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Test Settings And Benchmarks

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: System Value Compared

Test Hardware Configurations
 $500 Gaming PC$1000 Enthusiast PC$2000 Performance PC
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
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
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
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 
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 296.10AMD Catalyst 12.4Nvidia GeForce 301.42
ChipsetIntel INF

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 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: 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
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 Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version:, 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
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