System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,000 Performance PC

Overclocking

ASRock includes several handy integrated overclocking profiles, including 4.6 and 4.4 GHz. The lower of those two profiles worked most of the time, switching core voltage between 1.05 and 1.28 V under various loads. That would have been perfect, except that the system did occasionally (and rarely) crash. We decided to use manual settings to achieve similar results, without any occasional instability.

Our memory willingly complied with an increase from its standard 1,600 MT/s data rate to DDR3-2133. Further down the BIOS page, we set a fixed CPU core of 1.28 V.

When paired with the Core i5-3570K CPU, the Z77 Extreme4’s “Level 1” Load-Line Calibration provided an extremely stable voltage range between the set 1.28 and a maximum of 1.296 V. Keeping the processor below 1.30 V provides the added insurance of longevity.

We were actually able to hold 4.5 GHz for extended benchmarking sessions, without overheating, but again faced occasional and almost mysterious instability. Unwilling to push past 1.30 V, we settled for 4.40 GHz.

We would have expected low-profile 1.35 V DIMMS to get hot at 1.60 V, but Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical LP had no such issues. That extra voltage helped us retain stock 9-9-9-24 timings at this 33% overclock, edging out the CAS 10 timings we achieved last quarter using standard-voltage modules at the same DDR3-2133 data rate.

PowerColor’s Tahiti-LE-equipped Radeon HD 7870 reached 1,200 MHz GPU and GDDR5-6400 fairly easily, though we did need to change the maximum fan speed temperature from 90° to 80° Celcius. Running short of time for fine-tuning, we tried adding 50 MHz, only to have one of our games crash.

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    Top Comments
  • samuelohagan
    Isn't this basically the same thing as the $800 pc but with an ssd?
    26
  • samuelohagan
    I think they should have compared the benchmarks with Q4 $1000 pc.
    20
  • Crashman
    stoogiepoor build, psu too crap, no storage. a expensive version of a 7870 for no reason at all < waste of money
    And my boss wonders why I hurl insults at people who comment without actually reading the article.

    Now instead of insults I can tell people "Don't be a stoogie". Thanks!
    19
  • Other Comments
  • samuelohagan
    Isn't this basically the same thing as the $800 pc but with an ssd?
    26
  • mayankleoboy1
    The only thing i could have tried to change in this build was to get a 64GB SSD , get a 500GB HDD , and if i have any money left, try to get a HD7950.
    Otherwise, not much wriggle room here. Nice build!
    2
  • Chairman Ray
    I'm not sure if having an SSD without an HDD is an attractive option for most people. 240GB goes by pretty fast.
    15
  • samuelohagan
    I think they should have compared the benchmarks with Q4 $1000 pc.
    20
  • lightofhonor
    It actually plays Skyrim WORSE than the $800 build...
    6
  • dscudella
    It's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.
    3
  • Anonymous
    where do you order your PC parts?
    -1
  • Crashman
    mayankleoboy1The only thing i could have tried to change in this build was to get a 64GB SSD , get a 500GB HDD , and if i have any money left, try to get a HD7950.Otherwise, not much wriggle room here. Nice build!
    No point, We Like Our Games To Load Fast!!!
    Chairman RayI'm not sure if having an SSD without an HDD is an attractive option for most people. 240GB goes by pretty fast.
    Programs can eat most of a 240GB drive up. In fact, I just shrunk a copy of the test suite, with OS and games, to 132 GB.

    Using the drive performance measurement to reflect program load times means loading all the programs on the SSD. And that explains why SSD capacity wasn't sacrificed to make more room in the budget for an HDD.
    lightofhonorIt actually plays Skyrim WORSE than the $800 build...
    Nobody knows why, but the $800 PC did use a newer GPU driver.
    dscudellaIt's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.
    So it's going to lose the Day 4 Value Roundup, right?
    13
  • mayankleoboy1
    dscudellaIt's the same PC as the $800 build except they just swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Dissappointing.


    Looking from another perspective, these two builds, with two different builders, with $200 difference, just show(again) how much better price/performance wise are Intel CPU's and AMD GPU's.
    7
  • mayankleoboy1
    CrashmanNo point, We Like Our Games To Load Fast!!!


    I see your point, but I'd rather see slower game loads and better FPS , than faster game loads and lower FPS. And, the OS is accelerated in both cases anyway.
    6
  • coonday
    You guys must really want me to buy that 7870 Myst Edition. I'm actually hoping to see 2 of those cards in a crossfire configuration on the $2000 build.
    3
  • Crashman
    mayankleoboy1Looking from another perspective, these two builds, with two different builders, with $200 difference, just show(again) how much better price/performance wise are Intel CPU's and AMD GPU's.
    Builder 2 copied Builder 1's power supply. Builder 1 copied builder 2's RAM. Both were stuck with the same video card due to availability issues :)
    mayankleoboy1I see your point, but I'd rather see slower game loads and better FPS , than faster game loads and lower FPS. And, the OS is accelerated in both cases anyway.
    Performance difference between Tahiti and Tahiti-LE is fairly small, right? But the price difference isn't small, is it? $1000 PC builder simply hoped for a better overclock, even though that didn't work out.
    coondayYou guys must really want me to buy that 7870 Myst Edition. I'm actually hoping to see 2 of those cards in a crossfire configuration on the $2000 build.
    Nobody wants you to buy the Myst Edition. Tahiti-LE is a good value, if you like that argument pick your favorite vender. Vender choice wasn't available on purchase day.

    But hey, I'm on board with the 7870 Myst Edition CrossFire suggestion...I'll see if we can make it happen!
    3
  • J_E_D_70
    Good call on the bigger SSD over a HDD. Not sure what folks are filling them up with. My other PC has 250GB drive with 400 or so CDs ripped to it, thousands of photos, lots of docs and the office suite and isn't full. Die mechanical drives. Just die.
    -3
  • roltzje
    Im going o defend their choice here, this isnt "Build the best gaming pc for the money" its to build the best performance PC for the money. And having a large capacity SSD along with mid-upper end CPU/GPU seems good to me. If they wanted to build a pure gaming PC the extra $200 would just be spent on the GPU.

    I think theres something to be said about the value at above $1000 though.. past this price range, people really start caring about having a nice case, nice cooler, etc that are more than just performance but aesthetics too.
    5
  • rahulkadukar
    Just do a $2000 build and name it something as "Imaginary build" or something stupid but just do it as a reference for those who may actually spend $2000 on a build.
    -9
  • ta152h
    I think these would be more interesting if they pitted AMD against Intel/NVIDIA at the same price target.

    Most likely they'd end up with a similar ugly case that no one would really want, possibly the same memory and hard disk, but the heart of the system would always be different.

    Besides, people love rivalries. Sure, AMD processors blow in absolute performance, but they're cheap, and maybe the video card can save the day against the evil Intel/NVIDIA empires. It's a lot more interesting than testing two essentially identical machines, except for the hard disk.

    Do it for different price ranges, and it might even be more competitive. $500, $750, and $1000 might not all have the same winner.
    0
  • dudewitbow
    Totally called that the gpu wasnt going to change. marginal benefits to fund the difference between the 7870 LE and 7950.
    2
  • Crashman
    ta152hI think these would be more interesting if they pitted AMD against Intel/NVIDIA at the same price target.
    Every time AMD CPU's lose, AMD fans scream that it was intentional. And why would anyone want to pair Intel with Nvidia when Intel with AMD has so much performance for the money?
    11
  • mayankleoboy1
    Lets do a "Worse of" builds, just for shites and giggles
    Pair a AMD CPU with a Nvidia GPU. So its expensive and may not perform as well.

    (I will be extremely happy if this build performs well)
    -2
  • Crashman
    mayankleoboy1Lets do a "Worse of" builds, just for shites and gigglesPair a AMD CPU with a Nvidia GPU. So its expensive and may not perform as well.(I will be extremely happy if this build performs well)
    I believe Nvidia has lower CPU overhead. So, if you're going AMD for the CPU, you'd might be onto something with the Nvidia GPU.
    4