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Test System And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $1,500 Enthusiast PC
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We'll compare our new build to the Core i5-750 system we put together for our last SBM in late 2009. It's important to note that the graphics card overclocks were almost identical, but the CPU overclocks are quite different. The Core i5-750 made it to 3.612 GHz on stock cooling, whereas the Core i7-920 made it to 3.9 GHz with a Rosewill Fort 120 cooler.

As usual, we always try to keep our benchmarks updated at Tom's Hardware, so a few of the tests have been swapped or run with newer builds of the software. In most cases this shouldn't affect comparison results, but it is something to keep in mind.

The segment most affected is gaming. Firstly, we've swapped the 1920x1200 resolution for 1920x1080, as 1080p seems to be the prevalent resolution for both monitors and televisions. As for game changes, we've dropped Far Cry 2, World in Conflict, and Fallout 3 in favor of more recently released titles such as DiRT 2, Call of Duty: MW2, and Stalker. Crysis remains in the benchmark suite because it still can bring modern hardware to its knees. Even though World in Conflict has been dropped, I've included these results to compare against the previous SBM build.

$1,500 Enthusiast PC Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardASRock X58 Extreme LGA-1366
Chipset: Intel X58 Express
Unchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz
4 Cores, 8MB L3 Cache
3.9 GHz, 195 MHz Base Clock 
MemoryCrucial 6GB (3x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333
533 MHz (1,066 MHz DDR), CAS 7-7-7-59
DDR3-1560, CAS 8-8-8-18
Graphics2x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX)
1GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card
Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz
GDDR5-4500
775 MHz GPU
Hard DrivesWestern Digital Caviar Black 750GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
Unchanged
OpticalSamsung SH-S2232C
22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM
Unchanged
CaseCooler Master CM 690
Unchanged
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750TX 750W
ATX12V, EPS12V, 80-Plus Certified
Unchanged
$1,300 Enthusiast PC (From Previous SBM) Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardGigabyte P55-UD4P LGA-1156
Chipset: Intel P55 Express
Unchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz
4 Cores, 8MB L3 Cache
3.612 GHz at 1.15V,
172 MHz Base Clock
Memory2x A-Data 2.0GB DDR3-1333 Kit
2x 2.0GB (4.0GB Total), CAS 9-9-9-24
DDR3-1376, CAS 9-9-9-24
Graphics2x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX)
1.0GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card, Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz
GDDR5-4500
775 MHz GPU
Hard DrivesWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
Unchanged
OpticalSamsung SH-S2232C
22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM
Unchanged
CaseNZXT M59
Unchanged
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750HX 750W
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified
Unchanged


And now for the benchmarks:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
DiRT 2
In-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Call of Duty:
Modern Warfare 2
Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:
Call of Pripyat
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes
Version: 9.0.2.25 x64
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Handbrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file
from "The Last Samurai" (1.0GB) to .mp4
High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec
28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)
Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s)
Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407
Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra,
Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8
Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Display all 93 comments.
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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2010 7:37 AM
    The labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    shubham1401 , March 17, 2010 6:29 AM
    Now this is an excellent PC for overall usage...


  • 2 Hide
    sabot00 , March 17, 2010 7:01 AM
    Love to have this PC. Great components, really wish Fermi at least drops prices.
  • 0 Hide
    skora , March 17, 2010 7:17 AM
    I find it funny Cleeve that you mention the effects of ATIs monopoly on the high end GPU market but nothing on the CPU front. How much better off would we all be if AMD had a competing product for the Core i5/7s.

    Out of curiosity, how big is the storage capacity needed for your benchmark suit? I know you were over budget, but how close could you have come to one of the lower capacity SSDs and their performance advantages?
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2010 7:37 AM
    The labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , March 17, 2010 7:50 AM
    To be honest, this just somehow seems disappointing to me.
    But then I think of how much I spent on my rig, and got less, I'm even more disappointed.

    It's crazy that prices keep raising on everything though. 6 months ago I was $9/GB for DDR2, in Canadian dollars. $12.50/GB for DDR3. It's absolutely ridiculous.
  • 0 Hide
    Otus , March 17, 2010 7:51 AM
    It looks like i5->i7 is not worth it for gamers. The increases when FPS
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 8:08 AM
    OtusIt looks like i5->i7 is not worth it for gamers. The increases when FPS


    I've got news for you: i3->i7 is not worth it for gamers. Tom's Hardware has an interesting article in the works.
  • 0 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , March 17, 2010 8:15 AM
    @Crashman
    Sounds good, this something to do with the i3 HTed vs traditional quad thing?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 8:20 AM
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss@CrashmanSounds good, this something to do with the i3 HTed vs traditional quad thing?


    I think it's a Windows 7 thread shifting and dual-threaded games thing, since both the i3 and i7 have HT.
  • 0 Hide
    Stardude82 , March 17, 2010 9:20 AM
    SethVNThe labels on all the charts appear to be wrong. They're mentioning a "Current $1300 System" but I thought the current system was $1500?


    The whole comparison is BS. $200 is a lot of money where I come from and the stock cooling on the i5 750 is garbage. The low-end Conroes had much better cooling and they were only 65W TDP. I say stick your no-name heatsink on last quarters machine, call it a $1400 box, redo the overclocking and then publish the results as that way they will be at least somewhat relevant.
  • -8 Hide
    baracubra , March 17, 2010 9:21 AM
    Great build!

    One thing I would change is the case...this doesn't look mean/rough enough for such a gaming rig, and there's no option of adding lights to interior to beef it up cuz the side cover isn't transparent :( 
  • -6 Hide
    Onus , March 17, 2010 9:23 AM
    You broke the budget. Sorry, but FAIL.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , March 17, 2010 9:27 AM
    Seems like a fairly decent article to me. The increase in gaming performance is just staggering o.O

    On a side note, whoever that gets this rig is very lucky, the i7 in this one is probably one of the more overclockables ones, it seems. Too bad I'm just north of the 49th :( 
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 17, 2010 9:31 AM
    Stardude82I say stick your no-name heatsink on last quarters machine, call it a $1400 box, redo the overclocking and then publish the results as that way they will be at least somewhat relevant.
    It's not just "any" no-name sink, it's one that provided surprisingly good performance in its review:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/corsair-h50-fort120,2370-5.html
  • 0 Hide
    RySean , March 17, 2010 9:45 AM
    The RAM for the current build was incorrectly listed as:

    2 x A-Data 2GB DDR3-1333 Kit
    2 x 2GB (4GB Total), 533 MHz (1,066 MHz DDR), CAS 7-7-7-59

    Feel free to delete this comment once it's fixed.
  • 4 Hide
    the_krasno , March 17, 2010 10:08 AM
    I commend you for the case choice. I have that case myself, installed 2 more fans and never regretted it!
  • 0 Hide
    Stardude82 , March 17, 2010 10:10 AM
    CrashmanIt's not just "any" no-name sink, it's one that provided surprisingly good performance in its review:http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 370-5.html


    Nearly any no-name heatsink would be better than the current stock cooling. I wasn't dissing the sink, the defensiveness makes me think there was some shilling for New Egg going on since Rosewill is just the name New Egg slaps on to "unbranded" imports.
  • -3 Hide
    Sihastru , March 17, 2010 10:17 AM
    AsRock motherboard, had one once, NEVER again! The problems are not worth the amount of money you might save...
  • 0 Hide
    peckiro , March 17, 2010 10:41 AM
    Good matchup. For the money though I think I'd still go with the I-750.
  • -4 Hide
    cib24 , March 17, 2010 10:54 AM
    Swap the cooler with a Hyper 212 Plus and the PSU with a Seasonic 750w 80-plus certified Gold and I'd buy it.
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