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Test Systems And Benchmark Configurations

AVADirect’s Mini Cube Gaming PC: Good Looks, Price, And Performance
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Test Hardware Configurations
 AVADirect Mini Gaming PCLenovo Erazer X700ASRock M8 $1535 BuildSBM $2550 Performance PC
Processor
(Overclock)
Intel Core i7-4770K
3.5 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.20 GHz, 1.15-1.25 V
Intel Core i7-3930K
3.2 GHz, Six Physical Cores
O/C to 3.90 GHz, 1.41 V
Intel Core i7-4770K
3.5 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.10 GHz, 1.08 V
Intel Core i7-3930K
3.20 GHz, Six Physical Cores
O/C to 4.20 GHz, 1.25 V
Graphics
(Overclock)
Asus GeForce GTX 780: 889-941 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008AMD Radeon HD 8950: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5000EVGA GeForce GTX 760: 980-1033 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008 O/C to 1200 MHz GDDR5-72003 x EVGA GeForce GTX-760: 980-1033 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008 O/C to 1130 MHz GDDR5-6680
Memory
(Overclock)
16 GB  Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-27, 1.50 V16 GB Hyundai DDR3-1600 CAS 11-11-11-28, 1.50 V8 GB  Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C to DDR3-1600 8-9-8-21, 1.50 V16 GB Mushkin DDR3-1600
CAS 9-9-9-24, Not Overclockable
Motherboard
(Overclock)
MSI Z87I: mini-ITX, LGA 1150 Intel Z87 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKLenovo 10122: microATX, LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKASRock Z87 M8: mini-ITX, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKASRock X79 Extreme6: ATX, LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLK
OpticalLG BH16NS40: 16x BDR / DVD±RPLDS DH12B2SH 12x BDR 16x DVD±RLite-On DC-8A2SH 8x DVDRW
Pioneer BDR-2208: 15x BD-R
CaseLian Li PC-Q28BLenovo X7 series Mid TowerASRock M8
Lian Li PC-9NA
CPU CoolerCooler Master Seidon 120MAsetek 120 x 38 mm Closed Loop Liquid CoolerXigmatek CAC-EXAI6-U01
With Noctua NF-F12 Fan
Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 
Hard Drive2 x Kingston HyperX 3K
120 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
Samsung 830 MZ7PC128HAFU
128 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
Samsung MZ-7PD256BW: 256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerSeasonic SS-760XP2: 760 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS PlatinumAcBel FS8003: 625 W, 80 PLUS GoldFSP450-60GHS(85)-R: 450 W, SFX, 80 PLUS BronzeCorsair HX850: 850 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 331.65AMD Catalyst 13.9Nvidia GeForce 320.49 WHQLNvidia GeForce 326.80 Beta
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017Intel INF 9.3.0.1026Intel INF 9.4.0.1017Intel INF 9.3.0.1026

It's been a long time since we had perfect systems to compare against each other. So, I chose a trio of machines to represent the spectrum of comparison points. Our recent $2550 System Builder Marathon configuration comes closest to AVADirect’s price, the ASRock M8-based setup is closest to its size, and Lenovo's Erazer X700 is the only factory-built model with data points in the same set of benchmarks.

Though Nvidia's graphics cards also support Surround mode, StarTech's MDP2DVID DisplayPort-to-dual-link DVI adapter gives us the flexibility of even higher resolutions in the future, without the need to buy new displays. The adapter also enables 3D Surround mode with our current 5760x1080 configuration.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF)
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam Version, In-Game Test
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled
Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minute, 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.67b, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Benchmark Only
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2013.10.19.50, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • 1 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , December 17, 2013 9:36 PM
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 18, 2013 12:27 AM
    Quote:
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.
    Thanks for catching the pasting errors, it helped me fix two articles :)  As for the rest of the ASRock build, I used what was available. Remember that A WHOPPING 1/3 of the benchmark set does benefit from the i7's added cache and/or HT, and that ONLY 1/3 of the benchmarks benefit from a higher-model graphics card :p 
  • 2 Hide
    bemused_fred , December 18, 2013 2:13 AM
    Quote:
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.


    A 290-X in a mini-ITX case?!? He wants a P.C., not a space heater!
  • 0 Hide
    Menigmand , December 18, 2013 2:35 AM
    "Good looks" are highly subjective... I would say that case is not pretty. If the AVA sticker can be removed, and there's an option without the optical drive, then it would be better.
  • 0 Hide
    vaughn2k , December 18, 2013 3:12 AM
    We'll.. this is another good example of implementing modular cables. But I really don't like the idea of blocking the inside of the computer with a power supply, unless it is designed the way like Thermaltake Elite 120 does...
  • 1 Hide
    vertexx , December 18, 2013 5:02 AM
    Nice article. I'm not for the fake chrome vinyl wrap look, and I would question how long that would last.

    Overall though, it's good to see these guys putting together a nice compact, high performing PC.
  • 2 Hide
    vertexx , December 18, 2013 5:17 AM
    The same parts plus OS can be purchased for ~$1,900. Still, for someone who doesn't want to mess with building a system, it looks like a decent value.
  • 0 Hide
    Steveymoo , December 18, 2013 7:34 AM
    So expensive >< Jesus Christ.
  • 0 Hide
    MooseMuffin , December 18, 2013 8:00 AM
    These guys seem pretty price competitive actually. I just ran through their configurator with a system I put together for myself recently and it came within $150. Not bad considering you get the warranty, and that every other boutique seems to mark up way more with fewer part options.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 18, 2013 9:28 AM
    Love that case. The polished aluminum look should be on all high end builds regardless of chassis size, in my opinion.
  • -1 Hide
    ta152h , December 18, 2013 10:34 AM
    Just looked at the first page, saw the picture, and realized this ugly rubbish wouldn't have any place in my home.

    Ugly things don't sell well. PC makers, and case makers need to make attractive designs instead of wanting people to put these eyesores in their houses. Efficiency is great, but it's secondary to appearance.

    How many people go to the car dealership and base their decision mainly on the aerodynamics of the car? Next to none? Appearance? Lots, even if they refuse to admit it? Efficiency in a case matters even less, but they keep making these ugly monstrosities that we're supposed to pollute our workspace with.
  • 0 Hide
    Adroid , December 18, 2013 1:08 PM
    Not bad. A bit more money than I would spend on a PC, but it's a higher end model. Probably a good buy if you took it and adjusted the OC a bit.
  • 0 Hide
    mouse24 , December 18, 2013 5:54 PM
    Quote:
    Just looked at the first page, saw the picture, and realized this ugly rubbish wouldn't have any place in my home.

    Ugly things don't sell well. PC makers, and case makers need to make attractive designs instead of wanting people to put these eyesores in their houses. Efficiency is great, but it's secondary to appearance.

    How many people go to the car dealership and base their decision mainly on the aerodynamics of the car? Next to none? Appearance? Lots, even if they refuse to admit it? Efficiency in a case matters even less, but they keep making these ugly monstrosities that we're supposed to pollute our workspace with.


    See thats the thing about opinions, everyones got them. I quite like the case. Also I couldn't care less what my PC looks like as long as it runs. How often do you even look at your PC? Maybe once or twice a day when you turn it on and off.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , December 18, 2013 8:09 PM
    Quote:
    Love that case. The polished aluminum look should be on all high end builds regardless of chassis size, in my opinion.


    Quote:
    Just looked at the first page, saw the picture, and realized this ugly rubbish wouldn't have any place in my home.


    And this is why the choice of looks in cases is so varied.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 20, 2013 10:30 AM
    Quote:

    And this is why the choice of looks in cases is so varied.


    What's that saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure"? :lol: 
  • 0 Hide
    dennphill , December 21, 2013 2:32 PM
    Very nice build. Great review, Tom. I like the case - and for reasons others might pooh-pooh - the size and form factor is just right for me. Don't quite need the performance here though, and just spent an hour or so trying to find a configurator on AVADirect that gets me to this case and mobo combo to configure at a slightly lower price and performance levels. Can't find the case available on any of their configurators, though they do list the Lian case as an available part. Schade. Guess I'll just have to contact them, but you'd think with this exposure and such a favorable review, they'd get ahead of the power curve. (Like, for example, an ad with link to the particular configurator on their site!)
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 21, 2013 5:55 PM
    Quote:
    "Good looks" are highly subjective... I would say that case is not pretty. If the AVA sticker can be removed, and there's an option without the optical drive, then it would be better.


    Quote:
    Very nice build. Great review, Tom. I like the case - and for reasons others might pooh-pooh - the size and form factor is just right for me. Don't quite need the performance here though, and just spent an hour or so trying to find a configurator on AVADirect that gets me to this case and mobo combo to configure at a slightly lower price and performance levels. Can't find the case available on any of their configurators, though they do list the Lian case as an available part. Schade. Guess I'll just have to contact them, but you'd think with this exposure and such a favorable review, they'd get ahead of the power curve. (Like, for example, an ad with link to the particular configurator on their site!)


    Yeh, it's a PITA to copy a configuration on their site, you just start out with the "LGA 1150 Mini Cube" or whatever they're calling it that day, pick the black version of the case and if you want the simulated chrome you add that, etc.