System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: System Value Compared

Benchmark Results: SiSoftware Sandra

Most enthusiasts are completely familiar with Intel Hyper-Threading technology, which enables an extra logical core for every physical core. This helps to keep parts of each core busy when other parts are occupied, improving utilization of available execution resources, mostly during heavy multi-tasking scenarios. While most of our benchmarks see little to no benefit from its presence, the $2000 machine’s builder paid $95 extra for a CPU that had this feature simply because it’s useful to many real-world buyers (Ed.: It's worth noting that the higher-end CPU also runs at a higher default clock rate and includes 2 MB extra of shared L3 cache, too).

Fortunately, Sandra does benefit from Hyper-Threading, putting the $2000 machine’s 4.48 GHz overclocked Core i7-2600K ahead of the 4.49 GHz overclocked Core i5-2500K in the $1000 build.

The $500 machine’s performance appears quaint by comparison.

We encounter a different type of benchmark-versus-reality situation in Sandra's Memory Bandwidth metric. We know that super-fast memory has barely any advantage over moderately-fast memory in all of our real-world tests. And yet, the $2000 PC comes to the table with far more memory bandwidth. Though this chart might suggest otherwise, the $2000 machine’s DDR3-1866 kit was chosen for its price and availability, and not its showmanship.

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    Top Comments
  • revjacob
    Actually what we need now are more affordable 2560x1600 monitors for these enthusiast PCs.
    15
  • jprahman
    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.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • hmp_goose
    Value, shamlue: Will it run Crysis?

    Oh: Wait …
    -13
  • revjacob
    Actually what we need now are more affordable 2560x1600 monitors for these enthusiast PCs.
    15
  • compton
    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.
    3
  • chumly
    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
    -5
  • jprahman
    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.
    13
  • Kamab
    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.
    -5
  • Kamab
    And I meant OCZ Vertex / Crucial M4
    -4
  • compton
    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.
    2
  • nd22
    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
  • mayankleoboy1
    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.
    -3
  • mayankleoboy1
    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?
    4
  • gondor
    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.
    -6
  • chumly
    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
  • cats_Paw
    Always limited to US. Sad for dedicated fans like me :D.
    0
  • AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls
    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.
    2
  • silverblue
    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.
    0
  • Rizlla
    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.
    1
  • hyteck9
    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?
    -5
  • Yuka
    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
  • hyteck9
    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".
    2