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Application Benchmarks: 2D And 3D Graphics

System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $1,250 Enthusiast Build
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While the Phenom II's overclock gives it a 15% speed increase over stock clock rates, it's not enough to catch the i7's advantage thanks to Hyper-Threading in this application. The overclocked i7-920 performs about 70% faster than the stock Phenom II X4 945.

We didn't use the Photoshop benchmark in our last SBM, so here we can see the overclocked Phenom II showing a nice 22% performance increase over the stock speed.

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  • 22 Hide
    Proximon , September 25, 2009 6:57 AM
    Heh well, not all SBMs have to be perfect. I'm liking the whole experimental phase the SBMs are going through. More educational than just seeing a build I would have done myself.
  • 21 Hide
    skora , September 25, 2009 10:21 AM
    This system was spec'd out and bought about 1 month ago, before the i5s where out. Add in time to receive all the parts, assemble, to get through all that benchmark testing, especially with all the other stuff happening like the i5 and the 5870 launches. But look at this from a differrent angle. Instead of us reading about another build with an intel i7 and 1 big GPU or 2 mid gpus, we get to see an alternative. If I'm spec'ing out a system, I'm looking at reveiws to see options, how this setup compares to that. I applaude THG and Don for giving me something to compare the many i7 builds too. Even if it is to say that for the money, get an intel.

    One question don, when you buy an aftermarket cooler, are you using the included TIM?
  • 12 Hide
    cleeve , September 25, 2009 3:10 PM
    cknobmanBeing a hardware review site you should know better than anyone how badly gpu scaling is beyond 2 cards.


    Do we? How many quad-crossfire 4850 builds have you guys seen tested? Against dual 4890s or triple 4890s?

    If we all accept foregone conclusions without challenging them once in a while, nobody learns anything.

    This build looks bad because it's compared to an i7 machine that isn't CPU bottlenecked; the real test to see if it's all that bad is when it's pitched against the $2500 AMD machine later. Then the CPU bottlenecking won't be much of an issue, and we'll see how it fares against three 4890s.


Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    gkay09 , September 25, 2009 6:32 AM
    I would have preferred the i7 860 paired with 2x HD 4890s or 2x GTX 275s or even a single HD 5870 for this budget...
  • 12 Hide
    drealar , September 25, 2009 6:32 AM
    Monstrosity @1250!!
  • 11 Hide
    frozenlead , September 25, 2009 6:34 AM
    gkay09I would have preferred the i7 860 paired with 2x HD 4890s or 2x GTX 275s or even a single HD 5870 for this budget...


    I agree. I mean, props for quadfire, but it's not really the best choice for the best performance.
  • 0 Hide
    HibyPrime , September 25, 2009 6:35 AM
    Even though it turned out to only be faster at high resolution gaming, I have to commend you guys for skipping the obvious here.

    An i5 750 build probably would have turned out better numbers on the whole, I would probably call this a last hurrah (and the $2500 too, im sure that'll be a quad) for quad CF/SLi based systems being used to run a single 30" monitor.. I'm sure we'll start to see the high end gamers moving over to eyefinity and whatever equivalent nVidia comes up with.
  • 5 Hide
    gkay09 , September 25, 2009 6:35 AM
    But as this is an all-AMD build, the X4 955 would have been a better choice...And did you people come across any driver issues when dealing with Quad-crossfire ?That setup looks like asking for trouble...
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 25, 2009 6:50 AM
    4 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire

    Interesting but frankly not a huge fan of multi gpu set ups to being with let alone a quad fire set up i mean at least with nvidia you have decent scaling, but who am i to complain for that price and it seems to run high rez just fine.

    But that is a *** load of load power draw, noise(not too much nice zalman heat sinks on those cards) and heat coming out of that thing.

    bit surprised when i saw the load Wattage you got i thought the older 1300 rig was a i7 with 2x260's in sli which should come out to be less power draw under load even with a modded 4870 cards

    Little risky build but on the bright side you could run 8 monitors lol

    Conventional would have landed this price in the i5/i7 build with 2x4890's or a bit more powerful cards really depends on which cpu you settle with. Ofc ionno how long ago you order this. Would have came out a bit more rounded but not as great for higher resolutions and AA AF settings.

    This build is more of a high resolution gaming specialist. Personally i've never built a system with just gaming in mind i've always been a man that favors a more rounded system where you spend at least 3/4th of what you put into your gpu into your cpu

    Thomas Soderstrom's $2,500 AMD build tomorrow
    bah $2,500 and no i7 not like the budget couldn't fit very expensive gpu card and cpu in there. Oh well it wont loose out too much in games even with mutli gpu set ups...best have a sound card in there it be very refreshing for tom's builds to sport one. Interesting what monstrosity he has made to share with us.
  • 1 Hide
    kelfen , September 25, 2009 6:51 AM
    I see some scaling issues with x4!!
  • -3 Hide
    jj463rd , September 25, 2009 6:56 AM
    I agree with gkay09 on spending the extra $20 and going with the Phenom II X4 955 BE instead even if it pushes the budget a little over.At this price level I would probably choose a Core i7 build though.I really liked the $650 SBM budget AMD build that was a great choice.
  • 22 Hide
    Proximon , September 25, 2009 6:57 AM
    Heh well, not all SBMs have to be perfect. I'm liking the whole experimental phase the SBMs are going through. More educational than just seeing a build I would have done myself.
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 25, 2009 7:10 AM
    jj463rdI agree with gkay09 on spending the extra $20 and going with the Phenom II X4 955 BE instead even if it pushes the budget a little over.At this price level I would probably choose a Core i7 build though.I really liked the $650 SBM budget AMD build that was a great choice.

    Well it was by demand to make AMD builds and this is what happens they timed it just right to be right after i5 release just to mess with us. AMD builds shouldn't hurt in games but in apps depending it can be murder or breaking even.
  • 0 Hide
    bin1127 , September 25, 2009 7:19 AM
    Can't really do much better than the 920 overclocked but then it's interesting to see AMD in the builds. Also won't the 1gb ram over 4 graphic cards cause some bottleneck at high res? I see good benefits in dual card configurations but 4 really just becomes a waste.
  • 3 Hide
    toxxel , September 25, 2009 7:37 AM
    Nice experimentation going with a 4 gpu amd build. Though people are complaining about no 1156 i5 cpu, I'm sure this system was planned before the cpu became mainstream. Doing something different from the last sbm and doing pretty much the same 920 with a 260 duel gpu build would have been boring. Lets hope that the next $2500 build adds a little spice to the marathon.
  • 1 Hide
    enewmen , September 25, 2009 8:58 AM
    Nice case (I have one). That Tempest can hold 8 3.5" drives and 3 optical drives - without needing screws :) . Great for server, gaming, and over-clocking duty. Also looks good without needing lots of modding. Just be careful not to push the power button too hard.
    The cable under the motherboard feature can help remove cable-mess, but only a little.
    My previous case was 100% acrylic glass. Looked awesome with lots of lights, but any change was a major pain.
  • -6 Hide
    cinergy , September 25, 2009 9:56 AM
    Totally idiotic configuration. One would think that you try to assemble an AMD configuration that looks as bad as possible with that money. 4x 4850, no sense at all. Scaling from 3 to 4 brings maybe 5% performance increase but in many games nothing at all. How about adding just one 5870? And why 945, and not 955 or even 965? Added cost would be minimal.
  • 21 Hide
    skora , September 25, 2009 10:21 AM
    This system was spec'd out and bought about 1 month ago, before the i5s where out. Add in time to receive all the parts, assemble, to get through all that benchmark testing, especially with all the other stuff happening like the i5 and the 5870 launches. But look at this from a differrent angle. Instead of us reading about another build with an intel i7 and 1 big GPU or 2 mid gpus, we get to see an alternative. If I'm spec'ing out a system, I'm looking at reveiws to see options, how this setup compares to that. I applaude THG and Don for giving me something to compare the many i7 builds too. Even if it is to say that for the money, get an intel.

    One question don, when you buy an aftermarket cooler, are you using the included TIM?
  • -3 Hide
    stray_gator , September 25, 2009 10:21 AM
    All out crazy. Me like!
  • 3 Hide
    jj463rd , September 25, 2009 10:28 AM
    cinergyTotally idiotic configuration. One would think that you try to assemble an AMD configuration that looks as bad as possible with that money. 4x 4850, no sense at all. Scaling from 3 to 4 brings maybe 5% performance increase but in many games nothing at all. How about adding just one 5870? And why 945, and not 955 or even 965? Added cost would be minimal.

    At the time of this build that they chose the Radeon 5870's were not out.
    One could substitute 2 Radeon 5850's in crossfire though but they are not yet on the market as I write this response to you and 2 Radeon 5850's would jack up the price to around $558 or about $80 more on their choice of components.It would however use less power and would use full 16 X 16 crossfire though.
    2 Radeon 5870's would be even costlier.

    A question from me would be would 2 Radeon 5850's be better (in terms of better benchmarks in gaming) than 4 of these Radeon 4850's.They will probably be available pretty shortly.

    I agree with enewmen I like that case.
  • 3 Hide
    brisingamen , September 25, 2009 11:27 AM
    well getting ahold of 4 4850's over the next few months might be super cheap, and i would be willing to try it out, its kind of cool running 4 cards! if you got HIS brand ones thier gpu coolers look really cool and in your case lined up would look, well like a monstrosity! or even 4 of the asus ropg cards.

    and that really opens up a neat oportunity to experiment with some interesting cooling solutions, its definitly doable,

    it would be a good choice for some people with 50' tvs that want to game @ 1080p

    i think the scaling will improve with time, its not just the drivers that ati produces its also the game developers increasingly integrating multi gpu support no? i know some games fare alot better than others on multi gpu situations.

    it would be interesting to see if thier is any difference running an i7 with these 4 cards, just not sure how much the cpu was a limiting factor here. i would like to see an article on how several different processors handle 3&4 gpu combinations.

    as someone actually willing to build a 4 gpu setup it would be nice seeing what infact is the cpu requirement to realize the most benefits, like is an i7 needed or it may make little difference, and at what clocks. what card in quad sli/crossfire is actually the fastest setup?

    people spending big bucks are curious!


    awsome articles, keep this stuff spicey!
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , September 25, 2009 11:55 AM
    This build is impressive but I dont agree with it given a price tag of $1250 and mid ranged components in all departments (CPU, GPU, RAM, MOBO). According to the current Newegg prices and including Taxes+Shipping (for California) the total costs become $1426.

    I did a build my self 3 weeks ago before the advent of i7 860. Here's my build with Prices:

    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor $279
    ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler $53
    ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard $170
    CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8G $134
    CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply $140
    SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223B $30
    COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case $120
    2 x MSI NGTX275 Twin Frozr OC $460(with taxes from TigerDirect)

    Total cost including taxes and shipping is $1470.

    I think its obvious which build is better.
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