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Who Wins The Value Comparison?

System Builder Marathon Q4 2013: System Value Compared

I already know that my $2400 machine is no more than twice as fast as Paul's $800 effort, and that Don's $1600 configuration falls in the middle.

I also know from reading Paul's Day 1 coverage and writing my Day 3 story that each machine achieves higher value than its predecessor.

Don's previous mid-priced build achieved 70% the value of Paul's low-priced counterpart in September. Don's current build drops to 64% the performance-value of Paul's system. Meanwhile, I climbed from 46% to a much-improved 51%. In other words, Paul wins by more compared to Don, but I lose by less compared to Paul. Considering the traditional low value of high-end parts, I’ll gladly accept that step up.

Those calculations assume you're paying our purchase price, though. What happens if we build the same machines today?

Don’s $1600 machine only went up $5, while my $2400 build increased $300. A smaller $125 price increase hurts Paul’s $800 PC disproportionately, since that's such a significant chunk of the box's original cost. Given the unexpected price hike on AMD's graphics cards, I can only guess that Don's Magic 8-Ball said “Nvidia”. The outcome is that Don gets an unexpected 10% value surge, even though Paul still wins.

Personally, I cut my losses by 2% literally. But that doesn't mean I’m figuratively ready to do the same thing. I like this machine, after all!

A look at the high-resolution gaming performance numbers reveals one reason why I like this machine so much. This work-friendly PC solidly stomps on Don’s game-oriented build, losing the value comparison only by about the difference in CPU prices. And my CPU also proved capable of doing about 70% more work than Don's. So yeah, I'll take that too.

Paul wins as usual, but by less than last time. And his PC is the best value for anyone who can live with it. Builders with the money to spend and the monitors to game on will instead want to choose my $2400 PC. And anyone who wants really great gaming performance at 5760x1080 without breaking the bank should take a closer look at Don’s $1600 machine. But most of you already drew the same conclusions, so I'll turn this Marathon over to the guys giving these three systems away.

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