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More Powerful Storage At The Same Budget

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $1000 Enthusiast PC

The results turn out to be pretty close, though we did notice a few interesting things.

Starting with application performance, despite the identical CPU clock rates, our June machine averages a couple of percentage points higher at stock speeds. This is probably due to the lower memory bandwidth we saw manifest in the Sandra synthetic benchmark.

Our new machine leaps ahead when it gets overclocked, and this probably has something to do with the increase in memory bandwidth when using the XMP memory profile. Though we know this architecture isn't particularly starved for throughput, the higher data rates and lower latencies are a potent pair.

The gaming results are also mixed. They're easier to explain, though. Two Radeon HD 6850s are a bit faster than a couple GeForce GTX 460s at stock speeds. Nvidia's cards have more overclocking headroom, though. This accounts for the increased performance when tweaked.

The moral of this story is that the SSD is here to stay. Yes, you can afford solid-state storage on a thousand-dollar budget. When you’re putting a system together, you simply can't ignore the SSD. Despite very similar application benchmarks, you really see the benefit when it comes to launching software, and PCMark 7 does a fair job of demonstrating that.

In addition, we learned that GeForce GTX 460s in SLI and Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire have similar overall performance. This is nothing new, but it’s good to put our own recommendations to the test every once in a while.

Now all we can do is wait for the last day of this System Builder Marathon, where we see how the three competing systems size up to each other. We're curious to see how the SSD affects the $1000 PC’s ability to compete with the pricer configuration in PCMark. Stay tuned!

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