Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: System Value Compared

Last response: in Reviews comments
Share
a b K Overclocking
June 25, 2013 9:00:04 PM

Our top three builders struggled to fit big performance into three tiny ITX-based platforms at three budget levels. Will the more expensive machines once again justify their higher prices through dramatically-improved performance? Read on for more.

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: System Value Compared : Read more
June 25, 2013 9:07:49 PM

Finally some builds that cost nearly the same in my country India. Thanks..
June 25, 2013 10:48:29 PM

Great to see M-ITX in a SBM. The days of needing a full sized ATX are mostly over for 90% of people. M-ATO or M-ITX is the way forward.
Related resources
a b K Overclocking
June 25, 2013 10:58:34 PM

The extra $1200 from the $1300 doesn't add much value in this form factor.
a b K Overclocking
a b Ĉ ASUS
June 25, 2013 11:39:10 PM

Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.
a b K Overclocking
June 25, 2013 11:46:39 PM

DarkSable said:
Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.


They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.
a b K Overclocking
a b Ĉ ASUS
June 25, 2013 11:52:40 PM

slomo4sho said:
They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


For the parts, or for the computers themselves? Either would be nice, actually.

One thing that would go a long way is stressing how wonky their testing is - most people reading this as advice for building a computer are going to be building a gaming computer purely, rendering 70% of the test bench pointless.
June 26, 2013 12:59:41 AM

I still don't like the bf3 benchmarks. They in no way represent the online experience and really, people that play bf3 spend at least 95% of their time on mp. I realize it's nearly impossible to generate a fair benchmark for online play but the current benchmarks are very misleading.

And I'm not griping at tom's, all review sites seem to do this. There should be some way to create a better benchmark. Maybe host a custom server and load it up with scripted "players" or something.
June 26, 2013 1:00:48 AM

Cheaper is better basically :)  Where's that $400 rig?
June 26, 2013 1:04:35 AM

DarkSable said:
most people reading this as advice for building a computer are going to be building a gaming computer purely, rendering 70% of the test bench pointless.


I feel like they've modified the benchmarking suite to favor AMD as much as possible.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 2:29:32 AM

Achoo22 said:
I feel like they've modified the benchmarking suite to favor AMD as much as possible.


And when was the last time an AMD CPU made it into a SBM? Modifying benchmarks to favor a product that is never showcased is a moot point.
June 26, 2013 5:41:33 AM

I got in mine micro atx 3 intel cpu... i7 3770k i3 3225 and now i have here the i5 3470 and what i can say. 3770k IS fast but hot... i3 3225, its ok can run everthing on max. when u pull 107 mhz on fsb he wake up and get better fps even on gta 4, u don't need a cooler to run the i3. and for now i got here the i5 3470 this have the best valuei can run this at 4.0ghz and i don't get my case hot. good speed barely touch the 3770k on applications. the mostly demanding i miss its about zip and rar files... 3470 epic win. 180usd
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 5:52:44 AM

slomo4sho said:
DarkSable said:
Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.


They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.

were you looking for something other than the performance per dollar charts present in the last page?
if you're looking for perf/$$ for individual componentes, look into the component reviews. sbm has figures for the whole pc only, because the whole pc is being tested.
June 26, 2013 5:53:15 AM

slomo4sho said:

They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


Isn't that exactly what the last two graphs are all about?
June 26, 2013 5:58:12 AM

@DarkSable

Did you even read the article? At all - or did you just flip through charts? And then not all of the charts, just some of them. In every SMB they always talk about diminishing returns and sweet spots - ALWAYS. And nearly every time the lowest end wins the price/performance category. I've seen the mid rig win a few times, but that was only when they were doing off-the-wall rigs.
June 26, 2013 7:29:01 AM

You know what, @DarkSable read the last 2 pages.

Anyway, that's not what i had to say.

What i had to say was, always looking at perf/$ is sort of narrow minded too.

If someone wanted a minimum of 50 fps maxed out at 1600x900 and above, they'd be looking at the $1300 build.

If someone wanted the best of everything, they'd look at the $2500 build.

I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).
a b K Overclocking
a b Ĉ ASUS
June 26, 2013 7:57:28 AM

ojas said:
...
.
.
.
I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).

This. You don't build a PC without specific purpose(s), and without performance targets. And, you cannot judge a build without considering the purpose(s) for which it was built. The SBM PCs are built to compete in certain benchmarks (and to encourage lots of discussion, hopefully intelligent). Most people don't build that way (which is no slight at the SBMs; they are consistently one of my favorite features on this site). My primary PC has a card reader, and one of those 5-1/4" drawers, and a pair of drives for storage in RAID1; you'll never find those in a SBM, nor would I ever call for them. The SBM provides interesting performance and general build data points, and does not claim to be a "build this" instructional article. I do remember a "Build a $500 Gaming PC" article some years ago (featuring a Pentium 805D) which very likely influenced the SBMs, but was written very differently. "Build a ________ PC" would indeed make another interesting and useful instructional series, perhaps one every 2-3 months, NOT always focused on gaming. I'd suggest every other one be devoted [primarily] to something other than gaming, such as HTPC, Home Office, "typical" office, CAD, database, etc. These need not be given away, but could be used as instructional articles for people looking to build. Flesh them out by publishing videos of each actual build, such as on YouTube.
June 26, 2013 8:47:39 AM

Are the CPU temps on page 13 accurate? Don's build stays essentially room temp while idling? Paul's only goes up 2 ºC at load? Impressive.
June 26, 2013 10:24:05 AM

Any chance you could benchmark the Tiki for comparison?
June 26, 2013 10:50:37 AM

Onus said:
ojas said:
...
.
.
.
I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).


This. You don't build a PC without specific purpose(s), and without performance targets. And, you cannot judge a build without considering the purpose(s) for which it was built. The SBM PCs are built to compete in certain benchmarks (and to encourage lots of discussion, hopefully intelligent). Most people don't build that way (which is no slight at the SBMs; they are consistently one of my favorite features on this site).
...
I do remember a "Build a $500 Gaming PC" article some years ago (featuring a Pentium 805D) which very likely influenced the SBMs, but was written very differently. "Build a ________ PC" would indeed make another interesting and useful instructional series, perhaps one every 2-3 months, NOT always focused on gaming. I'd suggest every other one be devoted [primarily] to something other than gaming, such as HTPC, Home Office, "typical" office, CAD, database, etc. These need not be given away, but could be used as instructional articles for people looking to build. Flesh them out by publishing videos of each actual build, such as on YouTube.

This hearkens to Paul's comment a few days ago how so many people think a certain budget range automatically denotes certain components, or how you can't claim a certain computer category name if you don't have certain components. I feel like Barbosa in that the code is more about guidelines than actual rules. Everyone can and should put their own spin on a build for their own purposes.

I like the idea of an instructional series of how to build machines specialized to a certain task. I remember Tom's used to have a standard configuration area where people could submit build lists for a lot of computer types like Sub $500 Intel, Sub $500 AMD, HTPC, Home & Office, Professional Design, Mid-range Gaming, All-Out Gaming, etc. Do those still happen? Have I just lost track of them due to the site changes?
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 11:34:05 AM

de5_Roy said:

were you looking for something other than the performance per dollar charts present in the last page?
if you're looking for perf/$$ for individual componentes, look into the component reviews. sbm has figures for the whole pc only, because the whole pc is being tested.


jee_are said:
Isn't that exactly what the last two graphs are all about?


Those graphs use the $650 build as the baseline for comparison. This isn't a true performance per dollar representation.


a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 11:46:05 AM

slomo4sho said:

Those graphs use the $650 build as the baseline for comparison. This isn't a true performance per dollar representation.

then what is the true perf/dollar representation?
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 11:56:35 AM

de5_Roy said:

then what is the true perf/dollar representation?


Performance/cost

Tom's uses the arbitrary formula (performance/performance of $650 build)/(cost/$650). These figures are useless outside of this current article whereas the performance/cost calculations can be used universally.
June 26, 2013 12:01:37 PM

slomo4sho said:
Those graphs use the $650 build as the baseline for comparison. This isn't a true performance per dollar representation.


Maybe so, but considering the number of variables ( CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, and the overclock amount for each, ) performance per dollar becomes a very difficult thing to lock down and present. At least at the whole system level. To get full representation, you'd need to test every GPU with every combo of CPU, RAM, and possibly mboard ( mboards themselves don't directly affect game perf, but their varying OC abilities do. ) Each of those combos would also need to be checked at stock clocks and OC.

In the interest of time, you could cut down the number of combos to only use some of the most common tiers of components. Find the top OC mboard and RAM for each CPU, and use those for all the tests. Then just use just the top model FX4000, FX6000, FX8000, i3, i5, and i7 and a reference model of each main GPU model. Even cutting it down to that would still be very time consuming.

It'd actually be a pretty interesting research article, investigating how each GPU is boosted or limited by a given CPU, much RAM overclocking affects game performance depending on platform and graphics, etc. We can already extrapolate some of this info from the current GPU and CPU reviews. The numbers are given for the reviewed model in comparison to others in the similar range, so applying those to the MSRP could give a somewhat usable baseline.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 12:18:55 PM

slomo4sho said:

Performance/cost
Tom's uses the arbitrary formula (performance/performance of $650 build)/(cost/$650). These figures are useless outside of this current article whereas the performance/cost calculations can be used universally.

i think directly dividing performance by cost makes it easy to misrepresent if a baseline isn't present. sbm uses cheapest machine as a baseline. kinda like measuring without a scale... i think. even a universal measure will need a baseline and even that measurement will be useless outside the scope of the measurement. i hope that made some sense.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 12:32:46 PM

de5_Roy said:
i think directly dividing performance by cost makes it easy to misrepresent if a baseline isn't present. sbm uses cheapest machine as a baseline. kinda like measuring without a scale... i think. even a universal measure will need a baseline and even that measurement will be useless outside the scope of the measurement. i hope that made some sense.


Is Zero not an acceptable baseline?
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 12:44:13 PM

slomo4sho said:

Is Zero not an acceptable baseline?

from what i've seen, perf/dollar comparisons are always relative (to something), not absolute. the moment you factor conditions, preferences, etc. the baseline forms. so, zero might not be a baseline.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 12:55:26 PM

de5_Roy said:
from what i've seen, perf/dollar comparisons are always relative (to something), not absolute. the moment you factor conditions, preferences, etc. the baseline forms. so, zero might not be a baseline.


Not always.


http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Processors/Intel-Core-i7-3...
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 1:06:24 PM

slomo4sho said:

Not always.

in this case,
only the gfx card perf/price is being measured.
the baseline is the rest of the pc.

if you take the gfx card price and performance/price, e.g. the gtx680 perf/price figure, by itself, doesn't mean much. the reason gtx670, 7950, 7870 and 7850 perf/price are highlighted because they are being compared to the others, even thought they've been calculated individually. otherwise, the radeon 6870 looks like the best perf/price card (compared to others i.e. relative).
there's always a baseline.
a b K Overclocking
a b Ĉ ASUS
June 26, 2013 1:10:33 PM

^I'm thinking there was a minimum performance requirement, which the HD6870 didn't meet. A high bang/buck ratio is only meaningful if you're getting enough bang.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 1:55:42 PM

de5_Roy said:

in this case,
only the gfx card perf/price is being measured.
the baseline is the rest of the pc.

if you take the gfx card price and performance/price, e.g. the gtx680 perf/price figure, by itself, doesn't mean much. the reason gtx670, 7950, 7870 and 7850 perf/price are highlighted because they are being compared to the others, even thought they've been calculated individually. otherwise, the radeon 6870 looks like the best perf/price card (compared to others i.e. relative).
there's always a baseline.


I am aware that only one variable is compared in this chart. There are no existing performance/price charts for complete systems currently. Also, the article from which this chart is linked actually examines current high end cards and favors the GTX 670.

Onus said:
^I'm thinking there was a minimum performance requirement, which the HD6870 didn't meet. A high bang/buck ratio is only meaningful if you're getting enough bang.

The author had a clear bias towards the GTX 670 and highlighted criteria to favor the 670.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 3:10:27 PM

slomo4sho said:
DarkSable said:
Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.


They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


DarkSable said:
slomo4sho said:
They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


For the parts, or for the computers themselves? Either would be nice, actually.

One thing that would go a long way is stressing how wonky their testing is - most people reading this as advice for building a computer are going to be building a gaming computer purely, rendering 70% of the test bench pointless.


slomo4sho said:
de5_Roy said:
i think directly dividing performance by cost makes it easy to misrepresent if a baseline isn't present. sbm uses cheapest machine as a baseline. kinda like measuring without a scale... i think. even a universal measure will need a baseline and even that measurement will be useless outside the scope of the measurement. i hope that made some sense.


Is Zero not an acceptable baseline?
One can't divide by zero. $ Per Frame might work but then what would you do with the other benchmarks? $ Per Second Saved? But then you need a baseline. Most of these benchmarks don't break down into units per second so easily.

June 26, 2013 4:39:12 PM

First off, I thought this was about trying to build the best valued system in the price range, which they didn't do.
Second, I don't know why they put a 680 in this build. I would have gone for a vapor-x 7970, which you can currently get for $370. Even if you have a vendetta against AMD for some reason, a 770 is a better choice. It's stronger and cheaper. You could argue no free games with the 770, but then the opposite argument needs to be made for the 7970 which comes with 4 free games.
Third, and this has always been a pet peeve of mine about the System builder, the prices for the builds need to be consistent between every quarter. You can't say an enthusiast PC is $1000 one quarter and then say it's $2500 the next. It makes the two build almost impossible to compare. I would say $600, $1000, and $1500 would be a good price point for them.
I use these build as templates when putting together parts lists sometimes because they usually deliver such great value, but definitely not this quarter.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 5:37:14 PM

lt_dan_zsu said:
First off, I thought this was about trying to build the best valued system in the price range, which they didn't do.
Second, I don't know why they put a 680 in this build. I would have gone for a vapor-x 7970, which you can currently get for $370. Even if you have a vendetta against AMD for some reason, a 770 is a better choice. It's stronger and cheaper. You could argue no free games with the 770, but then the opposite argument needs to be made for the 7970 which comes with 4 free games.
First, the builder was afraid that the internally-vented 7970 would put too much heat in his little tiny case. Second, the 770 wasn't even on the market when these systems were ordered nearly THREE MONTHS ago. Third, if you'd read the $1300 PC article, you would have known these things. Thanks for reading the roundup though!

a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 5:47:39 PM

Crashman said:
One can't divide by zero. $ Per Frame might work but then what would you do with the other benchmarks? $ Per Second Saved? But then you need a baseline. Most of these benchmarks don't break down into units per second so easily.


Do you need to divide by zero to understand the value of any real number in respect to Zero(yes, I know you can't divide by zero).

Also consider the inverse of the $/Frames: Frames/$. Can the frames/$ formula not be carried over to every other benchmark? When a lower quantity is preferred in a benchmark, you can inverse the results.
a b K Overclocking
June 26, 2013 6:38:09 PM

slomo4sho said:
Crashman said:
One can't divide by zero. $ Per Frame might work but then what would you do with the other benchmarks? $ Per Second Saved? But then you need a baseline. Most of these benchmarks don't break down into units per second so easily.


Do you need to divide by zero to understand the value of any real number in respect to Zero(yes, I know you can't divide by zero).

Also consider the inverse of the $/Frames: Frames/$. Can the frames/$ formula not be carried over to every other benchmark? When a lower quantity is preferred in a benchmark, you can inverse the results.
Right, the problem is that in dollars per second, more seconds is a good thing. To invert it, one must have a "worst" value that's higher than the expected value (ie, greater than zero). Unless you can think of something else...

June 27, 2013 12:39:24 PM

I keep arguing the case of the Optical drives.

Today you can get pretty much any ISO you want for almost anything, included Windows. If you really need one, you can get portable ones which are close in price, but a thousand times more convenient.

Cheers!
July 3, 2013 2:10:05 PM

This will be nice to see in future builder marathons results for minimum FPS - not just for average FPS.
July 15, 2013 10:36:54 PM

My only comment on this article is that I recently built an HTPC using the Lian Li case with a similar build as shown. Just want to give people a heads up that the case was pretty awkward and very difficult to work in. For instance, you have to take the panels off every single side to get into it to install the components for even a basic build. Its a lot of very tiny black screws. Go for the CM case if you can make it work.
!