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System Builder Marathon Q4 2013: System Value Compared

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a b K Overclocking
December 31, 2013 12:00:04 AM

This quarter's System Builder Marathon was downright chaotic. We reallocated our budgets to boost gaming performance, and watched as the prices on AMD's highest-end cards shot through the roof. When the dust settles, whose system offers the most value?

System Builder Marathon Q4 2013: System Value Compared : Read more
December 31, 2013 1:29:23 AM

Since it appears that the 4930k is such a great "value", if one can put it into proper use, that 2400 pc with a single gpu seems to be a good idea. That way, one can upgrade the gpu after 2 or 1.5 years or get a second one after 6 months or so if he feels the need, while the cpu will still be going really strong. Comparing the pace of cpu vs gpu progress, I would always second the idea of getting a really good cpu and 2nd or 3rd fastest gpu. Also the 40 pcie lanes make it even more future proof. But of course for tripple monitor setups or 4k dual is the way to go, at least for now.
a b K Overclocking
December 31, 2013 1:43:41 AM

swordrage said:
Since it appears that the 4930k is such a great "value", if one can put it into proper use, that 2400 pc with a single gpu seems to be a good idea. That way, one can upgrade the gpu after 2 or 1.5 years or get a second one after 6 months or so if he feels the need, while the cpu will still be going really strong. Comparing the pace of cpu vs gpu progress, I would always second the idea of getting a really good cpu and 2nd or 3rd fastest gpu. Also the 40 pcie lanes make it even more future proof. But of course for tripple monitor setups or 4k dual is the way to go, at least for now.
I would have no problem recommending the system with a different graphics configuration, even a single GTX 780 Ti with room for later SLI upgrades.

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December 31, 2013 4:15:49 AM

put the same graphic card on these 3 system and show to us the results
December 31, 2013 6:49:32 AM

Thanks for another great SBM, but I want to ask if there's a way to include some metrics in a gaming context for SSDs or RAID configs so they weight more for the overall system value.

The first one I can think of, being kind of boring as it might be, its the most obvious one to have: loading times. There are games that load a bazillion things on the fly and are some-what storage sensitive (MMOs basically) and we all hate waiting for everything to load, right? It can be clocked with a 10% error margin (thinking it usually takes around 200ms for human response).

I'm asking this, because RAID0 could become important if we see the value it adds to our builds. I know they're nowhere near SSDs, but Steam + other games take a LOT of space. My own Games folder racks up 410GB, where Steam is 300GB alone. You could slap 2x500GB HDDs in RAID 0 for half the value of a 240GB SSD if memory serves right and 2x1TB HDDs are just a tad more expensive. You can even use notebook HDDs if you want, haha.

Cheers!
December 31, 2013 8:00:36 AM

The problem with these Marathon is that they rely too much on the budget and refuse to show us what we really want. In this case, two R290X with non-reference cooler. The overclocking is not what we know this card can accomplish.

Also, I would have cut the memory by half and remove the SSD for getting these 2 cards. Also... you really needs to change your SBM... it is ridiculous at this point.
December 31, 2013 8:04:58 AM

Yuka, If you have simple games, putting on your HDD instead of your SSD will make barely any difference. If you are like me and have some indie games, then save your space on your SSD for the big titles. I don't know many people can claim not having enough space with 256GB of SSD due to the amount of games they have.
December 31, 2013 8:34:19 AM

All benchmark results below 1080p should be excluded and discontinued. What gamer is going to buy or build one of these monsters and play on a 19" 1600x900
December 31, 2013 8:52:55 AM

@redgarl: There are exactly two non-reference 290X cards listed on Newegg right now, one of which is out of stock. The one that's available wasn't there when we ordered parts for the SBM, but even if it was, it sells for $650. Two of them at $1300 aren't even an option for two of these three builds.
December 31, 2013 9:02:30 AM

Problem with SSD's is that the big titles are getting massive. BF3 took up nearly 65g of my HDD, and BF4 is already at 58gb. I have a 240gb SSD coming and with Windows 8 and BF4 I'm not going to ahve much alternative room left!
a b K Overclocking
December 31, 2013 9:11:28 AM

redgarl said:
The problem with these Marathon is that they rely too much on the budget and refuse to show us what we really want. In this case, two R290X with non-reference cooler.
They weren't available when the cards were ordered.
redgarl said:
The overclocking is not what we know this card can accomplish.
Au contraire, this is EXACTLY what THESE cards could accomplish with good cooling. I know that by the temperatures, but I understand that the temperature charts are easily overlooked.

December 31, 2013 12:48:59 PM

If you have an SSD and are not using compression you're losing/wasting a lot of space.
December 31, 2013 2:09:51 PM

I strongly disagree with the choices made for the 2400 one.
a b K Overclocking
December 31, 2013 2:30:45 PM

coolitic said:
I strongly disagree with the choices made for the 2400 one.
I'm actually very happy you didn't just throw out a bunch of gaming machine specs with that statement. So, keeping in mind that:
1.) The $2400 PC was built with the entire benchmark set in mind, not just games
2.) The graphics cards were $400 at the time and nobody knew that they'd be capped in Far Cry 3
3.) Top-mounting the radiator would have further boxed-in the voltage regulator sink
4.) The NH-D14 had been found slightly-insufficient in the previous high-end build

What would you have liked to see changed?

December 31, 2013 3:15:50 PM

I enjoy these articles, but since am not into gaming as much as others I personally would like to see one along the lines of a workstation build off. Not really sure what the budget ranges would be, etc. But I feel it could be a nice change up from the norm on the site.
a b K Overclocking
January 1, 2014 7:06:26 AM

Interestingly, 800 dollars will get you ultra settings @ 1080P 60 fps for 90% of games.
a c 138 K Overclocking
January 1, 2014 7:13:28 AM

My favorite series on here and really there is a build for everyone though I believe we should still have an Entry level build in the $500-650 range included!
January 1, 2014 7:14:40 AM

Just curious. Why don't we test at 2560X1600 any more? I'm sure a lot of us doing a $2400 build have a big monitor to go along with it.
a b K Overclocking
January 1, 2014 7:22:55 AM

I must agree with Rolli 500-600 is a popular build price. certainly more so than mid priced build.
January 1, 2014 2:14:06 PM

jlanger said:
Problem with SSD's is that the big titles are getting massive. BF3 took up nearly 65g of my HDD, and BF4 is already at 58gb. I have a 240gb SSD coming and with Windows 8 and BF4 I'm not going to ahve much alternative room left!


Compression, dude! It's your best friend in digital gaming. And if all else fails, get an external drive. They're still pretty useful and cheap...

And I think the only thing I can disagree with the $1600 build is the case. OMG!! My eyes! Ughhhhh!
January 1, 2014 3:56:11 PM

Compression is not your friend, it adds overhead to the CPU and SSD. Honestly if these guys would have bought ASUS boards on these systems, RAM DISK is a solution to look at.

Whatever popular game your playing at the time, load it into the ram disk, when you grown tired of the game, unload it from RAM disk and back onto the HDD. Speed when you need it, storage when you dont.
January 1, 2014 4:03:14 PM

If his games are on HDD as storage, and he loads to SSD, why not compress the files on storage?
January 2, 2014 9:20:45 AM

I'd still like the $2400 PC.. so I entered.
January 3, 2014 9:20:08 AM

Can you link to the gaming compression you're referring to, so I don't make the wrong assumptions?
January 3, 2014 5:31:14 PM

For the top end build, have you ever thought about going into the Xeon (dual proc) setups? It seems to me that at this price, chances are that system is more of a workstation with good gaming capabilities, rather than just a true game system...

grab a decent supermicro dual proc mobo, a couple of Xeon E5-2360, 8-16 gigs of memory, small SSD boot, chassis, PSU, and then the rest to your graphics. I wish I had more time to actually throw full build specs down...

While you would need to tone down the Graphics to give cash for the Mobo and CPUs, I think in productivity tests (especially threaded ones), this thing would SMOKE the others.
a b K Overclocking
January 3, 2014 8:35:12 PM

egowhip69 said:
For the top end build, have you ever thought about going into the Xeon (dual proc) setups? It seems to me that at this price, chances are that system is more of a workstation with good gaming capabilities, rather than just a true game system...

grab a decent supermicro dual proc mobo, a couple of Xeon E5-2360, 8-16 gigs of memory, small SSD boot, chassis, PSU, and then the rest to your graphics. I wish I had more time to actually throw full build specs down...

While you would need to tone down the Graphics to give cash for the Mobo and CPUs, I think in productivity tests (especially threaded ones), this thing would SMOKE the others.
But given the test suite, it's usually easier to boost overall scores by putting the money into graphics than it is by putting the money into a doubly-expensive motherboard and quadruply-expensive CPU set. It would really be cool to have both in an ultra-expensive PC though!

January 4, 2014 1:57:06 PM

For the Visual Studio test, an SSD plays an important role for the $2400 lead as well. The reason is all those intermediate object files that have to be written to the disk during compilation, as well as the huge debug symbols files at the end.
January 4, 2014 10:13:15 PM

Are these three systems really being given away!? That is awesome - I've been looking around for affordable parts for months and still haven't settled on anything. Maybe I will win!
January 4, 2014 11:44:37 PM

This what I don't understand here. All of these builds are going to be given away to somebody lucky, and yet, we have people here complaining about the builds, as if the parts will be permanently on that board, once they're put into their cases.

If you don't like the build as it were, if you manage to win one of these, why not change it to what you want and forget about arguing what you would have done differently?

Right now, I'm sitting here with a Corsair 800D I just won on Ebay for a mere $35 bucks. Brand freaking new, still in it's retail box, undamaged. There's not a single one of these systems that wouldn't find itself with a happy home inside that case (This $2400 build, I'd do back flips to get a water cooling set up for it, and that "old" 800D simply begs for one!). And consider what went into these builds, you have the chance to win it free of charge.

Don't sweat the details!
a b K Overclocking
January 7, 2014 9:38:49 AM

Ok, I've entered. So, what would I do with them?$800 Gaming PC: Although I might be tempted to part it out, more likely I would give it, pretty much as-is, to a family member long in need of an upgrade.$1600 Enthusiast PC: Tough call. I'd probably sell one of the GTX770s because I only play on one 1920x1080 display. I'd probably move the drives and Seasonic PSU from Phoenix into this build, but I'd want to get a different case.$2400 Performance PC: Similar. I'd remove one graphics card, add the RAID1 from Phoenix, and turn this into my primary machine.
January 10, 2014 6:27:17 AM

Where will the results of the sweepstakes be posted?
February 26, 2014 10:10:45 AM

Were the results of this giveaway ever posted anywhere?
!