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Test Settings And Overclocked Configurations

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: System Value Compared
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Test Settings And Overclocked Configurations

Test Hardware Configurations
 $650 Gaming PC$1300 Enthusiast PC$2500 Performance PC
Processor
(Overclock)
Intel Core i3-3220, 3.3 GHz, Two Physical Cores
No O/C
Intel Core i5-3570K, 3.4 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.3 GHz, 1.3 V
Intel Core i7-3770K, 3.5 GHz, Four Physical Cores
O/C to 4.6 GHz, 1.3 V
Graphics
(Overclock)
PowerColor PCS+ AX7870 2 GB: 925-975 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6000
O/C to 1100 MHz GPU
Sparkle GeForce GTX 680 2 GB: 1006-1059 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008
O/C to 1153 MHz GDDR5-6408
Asus GTX690-4GD5: 915-1019 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008
O/C to 1200 MHz GDDR5-6400
Memory
(Overclock)
4 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, No O/C8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 11-11-11-28 1T, O/C at 1.5 V to DDR3-1866 CL 8-9-9-24 2T16 GB Crucial DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.5 V to DDR3-2133 CL 9-9-9-24
Motherboard
(Overclock)
ASRock B75M-ITX: LGA 1155, Intel B75 ExpressMSI Z77IA-E53: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express
Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express
OpticalNoneLite-On iHAS124 24x DVD±RAsus BW-14D1XT: 14x BD-R
CaseCooler Master Elite 120 AdvancedLian Li PC-Q08BBitFenix Prodigy w/Mesh Front
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink And FanAntec Kuhler H2O 620
NZXT Kraken X40
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD5000AAKX: 500 GB, SATA 6Gb/s Hard Drive
Adata XPG ASX900S3-64GM-C: 64 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerCorsair CX500: 500 W, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS BronzeCorsair CX750M: 750 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BronzeSeasonic SS-660XP2: 660 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.4Nvidia GeForce 314.22Nvidia GeForce 314.22
ChipsetIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Intel INF 9.3.0.1026Intel INF 9.3.0.1026

Rather than manually overclock his memory, Don decided to run it at SPD defaults for baseline measurements and XMP defaults for overclocked tests. I managed to push my DDR3-1600 to DDR3-2133 by adding one cycle to its timings, while Paul’s non-overclockable platform remains locked into its defaults.

Don’s Core i5 system appears to have hit a barrier at 4.3 GHz, which is slightly lower than the 4.4 GHz I’ve grown to expect from Intel's lower-binned quad-core chips. Conversely, my Core i7 offered a better-than-expected 4.6 GHz at the same voltage setting.

GPU overclocking will likely make a far more consistent performance difference in all three systems, but only in games and perhaps the occasional OpenCL-boosted application.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF)
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam Version, In-Game Test
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second 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
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video which includes three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum 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: 0.98: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: 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
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat XVersion 10.0.0.396: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.64a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2013Version Version 2013.01.19.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • 1 Hide
    swordrage , June 25, 2013 9:07 PM
    Finally some builds that cost nearly the same in my country India. Thanks..
  • -3 Hide
    manitoublack , June 25, 2013 10:48 PM
    Great to see M-ITX in a SBM. The days of needing a full sized ATX are mostly over for 90% of people. M-ATO or M-ITX is the way forward.
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 25, 2013 10:58 PM
    The extra $1200 from the $1300 doesn't add much value in this form factor.
  • 2 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 25, 2013 11:46 PM
    Quote:
    Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

    Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.


    They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.
  • -2 Hide
    DarkSable , June 25, 2013 11:52 PM
    Quote:
    They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


    For the parts, or for the computers themselves? Either would be nice, actually.

    One thing that would go a long way is stressing how wonky their testing is - most people reading this as advice for building a computer are going to be building a gaming computer purely, rendering 70% of the test bench pointless.
  • 2 Hide
    slicedtoad , June 26, 2013 12:59 AM
    I still don't like the bf3 benchmarks. They in no way represent the online experience and really, people that play bf3 spend at least 95% of their time on mp. I realize it's nearly impossible to generate a fair benchmark for online play but the current benchmarks are very misleading.

    And I'm not griping at tom's, all review sites seem to do this. There should be some way to create a better benchmark. Maybe host a custom server and load it up with scripted "players" or something.
  • 4 Hide
    allanitomwesh , June 26, 2013 1:00 AM
    Cheaper is better basically :)  Where's that $400 rig?
  • -7 Hide
    Achoo22 , June 26, 2013 1:04 AM
    Quote:
    most people reading this as advice for building a computer are going to be building a gaming computer purely, rendering 70% of the test bench pointless.


    I feel like they've modified the benchmarking suite to favor AMD as much as possible.
  • 5 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 26, 2013 2:29 AM
    Quote:
    I feel like they've modified the benchmarking suite to favor AMD as much as possible.


    And when was the last time an AMD CPU made it into a SBM? Modifying benchmarks to favor a product that is never showcased is a moot point.
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , June 26, 2013 5:41 AM
    I got in mine micro atx 3 intel cpu... i7 3770k i3 3225 and now i have here the i5 3470 and what i can say. 3770k IS fast but hot... i3 3225, its ok can run everthing on max. when u pull 107 mhz on fsb he wake up and get better fps even on gta 4, u don't need a cooler to run the i3. and for now i got here the i5 3470 this have the best valuei can run this at 4.0ghz and i don't get my case hot. good speed barely touch the 3770k on applications. the mostly demanding i miss its about zip and rar files... 3470 epic win. 180usd
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , June 26, 2013 5:52 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Sigh. This is why I really, really dislike the system builder marathons; they do nothing but perpetuate the fallacies that already are far too common.

    Someone looking at just this article, which isn't that unlikely, would be lead to believe that an i7 is something that an "ultimate" gaming computer has, that an expensive motherboard helps, and that a $2500 PC is going to be far better than a $1500 one.


    They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.

    were you looking for something other than the performance per dollar charts present in the last page?
    if you're looking for perf/$$ for individual componentes, look into the component reviews. sbm has figures for the whole pc only, because the whole pc is being tested.
  • 3 Hide
    jee_are , June 26, 2013 5:53 AM
    Quote:

    They really should include performance per dollar figures in this writeup.


    Isn't that exactly what the last two graphs are all about?
  • 4 Hide
    cscott_it , June 26, 2013 5:58 AM
    @DarkSable

    Did you even read the article? At all - or did you just flip through charts? And then not all of the charts, just some of them. In every SMB they always talk about diminishing returns and sweet spots - ALWAYS. And nearly every time the lowest end wins the price/performance category. I've seen the mid rig win a few times, but that was only when they were doing off-the-wall rigs.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , June 26, 2013 7:29 AM
    You know what, @DarkSable read the last 2 pages.

    Anyway, that's not what i had to say.

    What i had to say was, always looking at perf/$ is sort of narrow minded too.

    If someone wanted a minimum of 50 fps maxed out at 1600x900 and above, they'd be looking at the $1300 build.

    If someone wanted the best of everything, they'd look at the $2500 build.

    I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

    I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , June 26, 2013 7:57 AM
    Quote:
    ...
    .
    .
    .
    I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

    I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).

    This. You don't build a PC without specific purpose(s), and without performance targets. And, you cannot judge a build without considering the purpose(s) for which it was built. The SBM PCs are built to compete in certain benchmarks (and to encourage lots of discussion, hopefully intelligent). Most people don't build that way (which is no slight at the SBMs; they are consistently one of my favorite features on this site). My primary PC has a card reader, and one of those 5-1/4" drawers, and a pair of drives for storage in RAID1; you'll never find those in a SBM, nor would I ever call for them. The SBM provides interesting performance and general build data points, and does not claim to be a "build this" instructional article. I do remember a "Build a $500 Gaming PC" article some years ago (featuring a Pentium 805D) which very likely influenced the SBMs, but was written very differently. "Build a ________ PC" would indeed make another interesting and useful instructional series, perhaps one every 2-3 months, NOT always focused on gaming. I'd suggest every other one be devoted [primarily] to something other than gaming, such as HTPC, Home Office, "typical" office, CAD, database, etc. These need not be given away, but could be used as instructional articles for people looking to build. Flesh them out by publishing videos of each actual build, such as on YouTube.
  • 0 Hide
    RedJaron , June 26, 2013 8:47 AM
    Are the CPU temps on page 13 accurate? Don's build stays essentially room temp while idling? Paul's only goes up 2 ºC at load? Impressive.
  • 0 Hide
    lowguppy , June 26, 2013 10:24 AM
    Any chance you could benchmark the Tiki for comparison?
  • 0 Hide
    RedJaron , June 26, 2013 10:50 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    ...
    .
    .
    .
    I personally look to spend that much that gives me around 50-60 fps minimum maxed out (with at least 4xAA) in all games that i play, at the resolution that i play on. Any additional funds go into other things, like storage, power, cooling, the case, etc.

    I'm a big believer in an all round rig. If i'm spending money, i don't want to regret small sacrifices later, and i do that a lot (regret small sacrifices).


    This. You don't build a PC without specific purpose(s), and without performance targets. And, you cannot judge a build without considering the purpose(s) for which it was built. The SBM PCs are built to compete in certain benchmarks (and to encourage lots of discussion, hopefully intelligent). Most people don't build that way (which is no slight at the SBMs; they are consistently one of my favorite features on this site).
    ...
    I do remember a "Build a $500 Gaming PC" article some years ago (featuring a Pentium 805D) which very likely influenced the SBMs, but was written very differently. "Build a ________ PC" would indeed make another interesting and useful instructional series, perhaps one every 2-3 months, NOT always focused on gaming. I'd suggest every other one be devoted [primarily] to something other than gaming, such as HTPC, Home Office, "typical" office, CAD, database, etc. These need not be given away, but could be used as instructional articles for people looking to build. Flesh them out by publishing videos of each actual build, such as on YouTube.

    This hearkens to Paul's comment a few days ago how so many people think a certain budget range automatically denotes certain components, or how you can't claim a certain computer category name if you don't have certain components. I feel like Barbosa in that the code is more about guidelines than actual rules. Everyone can and should put their own spin on a build for their own purposes.

    I like the idea of an instructional series of how to build machines specialized to a certain task. I remember Tom's used to have a standard configuration area where people could submit build lists for a lot of computer types like Sub $500 Intel, Sub $500 AMD, HTPC, Home & Office, Professional Design, Mid-range Gaming, All-Out Gaming, etc. Do those still happen? Have I just lost track of them due to the site changes?
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 26, 2013 11:34 AM
    Quote:

    were you looking for something other than the performance per dollar charts present in the last page?
    if you're looking for perf/$$ for individual componentes, look into the component reviews. sbm has figures for the whole pc only, because the whole pc is being tested.


    Quote:
    Isn't that exactly what the last two graphs are all about?


    Those graphs use the $650 build as the baseline for comparison. This isn't a true performance per dollar representation.


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