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Test Setup And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: Value Compared

September 2010 SBM Test Configurations
 $400 PC$1000 PC$2000 PC
ASRock M3A770DE
Chipset: AMD 770/SB710
O/C to 214 MHz Ref. Clk.
Asus P7P55D-E LX
Chipset: Intel P55 Express
O/C to 178 MHz BCLK
MSI NF980-G65
Nvidia nForce 980a SLI
O/C to 188 MHz Ref. Clk.
AMD Athlon II X3 440
3.0 GHz, Three Cores
O/C at X4 to 3.2 GHz, 1.3 V
Intel Core i5-750
2.66 GHz, Four Cores
O/C to 3.75 GHz at 1.36 V
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
2.8 GHz, Six Cores
O/C to 4.0 GHz at 1.43 V
2 GB Crucial DDR3-1333
CL 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V
to DDR3-1426, CL 8-8-8-24
4 GB Crucial DDR3-1333
CL 9-9-9-24, U/C at 1.50 V
to DDR3-1070, CL 8-8-8-22
8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333
CL 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V
to DDR3-1533, CL 7-7-6-20
PowerColor Radeon HD 5670
775 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-4000
O/C to 850MHz, GDDR5-4200
MSI GeForce GTX 470
607 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3348
O/C to 690 MHz, GDDR5-3380
2 x MSI GeForce GTX 480
700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3696
O/C to 816 MHz, GDDR5-4132
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD2500AAJS
250 GB, 7200 RPM
8 MB Cache,  SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital WD36401AALS
640 GB, 7200 RPM
32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
Samsung F3 HD103SJ
1 TB, 7200 RPM
32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalSamsung SH-S223C
22x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
Lite-On iHAS124
24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
Lite-On iHAS124
24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
CaseRosewill BlackboneAntec Three HundredSilverStone Raven RV02-BW
PowerCooler Master Ext. Pwr. Plus
500 W, ~70% Efficiency
Corsair CMPSU-650TX
650 W, 80 PLUS Standard
Cooler Master Silent Pro
Modular, 80 PLUS Bronze
CPU CoolerAMD boxed heatsink & fanCooler Master Hyper TX3
Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 10.7Nvidia GeForce 258.96Nvidia GeForce 258.96
ChipsetAMD Ver. 8.631_W7_logo

A big, inexpensive cooler helps the $2000 PC reach 4.00 GHz, while the $400 PC gets its 200 MHz overclock from a stock cooler. Mid-sized cooling limits the $1000 build to a still-respectable 3.75 GHz.

Memory overclocking is a completely different story. Knowing that most 1.50 V memory will tolerate a 10% voltage increase for several years, the $2000 system was pushed to DDR3-1533 CAS 7, in spite of difficulties that often accompany high-density chips. Mid-priced system builder Don Woligroski forgot that his value award-winning RAM actually runs cooler when overclocked than many 1.65 V-rated modules based on the same Micron D9KPT chips, an omission that negated its enormous overclocking potential. Budget builder Paul Henningsen had better luck with the single-sided version of the same memory, though his DDR3-1426 CAS 8 results are likely limited by the memory controller of his low-cost CPU.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: x64
Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes
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 XPressVersion:
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 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)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 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 = 4,096 KB, 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 and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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