System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Crysis And Unreal Tournament 3

Once again we start with Crysis, which is one of the most hardware-demanding games available. It would take a far more expensive system with more GPU power to be playable at the maximum DX10 Very High settings used for our testing.

One high note this month is that with higher GPU clock speeds, the overclocked $625 PC finally manages to break 30 frames per second (FPS) at our lowest resolution.

After enabling 4x anti-aliasing (AA), things get worse, so we will again look at more realistic playable settings for Crysis.

At medium details, it’s possible that the Catalyst 8.12 drivers provided a boost in performance as we see up to a 10 FPS increase at stock speeds versus last month's results. We would need to try both driver versions to determine how much was from the E7300 and how much (if any) was from the drivers. At 1680x1050 medium details, the overclocked budget gamer now averaged over 60 FPS for the first time. Raising resolution to 1920x1200, it averaged 44.70 FPS at stock and 53.29 FPS overclocked. And lastly, at 1280x1024 high details, the average at stock speeds was 38.04 FPS, which rose to 44.94 FPS overclocked. Crysis can still play very well on such a system, but would require a blend of medium/high details as resolution is increased.

With Unreal Tournament 3, very playable performance is achieved at the highest detail levels. At stock speeds, frame rates seem to be CPU limited, while we see some separation by resolution with the overclocked PC.  

After forcing eye candy in the drivers, we see a drop in FPS due to the added strain on the GPU. But the HD 4850 still provides very playable results, and once overclocked, even averages above 60 FPS at our highest resolution.

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  • spirto
    once again no amd setup? i thought you said you were going to give us amd users a smb
    -5
  • DFGum
    Sure they could give a 625 dollar AMD setup, but it just wouldnt be as good at this time so why bother?
    Its always about value at the price points.
    5
  • JeanLuc
    What’s the point in an AMD setup when the Intel option gives you better value for money?
    2
  • Claimintru
    Negative'd you Spirto for being a mindless fanboy.
    -10
  • V3NOM
    lol... my e5200 crapped out at 3.7ghz 1.4vcore... someone i know got his e7300 to 4.0ghz at some ridiculous vcore though lol... it really depends on teh chip. some get good VID's, some get bad. some overclock good, some overclock crap, its the natura of binning. naturally e8400's would be binned more than the 5 and 7 series, and the e8500/8600 would be better still.
    0
  • Anonymous
    when r u guys gonna write about the nvidia ion platform?!?!?!?!
    -5
  • zodiacfml
    i wouldn't risk buying an e7300 over an e5200. i have built amd systems, now i'm regretting why i didn't bought pentium dual core which are practically core2duo's with less cache.

    regarding nvidia ion, i think intel is thinking deeply of whether they allow nvidia to Atom since netbooks still sell without it.
    -4
  • Veesofnaught
    I actually just got done purchasing parts for a new pc that ended up being around that same price. This is my first time building a PC so I'm not sure if I could have done better, but I think it's worth mentioning if anyone is interested in going for a Quad Core instead of the Dual Core.

    Intel Quad Core Q6600
    Asus P5QL Pro Motherboard
    NVidia 9800 GTX
    GSkill 4 Gb Ram
    580 Watt PSU
    Rosewill Mid-Tower
    160 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
    SATA CD/DVD Burner
    0
  • Master Exon
    I guess I will share my for-Christmas build with TH.

    $82 2.5GHz E5200 45nm C2D
    $0 (no CPU cooler)
    $54 ASUS P5KPL-CM
    $34 A-DATA 2x2GB (4GB) DDR2 800
    $200 GeForce 260
    $55 WD 320GB WD3200AAKS
    $0 integrated sound
    $0 integrated network
    $12 Spray painted an old beige case black.
    $67 500W SeaSonic
    $22 LG DVD burner
    $10 card reader

    $526 Total

    I don't see why they didn't shave off $40 for the cheaper CPU
    3
  • weinheimer
    That is a nicely configured system at fair pricing
    0
  • Roland00
    I work at frys in the computer department, because of this I weekly check out the ads this is the stuff that are good deals in the computer/components departments
    Prices are good till tommorrow evening (tuesday) at 9 o clock when the store closes. Things are in bold are better deals than listed above.

    Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E7300 & ECS GF7050VT-M Motherboard $99.99
    Patriot 4GB DDR2 PC6400 Dual Memory $49.99 with a 20 dollar rebate
    Antec Three Hundred Ultimate Gamer Case $34.99
    Antec Earthwatts 500W Power Supply $49.99
    Seagate 1.5TB Serial ATA/300 Hard Drive $129.99

    Also good deals
    crucial 4GB DDR2 PC8500 Dual Memory $47.99 $35.99 after rebate
    crucial 2GB DDR2 PC6400 Dual Memory $19.99

    I am just mad that I didn't get the e8500 + crappy motherboard for 134.99 that they had last week.
    note for 99 dollars this is the e7300 not the e7200 the new chip with the higher multipler and is more likely to be a higher bin sort.
    2
  • Roland00
    Quote:
    i wouldn't risk buying an e7300 over an e5200. i have built amd systems, now i'm regretting why i didn't bought pentium dual core which are practically core2duo's with less cache.

    Their is no practically about it, Pentium Dual Cores (unlike Pentium Ds also known as netburst) are the same architecture as Intel Core 2 Duos. They are even made on the same wafer as the high end e8600s. Only difference is not all their cache worked perfectly and/or they didn't go as high as frequencies so they were binsorted into dual cores. Finally intel deactivated the cache that may have worked fine/or may not have worked fine and set the multipler to 12.5 and the bus speed at 200mhz.
    2
  • jamesl
    Master ExonI guess I will share my for-Christmas build with TH. $82 2.5GHz E5200 45nm C2D ... ... I don't see why they didn't shave off $40 for the cheaper CPU

    because that's the cpu they used last month and they wanted to try something different this time, something more powerful.
    as they said in the article, it didn't work out the way they hoped and they won't be using it again
    3
  • jestersage
    Very nice. I would like to see them squeeze in a PhenomII next time... Wonder if they could have squeezed in the CF 4830s (or CF 1GB 4670s?) if they kept the e5200 and changed the mobo to the Asrock P45 that was reviewed by TH last week.

    Lastly, I think the rig can still be overclocked further while keeping the same voltages - if only TH had time to play with the clock skews.
    0
  • caamsa
    For us AMD "fanboys" click the link and read.

    http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=3486
    2
  • bounty
    If you guys had stability problems at 3.6 and 3.8 (at almost 1.5v) and had programs wipe things out to the point that you had to re-install the OS I'm guessing you benched at a non-stable OC (long term). I think you need a do-over at 3.5 otherwise it's not helpful. We wouldn't run our systems that unstable, and the other sbm's you built are/were stable.

    You could give the 7300 another shake next month to check if you just had an unlucky CPU, or the 5200 to see if it was just lucky etc. I just built a 5200 + GA-EP43-DS3L for a friend that went to 3.6 on stock cooling and 1.3625v easily.
    2
  • Pei-chen
    spirtoonce again no amd setup? i thought you said you were going to give us amd users a smb

    No one is telling you to go AMD for $625 so why should you? The best bang for the buck at $625 is an Intel system.

    BTW, a quad core is needed to play GTA4.
    -3
  • caamsa
    GTA4

    Operating System: Windows XP SP2
    Processor: Dual core processor (Intel Pentium D or better)
    RAM: 2GB
    Hard Drive: 18GB free hard disk space
    Video Card: 512MB Direct3D 10 compatible video card or Direct3D 9 card compatible with Shader
    Drive: DVD-ROM dual-layer drive
    2
  • Pei-chen
    caamsaGTA4Operating System: Windows XP SP2 Processor: Dual core processor (Intel Pentium D or better) RAM: 2GB Hard Drive: 18GB free hard disk space Video Card: 512MB Direct3D 10 compatible video card or Direct3D 9 card compatible with Shader Drive: DVD-ROM dual-layer drive

    I have the game and it is very CPU bounded. The recommended spec is a joke as a system with P4D + 8600GT simply couldn’t play the game.
    1
  • scurvywombat
    I would've liked to see an AMD system, but it makes sense that it's not here. Tt this price point it gets pretty competitive between the two, I can understand why Tom's went with the 7300 - overclocking. The new 7750 from AMD looks pretty good, especially when the Egg has it for 75$, though most people are getting 3.2 out of it, maybe a few with 3.4
    6