Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Test Settings And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: System Value Compared
By

Test Hardware Configurations
 $500 Gaming PC$1000 Enthusiast PC$2000 Performance PC
Processor
(Overclock)
Intel Celeron G530: 2.4 GHz, Two Physical Cores, No O/CIntel Core i5-2400: 3.1 GHz, Four Physical Cores, O/C to 3.8 GHz, +0.1 VIntel Core i7-3770K: 3.50 GHz, Four Physical Cores, O/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.25 V
Graphics
(Overclock)
ECS NGT560TI-1GPI-F1: 823 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008, O/C to 891 MHz GDDR5-4410Sapphire 11197-01-40G: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500, O/C to 1125 MHz GDDR5-6400 Asus GTX680-DC2T-2GD5: 1201 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008, O/C to 1262 MHz GDDR5-7204
Memory
(Overclock)
4 GB Pareema DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.60V to DDR3-1066 CL 6-6-6-144 GB Patriot DDR3-1600 CL 8-9-8-24, No O/C8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-2000 CL 8-10-9-16
Motherboard
(Overclock)
Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V: LGA 1155, Intel H61 Express, Stock BCLKGigabyte P67X-UD3-B3: LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express, Stock BCLKASRock Z77 Extreme6: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express, Stock BCLK
OpticalLG GH22NS90B 22x DVD±RLG GH22NS90B 22x DVD±RLite-On iHAS124-04 24x DVD±R
CaseRosewill R101-P-BKLogisys Optimus IIAntec Nine Hundred
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed CoolerIntel Boxed CoolerZalman CNPS12X
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD3200AAKX: 320 GB, 7200 RPM HDDSeagate Barracuda ST3750525AS: 750 GB, 7200 RPM HDDMushkin Chronos Deluxe MX: 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerAntec VP-450: 450 W, ATX V2.3Corsair CX600 V2: 600 W, ATX12V V2.3, 80 PLUS-CertifiedSeaSonic SS-750KM: 750 W, ATX12V, 80 PLUS Gold 
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 296.10AMD Catalyst 12.4Nvidia GeForce 301.42
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.3.1020


The inability to overclock his processor didn’t completely stop our $500 PC builder in his search for optimizing performance. He chose tighter memory timings and GPU overclocking to slightly boost his scores. Similarly, the $1000 machine builder, Don Woligroski, used his motherboard’s ability to increase his semi-locked CPU's Turbo Boost multipliers by 4x across the board, while also achieving a respectable graphics overclock.

The value competition will still be tough, however, as the 4.60 GHz CPU clock and incredible 1262 MHz GPU / GDDR5-7204 graphics clocks of the sub-$2000 machine is ready to take all comers on the performance side of the price-versus-performance equation.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Seconds Fraps
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF)
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
DiRT 3V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps
Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled
Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
StarCraft IICustom map "Tom's Hardware Guide V2", 60 seconds Fraps
Test Set 1: High Details, High Quality
Test Set 2: Ultra Details, Extreme Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 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)
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.95: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.2.0.5440: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.1 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 15.5 Pro: THG-Workload (650 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.1: THG-Workload (650 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.22: THG-Workload (650 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.10.17.80, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 58 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 5:30 AM
    mayankleoboy1toms, y u no include Quicksync benchies?
    Because it would be mean to the lower-cost PC builders? The truth is that the two applications that use it didn't appear all that popular with our readers.
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 8, 2012 4:53 AM
  • -8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 8, 2012 4:57 AM
    toms, y u no include Quicksync benchies?
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 5:30 AM
    mayankleoboy1toms, y u no include Quicksync benchies?
    Because it would be mean to the lower-cost PC builders? The truth is that the two applications that use it didn't appear all that popular with our readers.
  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 8, 2012 6:08 AM
    the only reason i see to buy a IB over a SB is better quicksync. Rest, they are same.
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , June 8, 2012 6:35 AM
    mayankleoboy1the only reason i see to buy a IB over a SB is better quicksync. Rest, they are same.


    Replace the paste under the IHS on Ivy Bridge and those 3570Ks and 3770Ks overclock better than their Sandy counterparts. The IGP is also good for more than Quick-Sync.
  • 9 Hide
    weedeater , June 8, 2012 6:41 AM
    I would enjoy gaming with a $1100 Enthusiast PC.
  • 9 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 6:45 AM
    blazorthonReplace the paste under the IHS on Ivy Bridge and those 3570Ks and 3770Ks overclock better than their Sandy counterparts. The IGP is also good for more than Quick-Sync.
    And even with the stock IHS implementation, the power savings of Ivy at 1.25V looks good compared to Sandy at 1.35V (assuming both voltage levels get you to 4.6 GHz, which is approximately true).
  • 5 Hide
    blazorthon , June 8, 2012 6:50 AM
    CrashmanAnd even with the stock IHS implementation, the power savings of Ivy at 1.25V looks good compared to Sandy at 1.35V (assuming both voltage levels get you to 4.6 GHz, which is approximately true).


    Yes, thanks. I forgot to mention the improved power efficiency from the new process node.
  • 7 Hide
    jestersage , June 8, 2012 6:57 AM
    As I indicated in the Gaming PC comments, I'm good with Paul's $500 experiment. But an Enthusiast PC at $1100? I figure you'll want to alter all those parts that got Don those un-edifying comments, then yeah! Bring it on!

    Aside from the 2500k, stick a GTX 670 in that thing I'll bet we'll have a real winner (depends on Tom's rules, I guess, since that part wasn't available at the time the SBM purchases were originally made).

    Or step down to a 7870 and stick an SSD in it - for all those clamoring that a $1000 PC should have an SSD.
  • 4 Hide
    blazorthon , June 8, 2012 7:25 AM
    jestersageAs I indicated in the Gaming PC comments, I'm good with Paul's $500 experiment. But an Enthusiast PC at $1100? I figure you'll want to alter all those parts that got Don those un-edifying comments, then yeah! Bring it on! Aside from the 2500k, stick a GTX 670 in that thing I'll bet we'll have a real winner (depends on Tom's rules, I guess, since that part wasn't available at the time the SBM purchases were originally made). Or step down to a 7870 and stick an SSD in it - for all those clamoring that a $1000 PC should have an SSD.


    670 or 7970... Not much of a difference there. The two are effectively on-par with each other, trading blows depending on the game, resolution, and settings. Why not step down to a 7950, get a cheap SandForce SSD, and then up the CPU to the 2500K, all without even sacrificing graphics performance when overclocked? 7950s and 7970s that share a PCB and cooler have pretty much identical overclocking performance with the 7970s having an in-perceptively small advantage at the same frequency and the 7950 able to hit slightly higher frequencies.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 8:42 AM
    jestersageAs I indicated in the Gaming PC comments, I'm good with Paul's $500 experiment. But an Enthusiast PC at $1100? I figure you'll want to alter all those parts that got Don those un-edifying comments, then yeah! Bring it on! Aside from the 2500k, stick a GTX 670 in that thing I'll bet we'll have a real winner (depends on Tom's rules, I guess, since that part wasn't available at the time the SBM purchases were originally made). Or step down to a 7870 and stick an SSD in it - for all those clamoring that a $1000 PC should have an SSD.
    Agreed, using the 670 to get similar performance without going over-budget was part of an alternative version of the conclusion. But as you said, the 670 wasn't available at the time of the order, and the thought of giving the most irate readers more ammo...
  • 3 Hide
    jaquith , June 8, 2012 9:29 AM
    If you're going to have a $2000 System then have a $2000 system otherwise have a $1700 system. Instead you lose consistency and none of this or prior comparisons make any sense.

    Maybe one of these days you'll actually have a system that I could recommend to 'anyone' and something that's Balanced i.e. makes any sense to build. You guys get so caught-up with a few folks that bitch about FPS that some of these systems become mutated into something CrAzY.

    I know damn well none of you would build any of this for yourselves 90% of the time, and to say otherwise would be a lie.

    Bottom-line = Consistency, if you're going to have 'Tom's Hardware Recommended' MOBO's, GPUs, CPUs, RAM, SSDs, HDDs, etc in prior Articles then please use them in the all of Builds! To do otherwise IMO looks really odd.
  • -1 Hide
    ojas , June 8, 2012 9:55 AM
    blazorthon670 or 7970... Not much of a difference there. The two are effectively on-par with each other, trading blows depending on the game, resolution, and settings. Why not step down to a 7950, get a cheap SandForce SSD, and then up the CPU to the 2500K, all without even sacrificing graphics performance when overclocked?

    All true, but the 670 also costs much less, and iirc after an OC it can catch the 680. Could have cut $60-80 in the $1000 build if it were available then. That could have gone into a better case, and a 2500K. Might not have left room for an SSD though, seeing that they were already over by $34...but yeah $1100 could get you that as well...
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 10:19 AM
    jaquithBottom-line = Consistency, if you're going to have 'Tom's Hardware Recommended' MOBO's, GPUs, CPUs, RAM, SSDs, HDDs, etc in prior Articles then please use them in the all of Builds! To do otherwise IMO looks really odd.
    Check out the latest Z77 roundup and see for yourself that a recommended board was used.
  • 3 Hide
    jaquith , June 8, 2012 10:26 AM
    CrashmanCheck out the latest Z77 roundup and see for yourself that a recommended board was used.

    1 out of how many? You know exactly what I mean here, and it's something that been needed for some period to be corrected. In the forum's what do you point/link to the Build or the Recommended?! Then say never mind what TH recommends (there) they meant this over (here).

    Also, if a system is ±$100 with Quality then no one cares if you go over/under if it's the smart thing to do to keep the integrity of the system in line with the more important issue of a balanced system. Prices change daily!

    Think about what I'm saying then next think about what TH Recommended means...what it 'should' mean?

    Most importantly, this is not a complaint to you 'Personally' it's a much needed 'Policy' to help Tom's Hardware. I like you personally, I like TH, and I'd LOVE for Tom's Hardware to be the best!
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , June 8, 2012 11:21 AM
    jaquithit's a much needed 'Policy' to help Tom's Hardware.
    The problem is that we don't cover every board made, and it's usually the cheapest ones that companies aren't interested in promoting. I generally use recommended motherboards and often use recommended cases. I can't really complain about parts being used that fall outside the coverage, because Don and Paul are really trying to cut costs below much of the component coverage.

    What you really need is for me to get out of other types of articles and focus exclusively on covering all motherboards, then for TH to hire a dedicated case reviewer, etc. But we're already pushing five articles a week, so I don't think the added coverage would even fit the publishing schedule.
  • -4 Hide
    envolva , June 8, 2012 12:20 PM
    ArticleWith a couple of little alterations (and a slightly higher cost) we end up asking: would anyone like a $1100 Enthusiast PC?

    I don't want to see a $1100 enthusiast pc. Not one gearing for value while missing a ssd anyway. Still a balanced $1000 pc with windows, monitor, mouse and keyboard included in price would be nice. Don't have to buy those, just select the models and save the money from the total.
  • 1 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 8, 2012 12:24 PM
    ojasAll true, but the 670 also costs much less, and iirc after an OC it can catch the 680. Could have cut $60-80 in the $1000 build if it were available then. That could have gone into a better case, and a 2500K. Might not have left room for an SSD though, seeing that they were already over by $34...but yeah $1100 could get you that as well...


    The only issue is that the 670 is very rare. AMD would drop the price of their 7900's GPUs, if Nividia boost their supply, which isn't happening anytime soon.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , June 8, 2012 12:29 PM
    The $1700 PC was a nice machine. Perhaps a little more heavily focused on gaming than I'd like to see, still none of its parts raised eyebrows. It was a "safe" build, even if a little boring in some ways. If I won it, I'd probably build it as-is, although I'd likely end up selling the GTX680 because my games just don't need that power.
    The $1000 machine used a nightmarish case and made a few uncomfortable compromises. If I win it, I will sell the graphics card to buy a SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a considerably weaker graphics card, and build it for my non-gamer wife in her Antec Sonata III.
    The $500 PC was a remarkable experiment. At its specific target, it seems to do quite well, but for anyone who isn't playing games 100% of the time, it would be an exercise in frustration. Should I win it, I will probably sell the graphics card and CPU for an I5-2400, get 8GB of RAM, and build it for my non-gamer father using his HD6670 as a substantial upgrade over his E6750.

    Similar to what another poster suggested, I'd like to see one of two notable "requirements" in these builds. They must either be something that a real user would actually build, in its entirely (last quarter's $2.6K build was a perfect example, this quarter's $2K build might have made it if the remaining $259 in the budget had been used), OR, it must be an experimental build purely intended to test something legitimate. It might be nothing someone would build, but maybe only because they'd never thought about it. This quarter's $500 build clearly qualifies, and I hope it is remembered as fondly as that quad Crossfire HD4850 build that a few of us have mentioned. With that latter in mind, some ideas might include physically constrained builds (must fit in carry-on luggage, or be suitable for a dorm room) or machines that must achieve certain minimums in a real-world benchmark (not necessarily a game).
    And although I do prefer firm budgets, jaquith has a very good point. $25 here, $50 there, adds up (and where do you stop?), but a single carefully justified $25-$50 "bump," representing perhaps another week of waiting and/or saving, seems reasonable. After all, just think what the $500 PC could have been like with a $100 CPU. It might even be appropriate to allow a "do-over" for a part, such as to avoid a fiasco like the Logisys case, or last quarter's defective motherboard. Afterall, an experimental build could become a total waste due to a single botched part.
  • 1 Hide
    SinisterSalad , June 8, 2012 1:27 PM
    Quote:
    Anyone who thinks that Battlefield 3's single-player campaign might be slightly CPU-bound needs only look at our Medium quality results to find differently. At the most CPU-dependent settings, the frequency-deficient $1000 build nearly catches the sub-$2000 PC.


    I think that most everyone here knows that it's true the single player in BF3 is not very CPU heavy. Multiplayer is a different animal, though. A stronger quad-core can make a huge difference in that realm. I went from a Phenom II 945 to a 2500k, and my FPS jumped 15% with the same GPU setup.
Display more comments