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Graphics Card And Hard Drive

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $600 Gaming PC
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Graphics Card: Sapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB

Radeon HD 6870 prices hadn’t budged in three months. Meanwhile, Radeon HD 6850 models were getting cheaper by the day. So, I was a bit torn when it came time to choose a video card for this quarter. In the end, I squelched my bargain-hunting tendencies and decided we needed to maintain the level of graphics performance seen last time around. The same Sapphire card we used back then offers reference core and memory clocks, along with familiar output connectivity.

Read Customer Reviews of Sapphire's Radeon HD 6870 1 GB


The bundle includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter, two PCIe Molex power adapters (one of which we need to use), and a DiRT 3 game coupon. Unfortunately, there's no bundled Crossfire bridge.

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB

The Seagate Barracuda ST3500413AS was used back in June 2011’s system, and it's basically identical to the drive used in September's gaming PC. It offers 500 GB of capacity, a 7200 RPM spindle, a SATA 6Gb/s interface, and 16 MB of cache. As mentioned earlier, we've seen this drive's price skyrocket somewhere between $90 and $115 recently!

Read Customer Reviews of Seagate's Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 3:45 AM
    Probably the best bang for buck build compared to the $2400 and $1200 PC. I remember seeing Anandtech using the A8 series with integrated gpu for their $500/600 build. This looks much better for gaming.
  • 11 Hide
    doron , December 21, 2011 5:27 AM
    Quote:
    in order to win, the December PC needs to make up for mark-ups on the hard drive and video card, as well as the additional cost of a more feature-rich motherboard.


    Definitely a kick-ass machine, but imo this line is simply wrong and misleading.
    If you factor out today's and September's cpu and motherboard, the difference between the rest of the parts is a mere 8$. Furthermore, with only 2 dimms and no overclocking capability whatsoever I really can't see how you can call this MSI board a more "feature-rich" than September's ASRock.

    The way I see it, today's and September's machines are in two different price segments, and at this low budget, pouring an extra ~90$ can actually give you a lot. For example, given today's system, if we take out the cpu, motherboard and gpu, we will be able to fit inside a Phenom II x4 960T (125$), some 60$-70$ motheboard, an hd6950 1gb gpu, and probably still have room for a 20$ HSF. Talk about value.

    I'm not trying to defend amd here or anything, It's just that a lot of times people come to me asking for advice on what computer to get, and I can fairly confidently say that when someone wants a 4 core sandy bridge at this budget, I'll say to him that I won't help and tell him to go find a deal somewhere because in my eyes, getting a cpu that's 1/3 of your budget only to be able to get an extra minute or two in every benchmark or getting high fps in low resolutions, is too much of a compromise in every other component.
  • 11 Hide
    mortsmi7 , December 21, 2011 5:11 AM
    I wonder how this compares to the $1200 fail rig?
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 3:45 AM
    Probably the best bang for buck build compared to the $2400 and $1200 PC. I remember seeing Anandtech using the A8 series with integrated gpu for their $500/600 build. This looks much better for gaming.
  • -7 Hide
    compton , December 21, 2011 4:00 AM
    The 2500K is really worth the extra cash over the 2400, but only if you purchase a Z68 or P67. For gaming, you might be better off with an i3 and putting the remainder towards a faster GPU as suggested in the conclusion.

    For the price, the 2500K + a P67 or Z68 is unbeatable and certainly worth breaking the budget over. But for SBM, I can see why going the 2400 plus H61 route makes sense.

    Personally, I would have preferred to see a cheaper motherboard and CPU config with an SSD (instead of the mechanical storage). It wouldn't have scored as well, but I can't get by without an SSD as easily as I could a slower processor.

    I wanted the $500 build to get bumped up to $600, but that was to add a SSD so that each SBM machine could have some solid state action.
  • 4 Hide
    slicedtoad , December 21, 2011 4:02 AM
    i might be missing something but on the just cause 2 chart:
    Quote:
    Enabling 8xAA at the highest detail levels pushes our graphics hardware, and this quarter's machine is unable to beat the former rig running at 3.8 GHz, even at our lowest resolution.

    The chart seems to indicate that the current machine did beat the former... though perhaps not by alot.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 4:04 AM
    nice all around build
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , December 21, 2011 4:06 AM
    I was waiting for this to come out. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    slicedtoad , December 21, 2011 4:10 AM
    Quote:
    Stepping down to a more affordable Sandy Bridge-based Pentium or Core i3-2100 would facilitate a GeForce GTX 560 Ti or Radeon HD 6950 at the same budget level.

    So would a 6950 + i3 give better performance in games @ 1080x1920 than this build?
  • -5 Hide
    hmp_goose , December 21, 2011 4:20 AM
    Would a duel-core Celeron hurt gaming that much?
  • 0 Hide
    lancelot123 , December 21, 2011 4:27 AM
    I must be lucky that I can get 2500K for $180 around here. Cheaper than the 2400 they have in this.
  • 11 Hide
    mortsmi7 , December 21, 2011 5:11 AM
    I wonder how this compares to the $1200 fail rig?
  • 11 Hide
    doron , December 21, 2011 5:27 AM
    Quote:
    in order to win, the December PC needs to make up for mark-ups on the hard drive and video card, as well as the additional cost of a more feature-rich motherboard.


    Definitely a kick-ass machine, but imo this line is simply wrong and misleading.
    If you factor out today's and September's cpu and motherboard, the difference between the rest of the parts is a mere 8$. Furthermore, with only 2 dimms and no overclocking capability whatsoever I really can't see how you can call this MSI board a more "feature-rich" than September's ASRock.

    The way I see it, today's and September's machines are in two different price segments, and at this low budget, pouring an extra ~90$ can actually give you a lot. For example, given today's system, if we take out the cpu, motherboard and gpu, we will be able to fit inside a Phenom II x4 960T (125$), some 60$-70$ motheboard, an hd6950 1gb gpu, and probably still have room for a 20$ HSF. Talk about value.

    I'm not trying to defend amd here or anything, It's just that a lot of times people come to me asking for advice on what computer to get, and I can fairly confidently say that when someone wants a 4 core sandy bridge at this budget, I'll say to him that I won't help and tell him to go find a deal somewhere because in my eyes, getting a cpu that's 1/3 of your budget only to be able to get an extra minute or two in every benchmark or getting high fps in low resolutions, is too much of a compromise in every other component.
  • 9 Hide
    theuniquegamer , December 21, 2011 6:12 AM
    I don't understand why use i5 2400 with a h61 ? They can build by a simple i3 + h61 or phenom ii x4 + amd am3+ budget MB and save the money for a better gpu like 6950 or 560 ti
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , December 21, 2011 6:59 AM
    If only Intel had unlocked i3!
  • -5 Hide
    doron , December 21, 2011 7:13 AM
    ashven23If only Intel had unlocked i3!


    ... Then less people would buy i5, so why should they?
    If AMD had offered a similarly compelling alternative to i5 then Intel might have done so.
  • -6 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 21, 2011 8:35 AM
    What I don't get is why you went with an mATX board at all last time. You could have easily gone with a slightly slower processor or some cheaper RAM or something and had a full board. Last I checked, AMD boards were still cheaper than the Intel counterparts.
  • 5 Hide
    Zeh , December 21, 2011 9:03 AM
    Emad, your first comment actually made sense, I'm not sure if that was intended.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , December 21, 2011 9:22 AM
    JonnyDoughWhat I don't get is why you went with an mATX board at all last time. You could have easily gone with a slightly slower processor or some cheaper RAM or something and had a full board. Last I checked, AMD boards were still cheaper than the Intel counterparts.
    I wouldn't cross-off Micro ATX. Take a look at the $2400 PC, then the Micro ATX build that came before it. For slightly less money, Micro ATX was better.
  • 4 Hide
    pauldh , December 21, 2011 9:24 AM
    slicedtoadi might be missing something but on the just cause 2 chart:The chart seems to indicate that the current machine did beat the former... though perhaps not by alot.

    That should have read, (unlike Crysis or JC2 @ low settings), the current STOCK pc, was unable to beat the OVERCLOCKED September PC because of the GPU demands at 8xAA + Max. But you are right, both stock or both overclocked the current PC was a bit ahead.
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