2009 11:08:30 PM

What is the best bang-for-the-buck GAMER solution that will save you the most money in the future?

Continuing in the spirit of the comparison my previous thread that evaluated what was the best bang for the buck between 2007 and 2009, I would like to do an experiment into the future to find out what the best bang-for-the-buck system solutions are that you could by as of May 2009. Of course this will have to take into account their future performance - so it will be impossible to tell now what is the best one. This experiment will therefore continue until 2010-2011 to determine which of the system builds that seemed good now were actually the best in terms of dollars spent and playability. The systems may be completely upgraded in the future - the only winning factor here is the lowest total cost overall throughout the next 2-3 years.

These system builds will only consider CPU, GPU, MOBO and RAM - for the sake of simplicity as these are the components that change the most in terms of gaming performance.

Requirement for these systems (in May 2009) is that they play all games at 30 fps or above on high setting at 1920 x 1200 res. The requirements may change in time (meaning that some systems might have to be upgraded when this happens)

Prices will be taken from Newegg, mail-in-rebates included

Keep in mind that all of these systems will theoretically be OC'ed to max on air



May 2009 systems (All games at high settings on 1920 x 1200 resolution) Prices:


Value system(DDR2):

CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 Deneb 2.8GHz $140
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] k=720%20X3

GPU: MSI R4830-T2D512 Radeon HD 4830 512MB $77
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127420
HIS Hightech H483FN512P Radeon HD 4830 512MB $77
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814161260

MOBO:BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813138130

RAMCZ Blade Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) $30
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820227420

Total System Cost = $420


Value System Core i7 (DDR3 - future upgradable?)

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz $280
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6819115202

GPU: HIS Hightech H487FN1GP Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814161269

MOBO: Foxconn Renaissance LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX - $190
RAM: OCZ 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $69

Total System Cost = $709


Mid-Range system (DDR2):

CPU:AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz
MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X
CPU and MOBO combo: $294
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] mbo.182237

GPU: 2 x SAPPHIRE 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 100 + 120 = $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814102824

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1000 (PC2 8000) $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231145

Total System Cost: $564

Mid-Range system (DDR3 - future upgradable?):

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz
MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790FXT-UD5P AM3 DDR3 AMD 790FX ATX
CPU and MOBO combo: 245 + 180 - 30 = $394
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813128377

GPU: XFX HD-489A-ZDEC Radeon HD 4890 Xtreme 1GB 256-bit GDDR $230
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814150360

RAM: Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820220331

Total System Cost: $714


Enthusiast System (DRR3 - future upgradable?):

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz
GPU: EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3
CPU and GPU combo: 280 + 250 -20 = $510
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] mbo.187411

2nd GPU: EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3 $250
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814130475

MOBO: EVGA 132-BL-E758-A1 LGA 1366 Intel X58 $290
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813188039

RAM:CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 $250
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820145232

Total System Cost: $1300

How do these systems perform as of 2009

Value systems:
Of these builds the two value systems just fill the requirements, with the Core i7 being the weakest and failing to meet them completely in Crysis.
Results for Core i7 system can be found here: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3517&p=8
Results relative for the 2 x 4830 in CF can be found here: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/radeon-h...

The mid-range range:
Both systems exceed the requirements, although for the moment the 4850s in CF massacre the single 4890, however we can upgrade to a 4890 CF later if we need to, so maybe the 955 has a better future?
Results relative to the 4850 CF can be found here: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3517&p=8
Results for the 4890 system will be relative to this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-4890,2262...

Enthusiast system:
This is really overkill for everything at 1920 x 1200 except crysis, but it should do quite well there also - actually read the article - it handles crysis pretty well too. :sol: 
Results that are relative: http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=1554&pageID=6784

Ok so now we play the waiting game - "Shape of Janie's Tampon!"

Suggestions and comments are very welcome
May 1, 2009 2:54:04 AM

The one flaw that I see is that the value system is NOT using a Tri-Channel memory set up. Other than that, this should be fun to watch.
May 11, 2009 9:08:03 PM

Budget i7 RAM fixed
March 21, 2013 11:07:02 AM

Wow, hardly anything has happened in almost 4 years on the desktop!

So, I just stumbled across this old post as I am now big time procrastinating with my PhD Thesis write up and its crazy to look back.

Observations:

All of the CPUs are still fine

None of the GPUs are good enough

Conclusions:

"Sweet Spot" theory partially confirmed

Budget systems and Mid range were great choices, Enthusiast was a waste of money as GPUs were rapidly outclassed by much cheaper solutions and it would still require a new set of GPUs to play the best games

But the really Crazy Part is:

GPU upgrade is all that is needed 2009-2013!

Technically you could have bought the cheapest system and just upgraded the GPU somewhere down the line and you can still play every game out there on 1920 x 1080 (maybe add a bit more ram as well). None of these systems are worthwhile upgrading in terms of a new CPU for their MOBOs, so next upgrade is really an entire swap out of MOBO, RAM and CPU.

But the crazy thing is that none of them need it! You can still play all the new games simply with a new CPU. Man, the desktop market has really slowed down, at least in terms of (gaming) software taking advantage of the hardware on offer - or stretching it at all for that matter. (Thank you consoles, NOT!)

If we look back at the comparisons in my earlier articles; 2005-2007 and 2007-2009, upgrading CPU power and RAM was a must to stay in the game, but since 2009 it really hasn't gone anywhere, an OC'ed phenom II 720 will still do just fine and the Intel i7 920 is still pretty darn good if OC'ed. GPUs have gotten better, but we need the new games to take advantage of this.

Taken Together: Bang for Your Buck

Buy your system based on the "Sweet Spot"

Don't buy the Fastest Tech

Only upgrade when you have to or there is a really good sale on a substantial upgrade


What is the "Sweet Spot"

The "sweet spot" is circumstantial, but by using TOMs Hardware guides to GPUs and CPUs you can get a good idea of what is the sweet spot. Its where you are getting the most performance for your dollar and it usually means paying a bit more than the cheapest stuff, but not forking out for the most expensive stuff that only gives marginal performance gains for large increases in price.

So, again it looks like "future proofing" by buying the most expensive equipment is not a good idea if you want bang for buck. A good budget or mid range system is cheaper in the long run, its cheaper just to upgrade part or the whole system whenever the technology makes a substantial jump (and when is that going to happen next!?).

Side Note
What's next for the desktop?
Is it a dying platform?
What is going to drive the future developments of gaming, what's go to push the envelope of performance?
Mobile devices?
Consoles?
Integrated interface systems using things like IR detection (MS kinect), VR headsets or other equipment, or something entirely new?

What do you think?
March 21, 2013 11:46:11 AM

The problem is that games stopped being CPU dependent in 2010. New GPU's Will kick the ship out of those old ones, due to the higher dependence on GPU's then CPU's.

"Is desktop development dying?"
Hell no. There will always be something new to tax the system, and systems can only be shrunk so far. There will always be large form factor PC's.
March 22, 2013 7:25:48 AM

YINGTIAN said:
Look good? I plan on overclocking he 3570k as high as I can, around 4.8 ghz, (5 ghz for the lolz), and I heard IB's run hot


Have fun with you 15% reduced lifespan and 2% better frames. :lol: 
The overclock will not affect games very much. its already a great CPU, so unless your doing rendering...
March 22, 2013 10:15:39 AM

masterman467 said:
The problem is that games stopped being CPU dependent in 2010. New GPU's Will kick the ship out of those old ones, due to the higher dependence on GPU's then CPU's.

"Is desktop development dying?"
Hell no. There will always be something new to tax the system, and systems can only be shrunk so far. There will always be large form factor PC's.


Yeah I just wish there was more new software out there ready to tax the hardware. I think that a lot of the games in particular are far from properly taking advantage of the latest software. I know its a bit of cliche by now, but I really think this is due to the competition from consoles and the mobile market. There are of course still plenty of us "enthusiasts" out there who play on PCs, but I wish we could see a resurgence to the PC platform for gaming. I think the big selling factors that could bring people back are the not just the increased performance (graphics) but the flexibility of the PC.
Game modding for example completely changes the experience of games on the PC and distinguishes it as a much more personal and immersible experience than anything available on the console or mobile devices atm. If developers had the financial incentives (or decided to create them by pro-active marketing) they could do some awesome stuff on the PC, not just with graphics, but more importantly by inventing better interfaces. For example, expansion of the MS Kinect-like interfaces could really change gaming experiences, but this has not really been exploited commercially yet.

My experiences from showing friends how different games like Fallout, Half-life and GTA can be when modded on PC have convinced me that people are really attracted to gaming on the PC once the know the potential. The problem is that most are completely unaware about what is actually out there.

I am also disappointed with how little most productivity software is optimized for taking advantage of the new hardware that is out there, but I guess this also probably has to do with lacking financial incentives.

!