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Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $600 Gaming PC
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Current $600 PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Setting
CPUIntel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge), 3.1 GHz, 3.4 GHz Turbo Boost, LGA 1155, 6 MB Shared L3, power savings enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardMSI PH61A-P35
Intel H61, BIOS E7732IMS V1.3 (05-27-11)
Unchanged
RAM4 GB Wintec PC3-10600 Kit
2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.5 V
DDR3-1333, CL 7-7-7-20 1T at 1.65 V
GraphicsSapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
900 MHz GPU, 1050 MHz (4200 MT/s) Memory
990 MHz GPU, 1180 MHz (4720 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda ST3500413AS
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec Earthwatts Green 430 W Unchanged
OpticalSamsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222ABUnchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.11Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 6-series Inf v. 9.2.0.1030Unchanged
September $500 Gaming PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Setting
CPUAMD Phenom II X4 955 BE (Deneb), 3.2 GHz, 1.40 V
2000 MT/s HyperTransport Link, 2000 MT/s CPU-NB,
6 MB L3 Cache
3.8 GHz (19 x 200 MHz), 1.3375 V
2000 MT/s HT Link, 2200 MT/s CPU-NB
CPU CoolerAMD Boxed Heat Sink and Fan, 60-100% target  RPM70-100% target RPM
MotherboardASRock M3A770DE
AMD 770 / SB710, BIOS P1.70 (09/17/10)
Unchanged
RAM4 GB Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 Kit
2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.53 V
DDR3-1333, CL 8-8-8-22 1T at 1.65 V
GraphicsSapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB
900 MHz GPU, 1050 MHz (4200 MT/s) Memory
960 MHz GPU, 1180 MHz (4720 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda ST500DM002
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec Earthwatts Green 430 W Unchanged
OpticalSamsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222ABUnchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.8Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logoUnchanged
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
F1 2010V.1.01, Direct X 11, -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Steam Version, Built-in Benchmark "Concrete Jungle"
Test Set 1: Custom Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Steam Version, Built-In Benchmark
Test Set 1: High, DX11, AAA, 4x AF, No DoF, No PhysX
Test Set 2: Very High, DX11, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, DoF, No PhysX
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Min., Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion 9.0.3.15 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.0.0.1555: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1, Entry, Performance, Extreme Suite
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.2.17.36, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Display all 68 comments.
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
    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.
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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