System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

 $625 Gaming PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPU Intel Pentium E5200, 2.50 GHz, FSB-800, 2 MB Cache 3.9 GHz (11.5x 339 MHz), FSB-1356, 1.456V Core
CPU Cooler Xigmatek HDT-S963Unchanged
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L, Intel P45, BIOS F10 (11/10/2008) Unchanged
RAM 4.0 GB G.Skill HK 6400, 2x 2,048 MB, DDR2-800, CL 4-4-4-12 at 1.80 V DDR2-814 4-4-4-12 1.9 V
Graphics Sapphire 100259L Radeon HD 4870 512 MB, 750 MHz GPU, GDDR5 900 MHz 805 MHz GPU, GDDR5 925 MHz
Hard DrivesSamsung SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ, 500 GB, 72,000 RPM, 16 MB Cache Unchanged
Sound Integrated 8-Channel HD Audio Unchanged
Network Integrated Gigabit Networking Unchanged
Power PC Power&Cooling Silencer PPCS500 500 W Unchang
Optical Lite-On 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 Unchanged |
Software and Drivers
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit, SP1 Unchanged
Graphics Driver AMD Catalyst 8.12 Unchanged
Onboard Device Drivers Intel Unchanged

Benchmarks And Settings

3D Game Benchmarks and Settings
CrysisVersion: 1.2.1, Video Quality: Very High Details, Demo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom's Hardware Tool
Supreme Commander Forged Alliance Version: 1.5.3599, Video Quality: Highest Settings, Demo: WallaceTX_006_006, Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3 Version: 1.2, Sound and DirectX10, Texture Details: 5, Level Details: 5, Demo: vCTF-Reflection_bot,Time: 12/60
World in Conflict Version:, Video Quality: Very High details, Demo: Game-Benchmark
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
iTunesVersion:, Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min, Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007), Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, wave to MP3, 160kb/s
Video Benchmarks and Settings
TMPEG 4.5Version:, Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced multi-threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3 Display encoding status=off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1 MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbps), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom's Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Application Benchmarks and Settings
Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9 Version: 9.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version: 10.0x20070321, Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-Photo, Benchmar: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4, Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e, Accented Edges,  Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
Winrar 3.80 Version 3.70 BETA 8, WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3, Compression=Best, Dictionary=4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/MultiMedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • xx12amanxx
    Yeah Games are definatly more GPU bound than CPU bound at this time.But what about the user who decodes? Next month might be a good time to intro the new am3 triple core seeing as its being sodl for around 150$ and has been seen Oced up to 1ghz over stock.
  • Anonymous
    As I read this review I wonder, why this is only server I know that provides such a throughout testing and evaluation of OC benefit...
  • nerrawg
    Nice article guys, like how you seem squeeze the value out of the builds, definitely a good choice of build! My only question is one of personal interest, I wonder if disregarding the set price of $625, a crossfire set up of 2 4830s would give more bang for the buck in gaming then 1 4870? Of course as you have shown it would depend on the cpu, I was thinking around 4 Ghz on a dual core and 4 gigs ram. I am wondering because 2 x 4830 can be had for as little as $170-180 now, and thats pretty awesome.
  • nerrawg
    Looking at the "Radeon HD 4830: High-Speed, Cheap CrossFire" article the results look fairly similar to that seen from this build, with maybe some very small gains in Supreme commander and crysis, while World in Conflict appears to due better on this newer january build. However the 4830 CF was on a test bed without an OC'ed cpu and without overclocking the 4830's, hence my curiosity to know if doing this would significantly increase performance and value over the single 4870?
  • StupidRabbit
    great article as always.. but what happened to the international builder marathon?
  • jv_acabal
    $43 difference bang for the buck. How about in the long run? Sure you'll be paying more than 43 bucks for the electricity bill. I think January's build is better. It might be slower than this month's build but is still very playable at most games.
  • maxwellsmart_80
    Why do you keep building the same system (practically) over and over again?

    It would have been awesome to see a system based on the Phenom II X3 "700 Series" at this price point....especially paired w/ the ATI 4830 or 4850. Dont'cha think a 4870 is a tad much for a "$625 system?" - you would have had a "Dragon Platform" - very doable at your price range. You wouldn't have had to do DDR3 either - DDR2 would have worked quite nicely.
  • cangelini
    StupidRabbitgreat article as always.. but what happened to the international builder marathon?

    International competition is in edits--almost ready to go live! Interesting results there, too.
  • Onus
    Excellent article. I think this was a good build.
    That Rosewill case (and all their cheap ones like it) will take a front mounted 120mm fan. You had $6 left over, so it would have fit in your budget.
  • jcknouse
    THG Staff note:Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon...

    I hate being picky...but...

    The links aren't imbedded in those 4 article designations at the top of the article, as of the writing of this note.
  • jcknouse
    My bad...this negative to me...*this* month lol

  • cangelini
    jcknouseI hate being picky...but...The links aren't imbedded in those 4 article designations at the top of the article, as of the writing of this note.

    Because they haven't been published yet ;-)
  • Tedders
    I agree with some of the other posters. I would like to see the SBMs with the new Phenom II. Maybe even some of the new AM3 systems. From what I have read, it can be a little tricky to setup a new AM3 system with the correct processor, motherboard and memory configuration.
  • caamsa
    Ahhh yet another "Intell System Builder Marathon" please call it what it is.
  • Onus
    My present challenge is to come up with a $600 gaming build for a friend, AND the OS must be included in that price (so really a
  • Onus
    caamsaAhhh yet another "Intell System Builder Marathon" please call it what it is.

    Couldn't edit my comment; trying again... really a sub-$500 build). I was going to go AMD, but discovered that an Intel 5200 is actually going to be cheaper, unless I give up a lot of performance. So, Caamsa, I expect the SBM articles will continue to use Intel chips at this price point.
  • Tindytim
    jtt283My present challenge is to come up with a $600 gaming build for a friend, AND the OS must be included in that price (so really a

    Just cut $100 off for the OS, or go with Ubuntu.
  • allthatjazz
    I still don't see how you can call it a 'System Build' without factoring in the OS! Just call it a $725 build and throw Vista on there, or specify that you're doing an open OS.
  • billiardicus
    Nice Build. A few thoughts for anyone on a budget build:
    1. Don't buy a crappy case. A good case can be used over and over again. You'll upgrade the cpu, gpu, mobo, etc...but you can keep using a case. There's plenty of great $50 cases (Centurion CAC5, Antec 300, etc). Pony up another $25, and get a solid case.

    2. The same applies to the powersupply (Tom's picked a good one).
  • dirtmountain
    Another very good SBM article. Shows what a builder has to do to reach a budget in real life pricing by going with a cheaper case, HSF, CPU to get a higher performance GPU to fit in a build. Good addition with the power consumption charts, i'd have no problem running a quality 430w PSU with this build. I'm interested in seeing an AMD build, perhaps they'll be available for the Feb/Mar SBM articles. Good job and thanks for this great writeup.