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

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

AMD’s modernized GPU has thus-far provided a marginal performance lead over Nvidia’s older part, but power consumption is where it really stands out.

Our overclocked alternative PC reduces full-load power consumption by over 200 W, and we can only credit its lower CPU overclock for 68 W of that reduction.

Heat numbers are a little more deceptive, since the alternative system’s higher GPU temperature happened within the range of its automatic fan controls.

Efficiency is a comparison of energy to work, so it’s good to see the lower-energy alternative PC also producing slightly better performance at stock clocks.

Dividing the performance difference by the power difference proves our theory, with the alternative PC leading the original by 26%. Both builds lost efficiency when overclocked due to the relatively high CPU core voltage required to push the higher frequency settings.

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  • Can't Wait untill Bulldozer and Sandy Brodge Editions come out. I know it sounds cliche but...
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  • This is probably the best way of spending 2000$ for a PC.
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  • Performance / watt of this build is really impressive.
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  • A price table for the new build would be nice too, so i can see how much would it cost when i remove the BD and Case.
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  • Tamz_mscThis is probably the best way of spending 2000$ for a PC.

    I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.
    -6
  • gti88I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.

    You forgot weaker ;)
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  • Decent review but it seems that in nvidia setups, even the same CPUs can somehow overclock better. And the speed of RAM has negligible or no effect on overall system performance so no point tuning that component.
    -3
  • "Familiarity in overclocking and a third PCIe x16 graphics card slot that operates in x8 mode when occupied are two reasons why we chose the X58A-UD3R over the similarly-priced Asus Sabertooth X58."

    Ok, fine. Wouldn't hurt to familiarize anew with a better board and that 3rd slot wasn't used anyways. Megahalems over Noctua? Seasonic over Corsair AX? :(

    Or was it last minute budget cuts to make it less than $2000?
    -2
  • scrumworksDecent review but it seems that in nvidia setups, even the same CPUs can somehow overclock better. And the speed of RAM has negligible or no effect on overall system performance so no point tuning that component.


    What do you mean, this was the same model processor but not the same one. They got a new one for this build - so how does that show that the graphics have anything to do with the overclock? If anything it says exactly what is stated in the article, that the overclockability of the i7 950 varies between each sample quite a margin.

    NVidia or for that matter AMD graphics have no effect on the CPU overclock.
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  • How does a Core i5 @~4.3Ghz or a Phenom II X6 @~4Ghz stack up against the Core i7? Well, that's using the same other components, 'cept RAM and MoBo :P

    I'd like to know that.

    Cheers!
    1
  • I would like to see an E5620 $2000 build. I suggest cutting 2 SSD to get this beast under $2000. Should win the gaming and CPU tests with no problem.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117234

    The ASUS Rampage III I understand works well with this server CPU.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131666

    Due to the low multiplier on the E5620 we will need some highly OCing RAM. Would like have used the 2000 patriot but it breaks the budget.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104118

    Three AMD 6950's and it would be great to have a small scaling test. I would like to see what benefit the third card adds. I choose this GPU because many reviews say its the best FPS for the dollar.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102914

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

    ASUS black DVD burner.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204

    An Antec Three Hundred Illusion case.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

    Antec CP-850 850W. The PSU has only 4 PCI-E but the Sapphire's come with a 6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable and
    a 8-PIN to 4 PIN x2 Power Cable.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371024

    H&S Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835242001&Tpk=Prolimatech%20Megahalems%20Rev.B

    Build total $2000


    If you want to try for 4.8GHz change the CPU to an E5630, 2 X 6970's, and get the patriot 2000 RAM for a $2000 build.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220500
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  • @ Luay: "Ok, fine. Wouldn't hurt to familiarize anew with a better board and that 3rd slot wasn't used anyways. Megahalems over Noctua? Seasonic over Corsair AX? :("

    "better board"--clearly your opinion. That Gigabyte board is an excellent board.
    Megahalems: They liked the cooling performance of it with the 4.35MHz i7-950 and saw no reason to change. And it is to laugh at your "Seasonic over Corsair AX"--guess who builds the Corsair AX?
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  • nerrawgWhat do you mean, this was the same model processor but not the same one. They got a new one for this build - so how does that show that the graphics have anything to do with the overclock? If anything it says exactly what is stated in the article, that the overclockability of the i7 950 varies between each sample quite a margin.NVidia or for that matter AMD graphics have no effect on the CPU overclock.


    This debate is easily enough resolved; pop the processor out of the original build and swap it into this build. See if it will overclock to the same degree in this configuration as it did the 1st. I'd like to know!
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  • YukaHow does a Core i5 @~4.3Ghz or a Phenom II X6 @~4Ghz stack up against the Core i7? Well, that's using the same other components, 'cept RAM and MoBo I'd like to know that.Cheers!


    Look at the june builds. The $2000PC there used a Phenom II X6 1055 and sorely disappointed.
    0
  • I've never been a CF {Crossfire} fan, and this build is just another illustration of SLI vs CF. As far as Delta - they offer excellent CFM BUT are EXTREMELY loud @ 46.5 dBA / 3400 RPM - therefore they MUST be run on a fan controller. Anything above >30 dBA is loud and annoying.
    CM R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 -> {76.8 CFM} 32 dBA / 2000 RPM
    Delta AFC1212D-PWM -> {113.11 CFM} 46.5 dBA / 3400 RPM

    Next, I also not a big fan of transverse mounted cases; thermal dynamically 'I get it' but the design pulls the more dusty ground air and the space is often cramped which defeats any advantages.

    I absolutely loath the GA-X58A-UD3R MOBO, and instead would have opted for either EVGA or ASUS. Example ASUS P6X58D-E.
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  • articleSoft blue lighting accents both the front and the top fan, appearing bright only in contrast to the case’s black finish.


    The lighting of the case fans is white as stated on corsair's web site
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  • gti88I don't think so, considering that cheaper and less power-hungry Sandy Bridge is coming.


    sandy bridge is a mainstream processor. Intel made it clear that their flagship will remain to be the i7 900 series. This makes sense as AMD still couldn't beat intel in raw performance.
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  • nice build, i actually agree with using a new processor and hsowing how it can overclock to. it shows real world performance and how you shouldn't bank on your parts being able to do much mroe beyond stock. overclocking is a bonus, i myself do it, but if i buy a part and it operates at stock speeds fine well... to be fair that is really what i paid for so while it may impact me buying that companies products down the road i can't rma or complain much
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  • SB is a mainstream processor? Lol! Again, the i7 2600K will beat all the i7 900 CPUs except the $1000 6 core ones. So the i7 2600K will be faster than the i7 950 and below CPUs. Remember that it has 3.4 GHz quad core HT and the i7 950 only has 3.0 GHz stock clock. That in itself will make SB faster plus it should be around %10 faster clock per clock against nehalem.
    -2
  • Any reason why Tom's Hardware doesn't make a public wishlist on newegg.com with each build and link it off the story? It'd benefit your sponsor as well as your readers interested in duplicating your efforts.
    3