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Test System And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $1,300 Enthusiast PC
By

The gaming aspects of this comparison should be very interesting. While the AMD CPU in the previous machine may bottleneck low-resolution performance, it will be interesting to see how the four Radeon HD 4850 cards in quad-CrossFire will fare against two Radeon HD 5850 cards in the new build.

We have migrated our testing to Windows 7 64-bit. This will undoubtedly skew some results from our previous Windows Vista 64-bit tests, but Thomas Soderstrom's recent test of the new benchmark suite suggests that gaming results should be extremely close and even application benches should be comparable barring a rare exception in TMPGEnc when encoding DivX video.

Migrating to a new OS from time to time makes for a difficult transition, but it's a necessary evil of course.

$1,300 Enthusiast PC Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardGigabyte P55-UD4P LGA-1156
Chipset: Intel P55-Express
 Unchanged 
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz
Four Cores, 8.0MB L3 Cache
 3.612 GHz at 1.15V,
  172 MHz Base Clock 
Memory2 x A-Data 2.0GB DDR3-1333 Kit
2 x 2.0GB (4.0GB Total), CAS 9-9-9-24
 DDR3-1376,
CAS 9-9-9-24
Graphics2 x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX)
1.0GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card
Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz
 GDDR5-4500
775 MHz GPU
 
Hard DrivesWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
 Unchanged 
OpticalSamsung SH-S2232C
22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM
 Unchanged 
CaseNZXT M59
 Unchanged 
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750HX 750W
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified
 Unchanged 
$1,250 AMD Enthusiast PC (from previous SBM) Test Settings

 

Standard Speed

Overclocked

Motherboard

MSI 790FX-GD70 ATX
AMD 790FX, AM3

 Unchanged

Processor

AMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3 GHz,
200 MHz Reference Clock

 3.675 GHz at 1.46V
245 MHz Reference Clock

Memory

Patriot PVS34G1333LLKN 4GB DDR3-1333
2 x 2GB, CAS 7-7-7-20

 DDR3-1306

Graphics

4 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH
Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire
  1GB GDDR3-1998 Per Card, 700 MHz GPU

Unchanged

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Unchanged

Optical

Sony Optiarc AD-7240S-0B
SATA 24X DVD±R

 Unchanged

Case

NZXT Tempest ATX Tower

 Unchanged

Power

PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75CF
750W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified

 Unchanged

CPU Cooler

Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283

 Unchanged


And now for the benchmarks:

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, No AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.7, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec)
Test Set 1: Highest Details, No AA, No AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 4x AA, 15x AF
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XPatch 1.02, DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.2.1.6 (x64)
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min
wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1
MPEG2 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)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus database 2094, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0
Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Display all 79 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 23, 2009 5:09 AM
    Great build Don! The only thing I'd change is to use the RAM from the $2500 system! It's too bad you didn't have enough money left over to buy a big cooler.
  • 8 Hide
    noob2222 , December 23, 2009 5:22 AM
    Very smoothe build, pretty limited with the 5850s with the pricing once past that, but this thing handles it well, esp since the cpu was lucky enough to stay fast while undervolted.

    Not all cpus are the same, this one compared to the $2500 build definatly shows it. Takes a bit of luck sometimes or bad luck.
  • 0 Hide
    Tridec , December 23, 2009 5:39 AM
    Just a thought, but why not use an I7 920 CPU, with an asrock x58 Extreme motherboard? I see a lot of people bought their I7 920 CPU for 199 dollars and the motherboard costs 170 dollars.
    Pair that up with OCZ 1333 platinum 7-7-7-24 memory, that can easily be overclocked to 1600 7-7-7-24 and you'll have a powerful system with 36 PCI-e lanes and loads of CPU overclocking room thanks to asrock's great motherboard.
  • 2 Hide
    SpadeM , December 23, 2009 6:06 AM
    Good article, and yes the quadfire setup was sweet back then!! I just have a question/suggestion to make, and if you find worthy of a replay I'd much appreciate it.

    Since you are willing to experiment with different setups, and since we see the problem with the Phenom in the application suite, why not try something more exotic like pairing a nvidia based card with the crossfire cards to act like a PPU / video transcoding accelerator (TMPEng supports CUDA at least to act as a filter). I don't know if this makes sense in a marathon build, but I'd like to see something like this benchmarked.
  • 2 Hide
    alchemy69 , December 23, 2009 6:27 AM
    Those delta T over ambient figures worry me. We don't all live in Fairbanks, AK.
  • 4 Hide
    shubham1401 , December 23, 2009 6:53 AM
    This is an excellent build.
    With an aftermarket cooler this build will be flawless.

    Power Draw,Performance all were nice.

    The case looks nice too.
  • 2 Hide
    burnley14 , December 23, 2009 6:54 AM
    I'm not especially interested in the gaming results per se, but this build certainly solidifies my choice to go with an Intel processor over AMD based on productivity benchmarks.
  • -6 Hide
    optional22 , December 23, 2009 7:19 AM
    Aside from the video cards, this is essentially the same build as the $2,500 build recently posted performance-wise. What is the point?
  • -1 Hide
    kick_pixels , December 23, 2009 7:41 AM
    Good system over all… an extra hard drive for backup is essential and the wiring needs some tiding up.

  • 9 Hide
    cangelini , December 23, 2009 10:30 AM
    More specifically, these guys are trying different things each time we do a round of SBMs--sometimes the results are great, and sometimes they're not as good. The point is that we're putting the machines together and reporting on the results so that you can decide if you want to do the same or not. And hopefully, when we come across a result that doesn't look so hot, we'll call out where our mistake was in building the box.

    Just think how boring these would be if every quarter we did a Core i7-920-based machine at $2,500, a Core i5-750 machine at $1,500, and a Phenom II-based box at $700! =)
  • 0 Hide
    davenjes , December 23, 2009 10:30 AM
    Thank you for this build. Can't wait for the comparison of all the December builds. My last computer was significantly influenced by a previous enthusiast build, and it has worked well so far.

  • -1 Hide
    dingumf , December 23, 2009 11:00 AM
    That looks like a Corshair tx750 to me
  • -2 Hide
    zelannii , December 23, 2009 11:40 AM
    I really don;t understand the choice of using 2X 5850 when you could have gotten a 5970 for $20 less. Yea, i know, the day you built it they were not in stock, but the waiting list was down to a week or less a month ago, and they're readily available now... That $20 would have upgraded the CPU to an i7 or the RAM past 4GB.


    Otherwise, great build.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , December 23, 2009 11:48 AM
    zelanniiI really don;t understand the choice of using 2X 5850 when you could have gotten a 5970 for $20 less. Yea, i know, the day you built it they were not in stock, but the waiting list was down to a week or less a month ago, and they're readily available now... That $20 would have upgraded the CPU to an i7 or the RAM past 4GB. Otherwise, great build.


    Actually availability was still a guess when these were ordered. They were ordered a week before the 5970 launched, and it was guessed that the 5970 wouldn't be available for several weeks after launch based on availability of 5870's.

    What I'd love to see is a comparison of "every possible" 58xx/59xx configuration :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Ehsan w , December 23, 2009 12:12 PM
    nice build, but does anybody know why the build got raped on Hawx
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , December 23, 2009 12:21 PM
    A Great big thank you for including mainstream application benchmarks. Much appreciated.
  • -1 Hide
    masterasia , December 23, 2009 12:21 PM
    Wow, this thing totally pwned the Sep. AMD build. Power consumption is way less too. Best bang for buck today.

    The only thing I didn't like is the cable management. I'm a cable management freak and to see Tom's just shove the cables in there like that disappoints me.
  • 0 Hide
    fozzie76 , December 23, 2009 12:32 PM
    "we have to wonder what four of the new Radeon HD 5750s could do in quad-CrossFire. And with a price tag as low as $480" -- THe cheapest 5750 on NewEgg is $139 x 4 = $556. You had me all excited too.. bout ready to do a new build, was gonna switch my two 5850's to four 5750's but I'd rather pay the extra $50.
  • 1 Hide
    jcknouse , December 23, 2009 12:37 PM
    cangeliniMore specifically, these guys are trying different things each time we do a round of SBMs--sometimes the results are great, and sometimes they're not as good. The point is that we're putting the machines together and reporting on the results so that you can decide if you want to do the same or not. And hopefully, when we come across a result that doesn't look so hot, we'll call out where our mistake was in building the box. Just think how boring these would be if every quarter we did a Core i7-920-based machine at $2,500, a Core i5-750 machine at $1,500, and a Phenom II-based box at $700! =)


    ARGGGH!!! Chris! Don't put those thoughts in my head!! :p 

    This was cool to see what that Intel CPU could do. I am kinda jealous now...kinda. Of course, I got a PII 550BE to go 3.7GHz@1.375 on air for $99. So, I can't be too sad...except...C3 stepping came out 3 weeks later. lol

    Another great read and something to consider down the line in building my next rig. I actually am seeing value for the buck now in a line of Intel CPUs. I just wish that i7-920 had been $50 cheaper. I might have gone with them.

    Thanks for another good article, guys.
  • 0 Hide
    xtc28 , December 23, 2009 12:46 PM
    Very impressive I might add. Makes me wish I had kept my i5 and purchased a new MB. Just recently I had an MSI BIG BANG with a i5 750. I tried to run a 4970x2 and a GTX 295 together for some reason both cards, the board and the processor were fried. For the life of me I havent a clue what happened, but it is all good as I have RMA'd all parts but my wall mounted 4870x2. The rest were sold:( 
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