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System Builder Marathon Q1 2014: System Value Compared

This quarter's Marathon included a GeForce GTX 780 Ti-enhanced enthusiast PC, a budget gaming machine at a lower price, and a high-end build altered to reader specifications. What effects will all of those changes have on overall performance—and value?

System Builder Marathon Q1 2014: System Value Compared : Read more
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  1. Paul always wins. Why not switch it up sometime?
  2. You really should add noise measurements on those builds. I'd much rather have a low noise system with mediocre performance than a fast but loud system. For that reason I returned my 7990 card in december and decided to stick with my trusty old 6950 that wasn't causing tinitus
  3. Value is such a contradicting analysis. If your goal is to be 4k ready, the the two cheapest build are not going to make the cut. It's all depending on your needs.Also, for any single graphic card, I would cut on the CPU. There is no need to link a 4770k with a single 780 GTX.
  4. Nice work with the targeted High End Gaming value analysis! I'd 2nd switching it up so that Paul doesn't always win....

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. Is it true that gaming only gets 20-30% of the overall performance weighting? If so, I'd suggest moving that up to at least 50%. Even though I'm one for a balanced system, I still think the amount of $$ you're spending on the graphics capability should be reflected more in the overall performance rating.

    2. There is quite a bit of back-and-forth on the impact of power consumption on these forums, and I think this competition would be a great place to factor in and raise awareness on the real costs of power consumption. I understand that electricity costs and system use varies greatly. But I would add in another value analysis incorporating the present value of 3 years' electricity costs using a discount rate (simple excel function 'pv'). Of course you would have to make some broad assumptions around average power, hours of use per day, whether or not you idle the system 24x7, and electricity cost, but I think the present value of 3 year electricity cost would make a decent impact on your value calculations across these systems.
  5. vertexx said:
    Of course you would have to make some broad assumptions around average power, hours of use per day, whether or not you idle the system 24x7, and electricity cost, but I think the present value of 3 year electricity cost would make a decent impact on your value calculations across these systems.


    I would suggest making a forum poll regarding this. From my steam library I can tell that I've been playing games on average 2.25 hours a day over the last 5 years, and since the bulk of my games are on steam (1400+) it's not much below my real usage. However despite being a gamer I find myself having the computer either idle or playing youtube etc for an amount equal to the time I'm playing games. Assuming I'm around average, with regards to gaming:idling ratio, that'd mean perhaps 3 hours gaming and 3 hours idle/video playback a day on average.
  6. Your link is broken.
  7. I'm not sure if this is what Gin Fushicho is referring to, but SurveyGizmo has been subject to a DDoS attack for the last ~24 hours, making your contest survey inaccessible.
  8. Yes to me and most people I know, cost for power and noise is more important than 199 FPS in BF4
  9. A typo:Your $750 build used a i3-4130, not the i7-4770K listed in the tested configurations
  10. the links at the top of the page aren't enabled. the 4th link for value comparison is disabled on all 3 of the sbm pages.

    i didn't agree with any of the motherboard choices in this quarter's build. despite that, all three builds were very interesting in terms of performance, choice of parts and builds.
    my takeaway from this is that ddr3 1333 is not the baseline for cheap system memory anymore. 2x 4GB ddr3 1600 and higher, especially 2x 8GB ddr3 1866 or higher memory is optimum for performance. don not enabling xmp for the $1600 pc's stock performance analysis helped me understand this.
    haswell i7 ramped power and heat really high after 4.4ghz and bit more voltage. both were higher than don's previous o.c. of i5 4670k with asus z87-a board. i still don't like asrock. can you guys compare o.c. clockrates, temperature and voltage of haswell cpus used in sbm in q4 to see which combo was better? imo it'd help with how haswell behaves in real pcs instead of open test benches or test pcs.
  11. Good article, The visual studio test is a little out of date since 2010 is two versions behind the current version VS2013. And the newer versions are starting to use the GPU more, which might shake things up a bit. It might be interesting to add a productivity metric using sql server express, since there are a number of apps out there that use it. It would be nice to see a build off for productively/development machines.
  12. mmm, I'd swear that those i7's are quad-cores...
  13. I echo the noise measurements in db. Not all water coolers are quiet and not all case fans are loud but my work environment hears everything.Currently hard drive noise on a healthy drive is sometimes too loud….
  14. Survey link is busted?
  15. Survey link is busted?
  16. I don't mind seeing Paul win all the time, not at all. I think it illustrates quite nicely that it is simply not necessary to bust a budget to build a competent gamer. Define your minimum requirements, then build for perhaps a notch above that (plus some upgrade room), and you'll be set.
    I'll repeat again my request for non-linear value assessments for FPS>60 in games. I'm not saying it's invisible, but once play is smooth, the subjective experience is not going to get much better. This will make Paul's machine even better in the value analysis.

    I'm really not sure what I would do with any of these. They're all built with some nice parts, but my existing PCs are meeting my needs quite nicely.

    1. $2400 PC: Massive overkill for my needs, but there are things about it I like. I might build this with just one of the graphics cards, then pull the RAID Array out of my "Omega" system and add that, then donate the remainder of Omega for use as a server to a group that needs one. The second graphics card I'd probably give away to a Tom's reader who is not in the US.
    2. $1600 PC: Not sure; I'd probably do some mixing and matching with parts from "Phoenix," likely ending up donating most of this one too (except for the graphics card).
    3. $750 PC: I'd pull the graphics card for a HD6850, add a SSD, and build it for my Mom. She's not a gamer, but would no doubt appreciate the speedup from her older AM3 machine for editing her photos and other media.
  17. In the beginning of the article in the chart, you say the I7-4770K is Hexa core it's actually a Quad core. Other than that, this was an interesting and well written SBM.
  18. 802W from the socket using a Corsair HX750? This is why I recommend a 850W PSU for GTX780 SLI.
  19. 802W from the socket? You don't need half that to play games on "enjoyable" settings.
  20. When did intel update their 4770k's to hexacore? and yes, I know it's just a stupid typo.
  21. So if I set my goal to be able to play BF4 at 60 FPS the $750 build is more than adequate?
  22. filippi said:
    802W from the socket using a Corsair HX750? This is why I recommend a 850W PSU for GTX780 SLI.

    You're forgetting to factor the PSU's efficiency. 802W * 87% efficiency = 700W power delivered to the internals. That's a 93% load on the PSU. It's perfectly safe, you just wouldn't want to add to it. And that's only at a torture test load. Typical use would put you around 80% load or less. If you were mining with this machine, then an 800W or larger PSU would probably be a good idea.
  23. What I'd like to see in these roundups is older builds from prior quarters. I know you compare against the prior quarter in the individual writeups but I would like to see comparisons against machines 1, 2 and 3 years ago.The reason is when I build a higher end machine (1800-2400 price range) I expect it to last me for 3-5 years (potentially upgrading the video card/RAM if they get really out of date) and not just 1 quarter. That's where the real value of the 2400 PC is going to come into play vs the 750 one which will be out of date far faster.
  24. The $750 PC has a great upgrade path. In addition to video card upgrades, you could put an i5 or i7 on it. I think it will be some time before they become obsolete.
    Fwiw and imho, inability to play with "ultramaxOhWOW!" settings does not mean a machine is obsolete; if you can reach "enjoyable," you're good to go.
  25. Quote:
    Survey link is busted?
    FYI, it would appear that SurveyGizmo has finished their switchover to CloudFlare and/or the DDoS has subsided; the Sweepstakes Survey is accessible again.
  26. I love how Tom's article was all "Because you gamer nerds are a bunch of whiny little girls I'm doing this because ...."
  27. somidiot said:
    I love how Tom's article was all "Because you gamer nerds are a bunch of whiny little girls I'm doing this because ...."
    Whining again?

    :p

    Regarding hardware selection, I get two types of responses: 1.) Can you try making the $2400 PC more work friendly and 2.)PLEASE get rid of that stupidly big CPU because gaming is the only thing that matters to anyone. The second group is wrong, but they're also more persistent :)
  28. the top build should have a i7 hexa core and the 750 should for sure be AMD since the 8350 is far superirior to all intell under the i7 and should include a Radeon card. these build are build on pure social bias and not reality. who would build a system for under 1k and not use AMD? the whole point of AMD is to be powerful and a god price. intel is only worth it at i7 and above unless you are only playing single player games all the time.
  29. Intel really needs a low cost core i5 and to trim the prices of the core i3 line. $150 for a core i3 is getting ridiculous. considering i got my core i5 4670k for $200 last month there is no value in a core i3 whatsoever! I hope AMD comes back this year because without competition intel is starting to rip people off
  30. Is the BF4 fps capped at 200fps?
  31. TheRohBoat said:
    Is the BF4 fps capped at 200fps?
    Yes
  32. airborn824 said:
    the top build should have a i7 hexa core and the 750 should for sure be AMD since the 8350 is far superirior to all intell under the i7 and should include a Radeon card. these build are build on pure social bias and not reality. who would build a system for under 1k and not use AMD? the whole point of AMD is to be powerful and a god price. intel is only worth it at i7 and above unless you are only playing single player games all the time.

    Um, you're sure it's not you who is being biased?

    There's a dang good reason AMD GPUs aren't being used in the SBM right now: street price. Each build has a hard price limit and cryptominers have driven the price of Radeons much higher than their MSRPs. Since hard GPU compute benchmarks are not part of the SBM, there's no reason to spend extra on a Radeon right now when you can get similar performance from nVidia's products. Look back over last year's SBM and you'll see quite a few Radeons used when they had a more sensible price.

    And your statement that Intel has no worthwhile chips below the i7 except for single-player games is just laughable. The 8350 runs $200 right now. I can get an i5-4570 for that same price. Anything that uses four threads or less ( which is nearly anything outside professional content creation software, ) will run faster on the i5 at stock speeds. If you want to OC the 8350, that runs you extra money for a cooler and OC friendly mboard. In some ways it's kind of sad that you have to heavily OC an FX to even approach Intel's stock performance ( and have to deal with the extra money, heat, and power consumption that comes with it. )


    Anonymous said:
    Intel really needs a low cost core i5 and to trim the prices of the core i3 line. $150 for a core i3 is getting ridiculous. considering i got my core i5 4670k for $200 last month there is no value in a core i3 whatsoever!

    No value for an i3? Did you even bother noticing how well the $750 machine did in comparison to the others?
  33. If you're wanting to build a Litecoin miner, you'll get a 4xPCIe-slot mobo (like a 990FX Sabertooth) and the cheapest CPU you can find; it's an entirely different build, and would be very hard to address in a SBM.
  34. Onus said:
    If you're wanting to build a Litecoin miner, you'll get a 4xPCIe-slot mobo (like a 990FX Sabertooth) and the cheapest CPU you can find; it's an entirely different build, and would be very hard to address in a SBM.

    Someone brought up the point of using an APU in this kind of build and put further mining threads on the IGP. I wonder how much return you'd get from that as opposed to a 750K.
  35. That might work, but then I think you'd be limited to only 2xPCIe slots. For a miner, I'd rather be able to throw one or two more graphics cards.
  36. No FM2 boards support more than 2 slots?
  37. Hmmm, I see a few with three...
  38. Someday I'll figure out 'why' you guys use some of these oddball resolutions.Please try: 1920x1080, 2560x1440, 2560x1600, 3840×2160, 5760x1080 and maybe a lower or common sub-HD e.g. 1366×768 or 1600×900Thanks! :)
  39. jaquith said:
    Someday I'll figure out 'why' you guys use some of these oddball resolutions.Please try: 1920x1080, 2560x1440, 2560x1600, 3840×2160, 5760x1080 and maybe a lower or common sub-HD e.g. 1366×768 or 1600×900Thanks! :)


    Not sure what you are seeing as an "oddball" resolution. They do have your requested 1600x900 in there, and also already use 1920x1080 and 5760x1080. So the only resolution they use in these benchmarks that isn't in your list is 4800x900... which just so happens to be what you get when you run a configuration of three 1600x900 monitors.

    So are you just saying you want to see them expand their benchmark graphs to include more resolutions?
  40. "the rest of our charts are just numbers, at the end of the day. That’s because each of us uses different games, applications, and monitor configurations in our own systems."Then why not have a more evenly matched comparison? That way you would not have to qualify your results.
  41. iammykyl said:
    "the rest of our charts are just numbers, at the end of the day. That’s because each of us uses different games, applications, and monitor configurations in our own systems."Then why not have a more evenly matched comparison? That way you would not have to qualify your results.
    Because if this were a gaming system shootout we'd need to say "At the end of the day these charts are just numbers, nobody really cares about the difference between 150 and 200 FPS".
  42. I'm still voting to ditch the optical drive.
  43. I loved the summary statements in the form of "[X] cents of performance for every dollar spent beyond the [lower system]".Don't worry too much about pricing out the 3 tiers at 1x, 2x, and 3x. I'm glad that you've been loosening that requirement. I'd like to see it even more loose still. I'd prefer that each tier try to hit the sweet spot in their range/in their description, something like $500-900, $1100-1900, $2100-$3300. Or maybe the rule is each tier can go over or under by 20%.People's spending is far more elastic than they'll admit. If an extra $120 brings in a good bang for the buck, they'll do it. As the contest currently is, I fear that sometimes they might spend money they normally wouldn't. That doesn't teach me where the sweet spots are. That's why I applaud dropping $50 from $800 in this round. Who knows? Maybe next round it'll be $50 over.
  44. a typo in *benchmark and overclocking configuration* in the processor overclock, it should be *i3-4130* instead *i7-4130*
  45. Lee Yong Quan said:
    a typo in *benchmark and overclocking configuration* in the processor overclock, it should be *i3-4130* instead *i7-4130*
    Fixed, thanks!
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