Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: System Value Compared

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: System Value Compared
By

System Builder Marathon, December 2011: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $2400 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1200 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $600 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected

Introduction

Bigger budgets make room for better hardware. Bigger cases facilitate more cooling. Bigger motherboards allow more cards to be installed.

And yet, somewhere along the way this quarter, that concept went horribly wrong. We ended up with a $1200 PC that underperformed its $1000 predecessor, a $600 PC that went way over budget, and a $2400 full-sized PC that never lived up to the high-expectations set by the microATX build upon which its hardware choices were based.

We're perhaps most sympathetic to the $600 gaming machine's budge woes, since its builder was most vulnerable to recent price surges. Those same price surges also hit the high-capacity drives used in the larger machines, but they weren't as disruptive as an overall percentage of the budgets. Besides, it’s hard to feel sorry for an over-achiever (Ed.: Haters gonna hate?).

Q4 2011 System Builder Marathon PC Components
  $2400 Perfomance PC  $1200 Enthusiast PC  $600 Gaming PC 
ProcessorIntel Core i7-2600K
3.4 - 3.8 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache
AMD FX-6100
3.3 - 3.9 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache
Intel Core i5-2400
3.1 - 3.4 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache
MotherboardMSI Z68A-GD55 (G3)
LGA 1155, Intel Z68 Express
Biostar TA990FXE
Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX
MSI PH61A-P35
LGA-1155, Intel H61 Express
GraphicsPNY VCGGTX580XPB-LC-CPU
PNY VCGGTX580XPB-LC (SLI)
2 x Gigabyte GV-R695OC-1GD
Radeon HD 6950 1 GB
Sapphire 100314-3L
Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
MemoryCorsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8R
DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)
Mushkin Redline 997013
DDR3-1600 C7, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)
Wintec 3AMD31333-4G2K-NHR
DDR3-1333 C9, 2 GB x2 (4 GB)
System DriveCrucial M4 CT128M4SSD2
128 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
OCZ OCZSSD2-1VTXPL60G
60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
Seagate ST3500413AS
500 GB, 7200 RPM HDD
Storage DriveWD Caviar Green WD15EARS
1.5 TB, 7200 RPM HDD
WD Caviar Black WD7501AALS
750 GB, 7200 RPM HDD
Uses System Drive
OpticalLG WH12LS38 BD-RE
12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R
Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD±R/W
24x DVD±R, 48x CD-R
Samsung SH-222AB DVD±R/W
22x DVD±R, 48x CD-R
CaseFractal Design Arc MidiRosewill Challenger-U3Xigmatek Asgard II 
PowerMushkin Joule MKNPSJL1000
1000 W, 80 PLUS Gold
Corsair CMPSU-650TXV2
650 W, 80 PLUS Bronze
Antec EarthWatts EA430D
430 W, 80 PLUS Bronze
Heat SinkPNY XLR8 / Asetek
Integrated Liquid Cooling
Xigmatek Gaia SD1283Intel Boxed Cooler
 Total Cost $2325$1267$654


Concern about the fact that Paul Henningsen’s $600 PC wouldn't overclock at all was quickly squelched by its clean sweep in benchmark performance over the previous System Builder Marathon's overclocked $500 machine.

Display 56 Comments.
Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    slicedtoad , December 23, 2011 5:05 AM
    Quote:
    I need to reply once more... 2x 6950s and a extremely overclocking BD 6100 with only a 650watt ps? These fuggen builds suck

    whats the matter with 650W?

    gaming tdp of 6950s = max 160 * 2 = 320
    bd 6100 95W officially.

    320 + 160 = 480
    overclocking won't need more than an extra 100W max.

    nothing else uses much power. These are budget builds, they're not made for upgradeability.

    EDIT: LOL, I just looked at your profile. Your system has a 1200W PSU for one 6970.
    I'm laughing, yet cringing at the waste of money.
  • 20 Hide
    Darkerson , December 23, 2011 3:52 AM
    I dont even know what to say about how screwed up the Bulldozer build is. The fact that a build that cost half as much can spank it in most regards is just sad. I hope AMD is able to save some face when the revised Bulldozers come out, but sadly, it will be too late for me.

    Edit: Fixed typo. Oops :p 
  • 14 Hide
    theuniquegamer , December 23, 2011 3:57 AM
    The 1200$ pc doesn't perform well in comparison to the 600$ pc
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Darkerson , December 23, 2011 3:52 AM
    I dont even know what to say about how screwed up the Bulldozer build is. The fact that a build that cost half as much can spank it in most regards is just sad. I hope AMD is able to save some face when the revised Bulldozers come out, but sadly, it will be too late for me.

    Edit: Fixed typo. Oops :p 
  • 14 Hide
    theuniquegamer , December 23, 2011 3:57 AM
    The 1200$ pc doesn't perform well in comparison to the 600$ pc
  • 6 Hide
    Dacatak , December 23, 2011 4:02 AM
    DarkersonI dont even know what to say about how screwed up the Bulldozer build is. The fact that a build that cost half as much cant spank it in most regards is just sad. I hope AMD is able to save some face when the revised Bulldozers come out, but sadly, it will be too late for me.


    I'm guessing you meant "can" spank.

    And spank it does.
  • 9 Hide
    hmp_goose , December 23, 2011 4:07 AM
    So the "oopsie" build this quarter with be replacing the $1200 with a i5-2500k?
  • 2 Hide
    Darkerson , December 23, 2011 4:26 AM
    Quote:
    I'm guessing you meant "can" spank.

    And spank it does.

    Yeah, thats what i meant.
  • 23 Hide
    slicedtoad , December 23, 2011 5:05 AM
    Quote:
    I need to reply once more... 2x 6950s and a extremely overclocking BD 6100 with only a 650watt ps? These fuggen builds suck

    whats the matter with 650W?

    gaming tdp of 6950s = max 160 * 2 = 320
    bd 6100 95W officially.

    320 + 160 = 480
    overclocking won't need more than an extra 100W max.

    nothing else uses much power. These are budget builds, they're not made for upgradeability.

    EDIT: LOL, I just looked at your profile. Your system has a 1200W PSU for one 6970.
    I'm laughing, yet cringing at the waste of money.
  • 7 Hide
    silverblue , December 23, 2011 5:21 AM
    There is something horribly wrong with putting multiple GPUs on Bulldozer. I've seen time and time again that a single GPU is generally the faster option. Probably would've made more sense to have the FX6100 build as the $600 one and elevated the $600 build to a dual-GPU config as the CPU can actually cope.

    I think we need a single/multiple GPU article to find out if there's anything that can be rescued from this. Throw in a couple of different motherboards, that sort of thing. Does memory speed make a big difference? Would Windows 8 Beta help in any way?
  • 0 Hide
    giovanni86 , December 23, 2011 5:27 AM
    Be nice to see another SBM in about 6-8 months, i forgot how often you guys do this. But indeed switching out the bulldozer for a Sandy bridge processor like the 2500k sounds like the best idea equipped with a Z68 board n a single or dual gpu's. I'm surprised with the $600 PC build, i wonder how it would handle BF3, since most my friends who want a PC want it for that game specifically. Great overall builds minus the 1200 bulldozer build, hoping to win one of them so i can be generous and give my friend a great christmas gift =D.
  • 0 Hide
    de5_Roy , December 23, 2011 6:01 AM
    imho, all the sbm builds of this month are good. they show how different systems, components at different price, performance points perform. the articles were fun to read. i loved how the locked i5 2400 bested the unlocked, 3 module, 6 core fx 6100. i wonder if other fx cpus bottleneck gfx cards in single mode or multi gpu combo.
  • 3 Hide
    alidan , December 23, 2011 6:36 AM
    DarkersonI dont even know what to say about how screwed up the Bulldozer build is. The fact that a build that cost half as much can spank it in most regards is just sad. I hope AMD is able to save some face when the revised Bulldozers come out, but sadly, it will be too late for me. Edit: Fixed typo. Oops


    and its properly implemented into windows, i dont expect it to be good in windows 7, but i expect their threading solution to get it crap together in windows 8.

    de5_royimho, all the sbm builds of this month are good. they show how different systems, components at different price, performance points perform. the articles were fun to read. i loved how the locked i5 2400 bested the unlocked, 3 module, 6 core fx 6100. i wonder if other fx cpus bottleneck gfx cards in single mode or multi gpu combo.


    realistically, its a 3 core system with threading, and the threading isn't properly implemented yet.

    what i find funnier is how the high end and the low end are so close together that its hard to justify the extra cost.
  • -7 Hide
    Jarmo , December 23, 2011 6:49 AM
    There's inherent value in supporting AMD over Intel. :) 
    Enough that there's only one supplier choice for me when building PC:s...
  • 6 Hide
    ivyanev , December 23, 2011 8:19 AM
    It is good that there is experiments in SBM ,its from our mistakes we learn best.I would like to see next time 600$ PC with BD with the same graphics card to see which CPU is best in the 120$ range(Phenom II vs core i3 vs FX4xxx).
  • 3 Hide
    noob2222 , December 23, 2011 9:17 AM
    would be nice for someone to investigate the problem with the $1200 build
    http://ht4u.net/reviews/2011/amd_fx_6100_4100_review/index29.php

    The review used a single 6950 so its similar in setup

    Mouseover the 6100 shows the I5 2300 121% speed. however somehow this build is 215% to a I5 2400 with a lesser video card (stock to stock @ 1600x1050 no aa)

    There is something besides the cpu crippling the system because you can't go from 121% to 215% while having less gpu power.
  • 0 Hide
    zhihao50 , December 23, 2011 10:56 AM
    noob2222would be nice for someone to investigate the problem with the $1200 buildhttp://ht4u.net/reviews/2011/amd_f [...] ndex29.phpThe review used a single 6950 so its similar in setup Mouseover the 6100 shows the I5 2300 121% speed. however somehow this build is 215% to a I5 2400 with a lesser video card (stock to stock @ 1600x1050 no aa)There is something besides the cpu crippling the system because you can't go from 121% to 215% while having less gpu power.


    I suppose the explanation is that when it was only one graphic card, there is not enough gpu power and thats whats causing the bottleneck, the CPU has to do less to catch up and an i5 might not be fully utilised. So when you get two GPU, the graphic power are increased and there is more demand on CPU and the 6100 just can't keep up hence the lesser performance with dual card.
  • 8 Hide
    salgado18 , December 23, 2011 12:43 PM
    DarkersonI dont even know what to say about how screwed up the Bulldozer build is. The fact that a build that cost half as much can spank it in most regards is just sad. I hope AMD is able to save some face when the revised Bulldozers come out, but sadly, it will be too late for me. Edit: Fixed typo. Oops

    It's a very, very tough time to be an AMD fanboy. :( 
  • 0 Hide
    elbert , December 23, 2011 12:53 PM
    I think the $1,200 build's SSD may be showing corruption slow down. Many will tell you this drive can slow systems to a crawl. I wonder if just using the HD would make a difference. Surly 2 6950's should easily win over a single 6870 in high resolution gaming. Think this system has some major problems.
  • 1 Hide
    grody , December 23, 2011 1:02 PM
    elbertSurly 2 6950's should easily win over a single 6870 in high resolution gaming. Think this system has some major problems.

    Yes it does have major problems. It has bulldozer.
Display more comments
React To This Article