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System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build
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We wanted to include 2560x1600 benchmarks in this comparison so that we could emphasize the more powerful graphics processors of our previous $2000 build. Doing so precludes the System Builder Marathon’s $400 build however, since it wasn’t tested at this super-high resolution.

Test Hardware Configurations
 New/Alternative $2000 PCOriginal $2000 PCOriginal $1000 PC
Motherboard
(Overclock)
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
Intel X58 Express, ICH10R
O/C to 188 MHz BCLK
MSI NF980-G65
Nvidia nForce 980a SLI
O/C to 288 MHz Ref. Clk.
Asus P7P55D-E LX
Chipset: Intel P55 Express
O/C to 178 MHz BCLK
Processor
(Overclock)
Intel Core i7-970
3.2 GHz, Six Physical Cores
O/C to to 4.0 GHz, 1.30V
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
2.8 GHz, Six Cores
O/C to 4.0 GHz at 1.43 V
Intel Core i5-750
2.66 GHz, Four Cores
O/C to 3.75 GHz at 1.36 V
Memory
(Overclock)
6 GB Mushkin DDR3-1333
CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.60 V
to DDR3-1400, CL 8-8-8-24
8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333
CL 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V
to DDR3-1533, CL 7-7-6-20
4 GB Crucial DDR3-1333
CL 9-9-9-24, U/C at 1.50 V
to DDR3-1070, CL 8-8-8-22
Graphics
(Overclock)
2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 460
763 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3800
O/C to 845MHz, GDDR5-4200
2 x MSI GeForce GTX 480
700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3696
O/C to 816 MHz, GDDR5-4132
MSI GeForce GTX 470
607 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3348
O/C to 690 MHz, GDDR5-3380
Hard DriveSamsung F3 HD103SJ
1 TB, 7200 RPM
32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s 
Samsung F3 HD103SJ
1 TB, 7200 RPM
32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital WD36401AALS
640 GB, 7200 RPM
32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHAS124
24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
Lite-On iHAS124
24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
Lite-On iHAS124
24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionSilverStone Raven RV02-BWAntec Three Hundred
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT
850 W, 80 PLUS Silver
Cooler Master Silent Pro
RSA00-AMBAJ3-US 1000 W
Modular, 80 PLUS Bronze
Corsair CMPSU-650TX
650 W, 80 PLUS Standard
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B
(SCMG-2100)
Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B
(SCMG-2100)
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
(RR-910-HTX3-G1)
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
raphicsNvidia Forceware 258.96Nvidia Forceware 258.96Nvidia Forceware 258.96
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.2.1007Nvidia MCP 8.15.11.9038Intel INF 9.1.2.1007


The $1000 build that so badly disgraced our previous $2000 PC was kept around for today’s roundup, with hopes that the inclusion of high-resolution gaming tests might boost the expensive system’s value score.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64
Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes
Default format AAC
HandBrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8
Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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