System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build

Value Conclusion

Value is the one place where the former $2000 build got kicked around, since it offered similar overall performance to the $1000 system. The old system gets boosted slightly in today’s comparison because we're including its 2560x1600 game performance (an area where its super-expensive graphics system excels). How well does its potential replacement fare?

The original $2000 build still looks bad at stock speed, but overclocking brings it up to 75% of the $1000 system’s base value. The new $2000 build does better, but doesn’t quite cross that baseline value when overclocked. Such is often the price of high-end hardware, though in this particular case, the processor’s extreme cost actually prevented us from buying the high-end cooling hardware needed to push it to an acceptable overclocking limit. Newegg's SuperCombo pricing increases the new system's value by 5% in this chart, reducing the "high-end hardware" value penalty significantly.

At least the new system was quiet, and that’s a metric not covered by our benchmarks.

We keep mentioning that the biggest problem with our former comparison was its lack of high-resolution gaming results, since the original $2000 PC’s apparent mismatch of GPU to CPU power could only be rectified at high resolutions. The lack of those results caused several readers to question whether its graphics cards were even in SLI mode, since a weak CPU caused it to fall behind a far-lesser $1000 build in several benchmarks. But what happens if we focus exclusively on 2560x1600 gaming performance?

With the CPU bottleneck at least partially obscured behind GPU limits, the original $2000 PC shines. In overclocked trim, it has twice the performance of our baseline single GeForce GTX 470, again in spite of its mismatched CPU. Even the high-flying alternative build suffers at the hand of the Phenom-powered GeForce GTX 480 SLI rig when resolutions are set this high.

In other words, it’s simply not fair to compare the gaming value of a GeForce GTX 480 SLI-equipped system at graphics resolutions below four megapixels (2560x1600). On the other hand, it’s not really fair to put a value score on the gaming performance of a low-cost system at resolutions higher than 2 megapixels (1920x1080). Because we always strive to prove the ultimate value of all three systems in the fairest possible manner, GeForce GTX 480 SLI joins SSD drives in the “too much cost, too little benchmark benefit” class of hardware that’s rarely (if ever) used in the System Builder Marathon series. AMD’s Phenom II X6 could reappear in a less-expensive system, however, and that becomes more likely as our benchmarks evolve to take advantage of its extra cores.

The bottom line is that today's alternative $2000 build beat up the original $2000 build in both performance and value, in part because half of our benchmarks are heavily skewed towards mainstream hardware. Yet, we design our benchmarks to represent real-world situations.

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    Top Comments
  • tacoslave
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
    16
  • Crashman
    pinkfloydminnesotaA 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?
    The 970 was a sub for the 1055T: Please outline a 970 build with GTX 480's for $2000 if you'd like to add credibility to your incredulity. Thanks!

    eyefinityWho wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?
    Actually I proposed that for an upcoming SBM, but it couldn't be included this time since the former systems had already been decommissioned for shipment to the contest winners. So, who's up for an ATI EyeFinity/Nvidia Surround SBM?
    12
  • cangelini
    pinkfloydminnesotaA 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?


    The story has the numbers to *prove* the improvements made to this build. This is a solid configuration that we have no problem recommending.

    Aside from that, we enjoy the luxury on the editorial side of operating completely separately from sales. In this case, our follow-up system was a good move editorially, and we get to give it away, to boot.

    Best,
    Chris Angelini
    11
  • Other Comments
  • Randomacts
    Yay more giveaways!
    2
  • tacoslave
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
    16
  • duk3
    I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.
    With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.
    2
  • Crashman
    duk3I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.
    yes, the i7-930 and a couple 470's would be normal in the SBM $2000 PC.
    5
  • cojj
    how do I enter for the giveaway?
    0
  • Crashman
    cojjhow do I enter for the giveaway?

    Click the link in the announcement?
    1
  • IzzyCraft
    I guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone Raven
    2
  • Crashman
    IzzyCraftI guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone Raven
    Quality-wise, the Three Hundred is probably the best case you can get for under $80, but there should have been one more fan in the system given the internally-vented graphics cards the system ended up with. On the other hand, a lot of builders would be more than happy to "settle for" 4GHz at 1.30V, and the CPU will certainly live longer at the lower voltage.
    2
  • brisingamen
    i prefer the six core gtx 480 sli rig.
    -7
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    A 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?
    -18
  • eyefinity
    Who wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?
    2
  • Crashman
    pinkfloydminnesotaA 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?
    The 970 was a sub for the 1055T: Please outline a 970 build with GTX 480's for $2000 if you'd like to add credibility to your incredulity. Thanks!

    eyefinityWho wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?
    Actually I proposed that for an upcoming SBM, but it couldn't be included this time since the former systems had already been decommissioned for shipment to the contest winners. So, who's up for an ATI EyeFinity/Nvidia Surround SBM?
    12
  • cangelini
    pinkfloydminnesotaA 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?


    The story has the numbers to *prove* the improvements made to this build. This is a solid configuration that we have no problem recommending.

    Aside from that, we enjoy the luxury on the editorial side of operating completely separately from sales. In this case, our follow-up system was a good move editorially, and we get to give it away, to boot.

    Best,
    Chris Angelini
    11
  • stm1185
    eyefinityWho wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?


    Someone not wanting to spend an extra $1000 on monitors.
    3
  • Anonymous
    Quote:
    The 970 was a sub for the 1055T: Please outline a 970 build with GTX 480's for $2000 if you'd like to add credibility to your incredulity. Thanks!


    How about bouild with 930 instead and some nice SSD?

    Also I'd rather a case with proper PSU bottom mount, like Cooler Master does.
    -7
  • Crashman
    rrrHow about bouild with 930 instead and some nice SSD?Also I'd rather a case with proper PSU bottom mount, like Cooler Master does.

    1.) The SSD is mentioned in the article. The problem is, it increases only synthetic test scores and the value analysis only uses "real world" benchmarks so it's basically a non-starter.
    2.) The i7-930 is nice, and would normally have been used if this build hadn't been designed as a direct alternative to the former six-core build. It will probably be used next time!
    3.) The Antec Three Hundred is "proper bottom mount", please check the photos!
    1
  • feeddagoat
    You should include boot times somewhere in performance measurments.
    7
  • cangelini
    feeddagoatYou should include boot times somewhere in performance measurments.


    Appreciate the feedback on this, guys. This is something we'll consider for the next SBM in the planning stages now!
    6
  • Crashman
    TheCapuletYou guys really need to get comfortable with the coolermaster cases. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811119233http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811119215http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811119228All three of these are far better values than the Antec you keep building in.

    I accidentally clicked the thumbs up icon on your message, and welcome the slamming of this comment as punishment. The case in this article was chosen for its excellent cooling-to-noise ratio, where the cases you picked are noisier and don't cool as well. It's all in the case reviews at this very site, really. None of the cases you picked even support dual front fans, and the original plan was to pair the dual front fans with graphics cards that vented externally.
    3
  • rembo666
    I agree with the previous comments. Why go for a 6-core CPU? Unless you have some very specific requirements, you'd be much better off going with a quad-core and spending the money on an SSD. I guess the whole point of this thing is to be the best "benchmark machine", not necessarily the best bang-for-the-buck in the real world usage.
    0