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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $1,000 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $1,000 Enthusiast PC
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System Builder Marathon, December 2012: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Introduction

I read through Chris' analysis of AMD's Vishera-based FX-8350 very carefully (AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?) and was happy to see that the company at least had a viable alternative to Intel's Core i5-3570K on its hands.

Naturally, I wanted to know how an FX-based System Builder Marathon machine would compare to the box I built last quarter, which housed...a Core i5-3570K. So, I bought similar components this time around, except for the platform, and set off to figure out how our new benchmark suite would treat the competing architectures.

We know the FX-8350's performance can be inconsistent compared to the Core i5 due to its modular design. However, we've run enough tests to know that lightly-threaded workloads generally favor Intel, while more demanding applications go AMD's way. Although the Piledriver design does help the FX in games, we're expecting Intel to retain its advantage in that discipline.

$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte DA-970A-D3, Socket AM3+, AMD 970 Chipset
$70
ProcessorAMD FX-8350 (Piledriver): 4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 4.3 GHz Maximum Turbo Core, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
$220
Heat Sink
Xigmatek Loki SD963 92 mm CPU Cooler
$25
MemoryMushkin Enhanced Blackline: DDR3-1600, 2 x 4 GB (8 GB) Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit
$50
GraphicsGigabyte GeForce GTX 670 GV-N670OC-2GD, 2 GB GDDR5
$350
SSD
OCZ Agility 3: 60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s$65
Hard Drive
Hitachi GST Deskstar 7K1000.C: 1 TB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s$90
OpticalLG GH24NS90 OEM: DVD Burner
$19
CaseHEC Blitz
$50
PowerCorsair CX600: 600 W, ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-Certified
$70
 Total Cost$1,009


Since we ordered the parts for this build, some prices are up and others are down. Fortunately, the current $1,009 price tag is very close to the $1,000 target. Keep in mind that the previous configuration went $57 over budget, and the graphics card alone is down $50 since last quarter.

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  • 23 Hide
    dkcomputer , December 5, 2012 3:43 AM
    Thats like... The worst possible $1k build. wow
  • 21 Hide
    yyk71200 , December 5, 2012 4:30 AM
    mouse24Its not 8 core, its 4 core with dual modules per core. Shared resources. Its why you see an increase in performance between a 4300 and an 8320

    No, its other way around. It is 4 module cpu. Each module contains two integer cores (thus 8 cores total) and one FPU. It is more like reduced 8 core than full 8 core. Neverthles, Intel still is better.
  • 20 Hide
    EzioAs , December 5, 2012 6:10 AM
    It's nice to finally see an AMD platform in the SBM although the performance and power consumption is really a sad one to look to be honest.

    I get that this is an alternative to what is the usual setup for a $1000 PC but it's a poor one I guess. At least people get the idea of how hot the FX8350 runs and that regardless whether you're a fanboy or not, if you're spending $1000 for a gaming machine, buy an Intel cpu and a discrete AMD/Nvidia graphics card
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    CaptainTom , December 5, 2012 3:29 AM
    So a 600w PSU for one 670? Get a 500w, get kingston RAM that is $20 cheaper, a $50-$70 liquid cooler for the FX, and BOOM! More performance for the same price. I get you wanted to test a similar system, but just make that a different article...
  • 11 Hide
    serhat359 , December 5, 2012 3:34 AM
    Could have used a 6 or 4-core FX and made more money for a better cpu cooler and case. You have already demonstrated that more than 4 cores aren't used in gaming and here you have an 8 core CPU...
  • 23 Hide
    dkcomputer , December 5, 2012 3:43 AM
    Thats like... The worst possible $1k build. wow
  • 9 Hide
    boulbox , December 5, 2012 3:43 AM
    @Serhat i agree with you but this would be a better all around build. I think he could have done better though
  • 7 Hide
    wolley74 , December 5, 2012 3:53 AM
    Dat hitachi HDD, you guys do know that Seagate Barracudas are around $70 for 64MB cache 1TB storage and SATA 6 right? and arguably are far more reliable
  • 15 Hide
    aznshinobi , December 5, 2012 4:01 AM
    Why wouldn't you drop down a bit to the FX-8320, that's about $40 saved, that could save you enough money to get the 7970 which clock for clock is better than the GTX 670.
  • -9 Hide
    DjEaZy , December 5, 2012 4:13 AM
    http://valid.canardpc.com/2604796
  • 21 Hide
    yyk71200 , December 5, 2012 4:30 AM
    mouse24Its not 8 core, its 4 core with dual modules per core. Shared resources. Its why you see an increase in performance between a 4300 and an 8320

    No, its other way around. It is 4 module cpu. Each module contains two integer cores (thus 8 cores total) and one FPU. It is more like reduced 8 core than full 8 core. Neverthles, Intel still is better.
  • 10 Hide
    herooftimex , December 5, 2012 4:38 AM
    I am looking forward to 2013. An HTPC with a Haswell K-series processor and an HD 8850 and a Cable card. As long as Simcity 5 is playable at 1080p I'll be happy.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 5, 2012 4:46 AM
    I have a system with a Phenom II that I'm really interested in upgrading to the FX-8350 and I want to see what it can do. For $1K that's not bad at all, but I would have purchased a Cooler Master HAF 912 over an HEC case.
  • 2 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 5, 2012 5:05 AM
    Why not use the SSD and the HDD in RST to make a cache drive for the hard disk?
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 5, 2012 5:08 AM
    g-unit1111I have a system with a Phenom II that I'm really interested in upgrading to the FX-8350 and I want to see what it can do. For $1K that's not bad at all, but I would have purchased a Cooler Master HAF 912 over an HEC case.


    I just got a Thermaltake Chaser MKI and it's not too shabby at all. It's lighter than my old TT Kandalf, and although it uses more plastic it's not a terrible thing. That said, neither one is good for hauling to LAN parties.
  • -1 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 5, 2012 5:09 AM
    yyk71200No, its other way around. It is 4 module cpu. Each module contains two integer cores (thus 8 cores total) and one FPU. It is more like reduced 8 core than full 8 core. Neverthles, Intel still is better.


    If power was more similar, I'd go with AMD still just because I like smaller companies and cheaper prices. That said, I just bought an Ivy Bridge i5 because I was loooong overdue for an upgrade.
  • 4 Hide
    mouse24 , December 5, 2012 5:15 AM
    yyk71200No, its other way around. It is 4 module cpu. Each module contains two integer cores (thus 8 cores total) and one FPU. It is more like reduced 8 core than full 8 core. Neverthles, Intel still is better.


    Sorry, yeah your right. I don't know what I was thinking.
  • 20 Hide
    EzioAs , December 5, 2012 6:10 AM
    It's nice to finally see an AMD platform in the SBM although the performance and power consumption is really a sad one to look to be honest.

    I get that this is an alternative to what is the usual setup for a $1000 PC but it's a poor one I guess. At least people get the idea of how hot the FX8350 runs and that regardless whether you're a fanboy or not, if you're spending $1000 for a gaming machine, buy an Intel cpu and a discrete AMD/Nvidia graphics card
  • -2 Hide
    blazorthon , December 5, 2012 6:24 AM
    Other than power consumption, for gaming, the FX-8350 here did about as well as the previous build's Intel CPU. The only times where it truly did worse, according to these benchmarks, was when it was already far above 60FPS anyway. As I've said before, measuring in frame latency would give a much more accurate show of things, but for gaming and going just by the gaming benchmarks from this article, the FX-8350 kept up excellently in performance, albeit suffering badly in power consumption (which is easily rectified by simply disabling one core per module since there really aren't any games where a 4M/4C FX-8350@4.3GHz (could go a little higher thanks to the extra thermal headroom while still dropping power consumption) is weak. For the FX-6300, slightly higher frequency could easily offset the (then) one fewer cores and the much lower price could put some budget elsewhere.

    Thanks for giving Vishera a try, Toms, but you could have done better with it if you wanted to.

    JonnyDoughIt's great that you built a worse PC for $1000 than you did back in August...But I'd rather see the benchmarks vs the $500 build so I know if that extra $500 is worth it or not. Although I think MOST of us know that between $500-650 is about all one should really spend these days on a new gaming system.


    There will undoubtedly be such comparative benchmarks in the follow-up to the last SBM build this month.

    Also, there's no bad reason for spending more than $500-650 on a gaming machine. It's not until far over $1000 where you start to run out of extra performance for extra money.
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