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Benchmark Results: Battlefield 3 And DiRT 3

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $2600 Performance PC
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Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3's intense graphics workload strongly favors our former system’s SLI graphics array. And yet, Nvidia's fans might have expected an even bigger advantage for its pair of overclocked GTX 580s, given their price premium. We see a maximum performance difference of around 50%.

DiRT 3

DiRT 3 is also blown away by the previous build’s dual-GPU array. Could this be bad news for the final analysis of value this time around?

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  • 30 Hide
    Crashman , March 28, 2012 7:36 AM
    llguitargr8Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released?

    Yes, the parts were ordered around five weeks ago. Tom's Hardware didn't even have a preview sample of the GTX 680 at that time.
    e56imfgDang I need to win this one!! I'm so happy they balanced the CPU with the GPU this time around.

    Thanks, it was one of the most requested changes from our previous high-priced build.
    youssef 2010So, your argument doesn't sound reasonable in my very humble point of view. If you aim to get a good performance in games, choosing dual 7970s is a no-brainer. Also, the performance gain in multi monitor setups favors the 2 7970s.When you factor in the higher motherboard cost, the value and performance per dollar picture gets even worse.

    First and formost, this isn't a gaming machine yet you refer to "Best Gaming CPUs for the Money".

    Second, even if someone wanted to call this a gaming machine they'd be left with the realization that 70% of the benchmarks are not games.

    Third, the decision to use a six-core SB-E was heavily influenced by the complaints of your fellow readers in the last high-end build, which lacked it. I could have easily picked either CrossFire (to boost around 30% of the benchmarks) or SB-E (for a bigger boost in fewer benchmarks) based on reader requests.

    So you're officially nominated to rebut any favorable reader comments concerning the use of an SB-E.
  • 17 Hide
    Darkerson , March 28, 2012 9:33 AM
    For those that KEEP mentioning the damn 680's, they WERE NOT OUT when they bought the parts, FFS! They also said they did NOT want to keep using the 2500Ks.
    If they keep using the same s*** over and over, what is the point? I just dont get how hard a concept that is for some of the people around here. Read the damn articles before commenting...
  • 14 Hide
    silverblue , March 28, 2012 9:05 AM
    Crashman

    You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't, it seems.

    May I point out to some people that the SB-E is a decent step up on the 990X for a good deal cheaper? I could understand the rationale by wanting to go with an overclocked 920 over the 980 and 990 in the past especially considering the $1,000 price tag, but here we're talking a $400 cheaper CPU inside a $2,600 machine which isn't destined to be used only for gaming. Is spending a quarter of the budget on an exceptionally fast CPU which benefits 95% of your work such a waste of money?
Other Comments
  • -2 Hide
    llguitargr8 , March 28, 2012 4:23 AM
    Sorry, *write. It's late.
  • 3 Hide
    g-unit1111 , March 28, 2012 4:32 AM
    Not sure if I agree with that choice of cooler but I definitely like the rest of the setup!
  • 13 Hide
    bystander , March 28, 2012 4:42 AM
    llguitargr8Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released? I really thought you guys would have gone with that, and if it wasn't because they weren't available at the time, then what makes the 7970 better in your opinion?

    Almost all these build articles are based on purchases that took place 2 months ago. Even if they were to have bought these parts today, it would be hard to purchase a 680, as stock is a major issue.
  • 12 Hide
    mjmjpfaff , March 28, 2012 4:51 AM
    I like it a lot. I am glad you mixed it up and went with the x79 platform.
  • 10 Hide
    esrever , March 28, 2012 5:04 AM
    I like the build except the x79 adds like $500 extra that I see very little benefit from.
  • 3 Hide
    Pezcore27 , March 28, 2012 5:04 AM
    Love the build. Do want!
  • 5 Hide
    e56imfg , March 28, 2012 5:05 AM
    Dang I need to win this one!! I'm so happy they balanced the CPU with the GPU this time around.
  • 3 Hide
    hmp_goose , March 28, 2012 5:58 AM
    Good job: Working through the details of the CPU cooler like that is half the fun of this hobby. Great build.
  • -8 Hide
    theuniquegamer , March 28, 2012 7:09 AM
    Good build . But there could be more improvement by replacing a $600 cpu and $320 mother board with a i7 2600k and a $200 z68 mother board . And also replacing the 7970($590) with 2x680 at 2x$500(from the money saved from cpu and motherboard and 7970). It may give better gaming result than this build.
  • -6 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , March 28, 2012 7:22 AM
    llguitargr8Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released? I really thought you guys would have gone with that, and if it wasn't because they weren't available at the time, then what makes the 7970 better in your opinion?

    Look at Some of the previous articles in regards to the GTX 680 both as a single card and in SLI. I noticed that it just depends on the game (or application). Sometimes the GTX 680 outperforms the AMD 7970, and vice versa. As far as I'm concerned, if I was going to buy either one, I'd pick the GTX 680 because it is priced below the AMD 7970. The only possible caveat to that would be a driver issue, in relation to the OS or the motherboard. For instance, my motherboard (which is 5 years old) from what I've heard, only plays well with NVIDIA cards. I don't know if the same thing is true for PCI-e 3.0 compatible motherboards or not, if some are only compatible with NVIDIA or AMD cards or both.
  • 4 Hide
    youssef 2010 , March 28, 2012 7:24 AM
    Quoting your CPU recommendations for March

    "Although they sound impressive, those advantages don't necessarily translate into significant performance gains in modern titles. Our tests demonstrate fairly little difference between a $225 LGA 1155 Core i5-2500K and a $1000 LGA 2011 Core i7-3960X, even when three-way graphics card configurations are involved. It turns out that memory bandwidth and PCIe throughput don't hold back the performance of existing Sandy Bridge machines."

    So, your argument doesn't sound reasonable in my very humble point of view. If you aim to get a good performance in games, choosing dual 7970s is a no-brainer. Also, the performance gain in multi monitor setups favors the 2 7970s.When you factor in the higher motherboard cost, the value and performance per dollar picture gets even worse.
  • 7 Hide
    giovanni86 , March 28, 2012 7:32 AM
    This looks like a great build, glad you guys touched back onto the whole CPU heatsink and memory issue with the x79 boards. I'm actually looking into getting almost that identical board from asus for my x79 build, and am really glad to see the use of a different heatsink besides Noctua's. Cheers to a great build!
  • 30 Hide
    Crashman , March 28, 2012 7:36 AM
    llguitargr8Just curious, did you guys purchase all these parts and right these articles before the GTX 680 was released?

    Yes, the parts were ordered around five weeks ago. Tom's Hardware didn't even have a preview sample of the GTX 680 at that time.
    e56imfgDang I need to win this one!! I'm so happy they balanced the CPU with the GPU this time around.

    Thanks, it was one of the most requested changes from our previous high-priced build.
    youssef 2010So, your argument doesn't sound reasonable in my very humble point of view. If you aim to get a good performance in games, choosing dual 7970s is a no-brainer. Also, the performance gain in multi monitor setups favors the 2 7970s.When you factor in the higher motherboard cost, the value and performance per dollar picture gets even worse.

    First and formost, this isn't a gaming machine yet you refer to "Best Gaming CPUs for the Money".

    Second, even if someone wanted to call this a gaming machine they'd be left with the realization that 70% of the benchmarks are not games.

    Third, the decision to use a six-core SB-E was heavily influenced by the complaints of your fellow readers in the last high-end build, which lacked it. I could have easily picked either CrossFire (to boost around 30% of the benchmarks) or SB-E (for a bigger boost in fewer benchmarks) based on reader requests.

    So you're officially nominated to rebut any favorable reader comments concerning the use of an SB-E.
  • 4 Hide
    sam_fisher , March 28, 2012 8:04 AM
    MonolithicYou fail ^ You sted quote "First and formost, this isn't a gaming machine" and yet you put a $550 Flagship "GAMING" GPU onboard a motherboard I might add that was an additional overpriced waste of resources. Do you guy's not undertand common logic here on TH or are you just into getting people to friviously spend all there money on really what it amounts to is needles things. This build could have be done miles better than it was and if I were your boss you would no longer be my employee in fact you would not have even been hired so take heed this build is trash.


    As Crashman said, this isn't a gaming orientated machine. It was said in the introduction that "Games account for 30% of our evaluation", which is why they put the SB-E processor in it. Putting more money into a better CPU would yield higher overall performance than putting in another 7970 would.
  • 11 Hide
    Soda-88 , March 28, 2012 8:31 AM
    pardon me monolithic, but are you dense? this rig would be a beastly workstation, do you even know anything about gpgpu applications? high end graphics cards today are not just eyecandy for games
    not much of an enthusiast are you

    on topic: i just wish they would put popular video editing/encoding software in their benchmarks such as sony vegas which has the option to render videos using just cpu or cpu+gpu which reduces the strain on cpu by alot and makes the night and day difference in encoding speed with mainconcept's avc encoder (my puny gtx460 cuts encoding time off 4ghz i5 760 by 70%, so i can only imagine what happens with a $500+ gpu)

    i'm effing tired of people who religiously preach how sufficient i3/i5 is, you know, not everyone uses pc to play mw3
  • 14 Hide
    silverblue , March 28, 2012 9:05 AM
    Crashman

    You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't, it seems.

    May I point out to some people that the SB-E is a decent step up on the 990X for a good deal cheaper? I could understand the rationale by wanting to go with an overclocked 920 over the 980 and 990 in the past especially considering the $1,000 price tag, but here we're talking a $400 cheaper CPU inside a $2,600 machine which isn't destined to be used only for gaming. Is spending a quarter of the budget on an exceptionally fast CPU which benefits 95% of your work such a waste of money?
  • 17 Hide
    Darkerson , March 28, 2012 9:33 AM
    For those that KEEP mentioning the damn 680's, they WERE NOT OUT when they bought the parts, FFS! They also said they did NOT want to keep using the 2500Ks.
    If they keep using the same s*** over and over, what is the point? I just dont get how hard a concept that is for some of the people around here. Read the damn articles before commenting...
  • -6 Hide
    Luay , March 28, 2012 9:37 AM
    My PC usage is %50 browsing, %30 gaming and %20 drawing or rendering. Among my friends I am the most moderate gamer so I was expecting Tom to get his butt whooped for spending more than $800 on the CPU/Mobo. The majority of hard-core PC gamers will not only compromise their PC parts for better graphics, but their biological parts and social life as well.

    Intel Core i5-2550K $230 The money saved from buying this CPU can be put in a 120hz monitor. More GPU processing required, less CPU bottle-neck to worry about.

    ASUS P8P67 PRO $160 if you don't mind the rebate.

    Noctua NH-D14 $95 (Zalman lol)

    SAMSUNG 8GB $48 is a game changer. Once everyone uses 30nm, everything else will be obsolete.

    EVGA GTX 680 SLI 508x2= $1,016 when it's available. HD 7970 CF for now. You can add a third just by upgrading the mobo to P67 WS rev for $255

    Mushkin Enhanced Chronos SSD 240GB $249 Did tom's pay more for the extra 1 year warranty?

    Western Digital Caviar Black 1.5TB $158 although I like your idea that slower RPM is more quite.

    LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer $27 As a gamer I don't care for Blue-ray.

    SeaSonic Platinum Platinum-860 860W $220 We agree on something :) 

    Rosewill THOR V2 $130. 140mm rear Fan, 230mm front fan, 230mm top fan, 230mm side Fan. This case with this config. does not even need dampening to make it quite and it can't be beat cooling-wise. Just have to go through hell building in it :) 

    Total: $2,333
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