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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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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    tacoslave , September 30, 2010 6:28 AM
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 9:31 AM
    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?
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , September 30, 2010 9:35 AM
    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
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    Randomacts , September 30, 2010 6:20 AM
    Yay more giveaways!
  • 16 Hide
    tacoslave , September 30, 2010 6:28 AM
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
  • 2 Hide
    duk3 , September 30, 2010 6:31 AM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 7:10 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    cojj , September 30, 2010 7:14 AM
    how do I enter for the giveaway?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 7:40 AM
    cojjhow do I enter for the giveaway?

    Click the link in the announcement?
  • 2 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 30, 2010 8:00 AM
    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 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 8:33 AM
    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.
  • -7 Hide
    brisingamen , September 30, 2010 9:02 AM
    i prefer the six core gtx 480 sli rig.
  • 2 Hide
    eyefinity , September 30, 2010 9:21 AM
    Who wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 9:31 AM
    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?
  • 11 Hide
    cangelini , September 30, 2010 9:35 AM
    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
  • 3 Hide
    stm1185 , September 30, 2010 9:36 AM
    eyefinityWho wouldn't go with Eyefinity or Nvidia surround with $2k?


    Someone not wanting to spend an extra $1000 on monitors.
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , September 30, 2010 9:41 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 9:50 AM
    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!
  • 7 Hide
    feeddagoat , September 30, 2010 10:41 AM
    You should include boot times somewhere in performance measurments.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , September 30, 2010 11:07 AM
    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!
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , September 30, 2010 12:19 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    rembo666 , September 30, 2010 12:50 PM
    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.
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