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Test Setups And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: System Value Compared
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Test Hardware Configurations
 $2000 Performance PC$1000 Enthusiast PC
$500 Gaming PC
Motherboard
(Overclock)
Gigbyte Z68XP-UD3
LGA 1155, Intel X58 Express
102 MHz Base Clock
EVGA P67 Micro SLI
LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipset
No Base Clock O/C
ASRock M3A770DE
Socket AM3, AMD 770
No Reference Clock O/C
Processor
(Overclock)
Intel Core i7-2600K
3.40 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.48 GHz at 1.36 V
Intel Core i5-2500K
3.30 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.49 GHz at 1.40 V
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
3.2 GHz, Four Cores
O/C to 3.80 GHz at 1.38 V
Memory
(Overclock)
8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866
CAS 9-10-9-28, O/C at 1.60 V
to DDR3-1901 CL 9-10-9-16
8 GB Mushkin DDR3-1600
CAS 7-8-7-24 No O/C
4 GB Crucial DDR3-1333
CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V
to DDR3-1333 CL 8-8-8-22
Graphics
(Overclock)
2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008
No O/C
2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1 GB: 820 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4200
O/C to 875 MHz, GDDR5-4400
Sapphire HD 6870 1 GB: 900 MHz GPU, GDDR5-1050
O/C to 960 MHz, GDDR5-4720
OpticalLite-On iHAS224-06 24x/8x DVD±R/RWSony AD-7260S-0B 24x/8x DVD±R/RWSamsung SH-222AB 22x/8x DVD±R/RW
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionRaidmax Atlas-295WBNZXT Gamma GAMA-001BK
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 PlusCooler Master Hyper TX3AMD boxed heatsink/fan
Hard DriveAdata S511 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS HDD
OCZ Vertex 30 GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX HDD
Seagate Barracuda 500 GB HDD
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS SilverCorsair CX600 V2: 600 W ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUSAntec EarthWatts EA430D: 430 W, ATX12V 2.3, 80 PLUS Bronze
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 280.26AMD Catalyst 11.8
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.0.1030AMD All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logo
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, 8x AA
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Version 1.0.0.2, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle"
Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene
Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF
Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 9.0.3.15 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 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.0.0.1555: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    revjacob , September 26, 2011 4:44 AM
    Actually what we need now are more affordable 2560x1600 monitors for these enthusiast PCs.
  • 13 Hide
    jprahman , September 26, 2011 5:09 AM
    comptonI think the next quarter SBM should utilize an SSD at all segments. Its just about time when no one should seriously think of not including a SSD a build.


    Yeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    revjacob , September 26, 2011 4:44 AM
    Actually what we need now are more affordable 2560x1600 monitors for these enthusiast PCs.
  • 3 Hide
    compton , September 26, 2011 4:54 AM
    I think the next quarter SBM should utilize an SSD at all segments. Its just about time when no one should seriously think of not including a SSD a build. There are great values out there and even the budget system deserves some love. If a small increase in price segments is necessary, so be it. Going from a HDD to a SSD is like going from IGP to discrete class graphics.

    Also, as a result, more emphasis should be placed on the storage sub system. I know these are gaming configurations, but I'd give up my GPU in a nanosecond if it meant I could keep my SSDs. Fortunately, I don't have to choose, but I would if I had too, and I'm not alone out there. Budget systems don't feel so budget-y with even a modest SSD.
  • -5 Hide
    chumly , September 26, 2011 5:02 AM
    Maybe the value of the $1000 PC would go up if you weren't wasting money on unnecessary or poorly chosen parts. You could add another 4 GB of ram, and swap out the twin stuttering 460's for 6870's (and still have enough money to add a better, modular PSU).

    Here:
    http://i.imgur.com/g22Bq.jpg
  • 13 Hide
    jprahman , September 26, 2011 5:09 AM
    comptonI think the next quarter SBM should utilize an SSD at all segments. Its just about time when no one should seriously think of not including a SSD a build.


    Yeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
  • -5 Hide
    Kamab , September 26, 2011 5:20 AM
    jprahmanYeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.


    there have been 64GB Vertex Crucial drives on sale for < 79$. Which isn't bad.
  • -4 Hide
    Kamab , September 26, 2011 5:20 AM
    And I meant OCZ Vertex / Crucial M4
  • 2 Hide
    compton , September 26, 2011 5:36 AM
    jprahmanYeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.


    That's why I think the $500 system should be closer to $600, maybe like $550. 30GB Agility drives were going for $40 yesterday at the Egg, so its not like you have to spend $300 to get a tangible benefit. That one addition would have contributed a significant performance benefit and the budget category used to be $650 anyway.
  • 3 Hide
    nd22 , September 26, 2011 6:17 AM
    I would have stick to 1 gpu in the 1000 S build. Instead of 2 gf 460/radeon 6850 I would have used 1 radeon 6970/ geforce gtx570 - from persoanl experience 1 gpu = less problems!
  • -3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 26, 2011 6:37 AM
    i think quicksync should be included in the final score as video conversion is something that everyone of us do. and if we buy a SB cpu, then we would surely use quicksync.
    maybe also include windows boot time.
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 26, 2011 6:38 AM
    Quote:
    Recent changes to Z68 firmware appear to have given its motherboards a distinct advantage over their P67 predecessors, even in applications that can’t use Intel’s Quick Sync transcode acceleration


    can you explain more please?
  • -6 Hide
    gondor , September 26, 2011 7:01 AM
    nd22I would have stick to 1 gpu in the 1000 S build. Instead of 2 gf 460/radeon 6850 I would have used 1 radeon 6970/ geforce gtx570 - from persoanl experience 1 gpu = less problems!


    Every single system builder article explicitly states that discounts, rebates and specials don't apply for the purpose of determining price.
  • 0 Hide
    chumly , September 26, 2011 7:15 AM
    nd22I would have stick to 1 gpu in the 1000 S build. Instead of 2 gf 460/radeon 6850 I would have used 1 radeon 6970/ geforce gtx570 - from persoanl experience 1 gpu = less problems!


    A 34% increase in FPS is hard to ignore. Not to mention that if you use dual 6870's you open up the possibility of smooth eyefinity gaming @ 5760x2160 (I think it's pulling ~50 FPS in Farcry 2 with those cards @ high settings). And the 2 cards are only ~$20 more right now.

    Yes, a single card option is great, but I'm not paying $700+ for a 6990.

    You can also get a pair of 560's (minus the ti) for $310 after rebate. Seeing as Dual screen gaming is not supported by any Nvidia cards, I find that it's overkill.
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , September 26, 2011 9:51 AM
    Always limited to US. Sad for dedicated fans like me :D .
  • 2 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , September 26, 2011 12:47 PM
    The $500 build is the only one I'd consider "great". Regardless, you guys did a great job making these informative articles.

    I wonder what other combination could be made up for the Q4 $500 SBM. I'm thinking perhaps a Core i3 2100 with a GeForce GTX 560? The 560 would have to come a bit down in price for that to happen, though.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , September 26, 2011 1:23 PM
    I'm still not sure of the point of running iSSE4.1 tests on a Phenom II considering they don't support SSE4.1, however it's not something that a) would've made a difference to anything, or b) we'll see much of in future.
  • 1 Hide
    Rizlla , September 26, 2011 1:29 PM
    I think the $500 build was the best thought out PC. The other were too much money spend for the performance gains. Most of the $1000 and $2000 builds could have had part replaced by cheaper and just as good parts.
  • -5 Hide
    hyteck9 , September 26, 2011 1:42 PM
    I would like to offer up an annual analysis on these results. Assumptions: your computer usage over an entire year averages out to 2 hours a day. If that $2,000 PC can perform work just 2 seconds faster each minute than the $500 pc, it saves you A DAY of your life each year. 24 hours and change in fact. Which is really more like 3 WORK days if you consider an 8 hour work day. There is no recourse on the lower value PC's for this, unless you buy 2 (or 4) and find some way to cluster them together or farm out your workloads. Of course, you still have to pay for the power twice (or four times) and the cost of time/administration for the cluster, farming, etc... which defeats the time savings.
    Based on this I say the $2000 is totally worth the price. I'd happily pay a one time premium to get a day (or 3 depending in your definition) of my life back each and every year. ...and that was just 2 seconds faster.. imagine if its 10.. or 20 seconds faster? How often do you get the chance to write a check for more free time?
  • 2 Hide
    Yuka , September 26, 2011 1:59 PM
    hyteck9I would like to offer up an annual analysis on these results. Assumptions: your computer usage over an entire year averages out to 2 hours a day. If that $2,000 PC can perform work just 2 seconds faster each minute than the $500 pc, it saves you A DAY of your life each year. 24 hours and change in fact. Which is really more like 3 WORK days if you consider an 8 hour work day. There is no recourse on the lower value PC's for this, unless you buy 2 (or 4) and find some way to cluster them together or farm out your workloads. Of course, you still have to pay for the power twice (or four times) and the cost of time/administration for the cluster, farming, etc... which defeats the time savings. Based on this I say the $2000 is totally worth the price. I'd happily pay a one time premium to get a day (or 3 depending in your definition) of my life back each and every year. ...and that was just 2 seconds faster.. imagine if its 10.. or 20 seconds faster? How often do you get the chance to write a check for more free time?


    You can always go walk around or do something else while the computer "works" on something you don't want to wait sitting, you know...

    Anyway, kudos to the 1k build. But I liked the 500 better, cause you could add a few bucks and get similar/same perf to the 1k (and 2k) build in some areas.

    Cheers!
  • 2 Hide
    hyteck9 , September 26, 2011 2:04 PM
    Yuka, This is quite true. At least for long running processes... I was thinking more of the 3 seconds here... 8 seconds there.. savings which can't be readily translated into "afk savings".
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