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Team Germany: CPU And Motherboard

The $750 Computing Challenge: Germany Versus USA

The German team chose to use an Intel quad-core processor to provide maximum performance. The model Q6600 may not be the latest, but it is still one of the most popular, especially because of its reasonable price. We found the Q6600 at prices below $200, while the more powerful and more efficient Core 2 Quad Q9300 starts at $230. While the entry-level quad core Q8200 can be obtained starting at $170, it does not provide the performance of a Q6600. While the US processor, the Core 2 Duo E8500, is rated at 65 W maximum power, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 is specified for up to 95 W. Watch for the correct S-SPEC number to be sure you get the 95 W version.

The 65 nm quad core offers a total of 8 MB L2 cache and runs at a 2.40 GHz clock speed on a FSB1066 bus. The Core 2 Quad Q8200 runs at 2.33 GHz on FSB1333, but only has 4 MB L2 cache total. The fully featured quad-core Q9300 runs 2.5 GHz on FSB1333 and comes with 6 MB L2 cache. As you will see in the benchmark section, the 2.40 GHz quad-core provides substantial performance benefits in applications that are optimized for multi-core processors, but it also requires substantially more power.

If you don’t care about power consumption, you can go ahead and overclock the 2.40 GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 to 3.0 GHz by simply raising the bus speed from FSB1066 to FSB1333 on any overclocking-friendly motherboard.

Motherboard: Asus P5QL-SE

While the US team went for a P45 motherboard by Gigabyte, Germany decided to use a P43 model by Asus. The P5QL-SE is an entry-level motherboard, but the differences between the P43 and the P45 are few: the P43 cannot run DDR3 memory faster than DDR3-1066 speeds, and it may not distribute its 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes across two physical x16 slots. Since we’re not out for a hardcore gaming machine, though, the choice is reasonable.

The Asus P5QL is a bit cheaper than the Gigabyte EP45-DS3L that our US team selected. Asus provides three classic PCI slots, while Gigabyte offers two. Asus utilizes the ICH10 southbridge with four SATA/300 ports; Gigabyte has six ports. Both offer an additional UltraATA/133 controller, HD audio and Gigabit networking. The Asus P5QL-SE has only two instead of four DIMM sockets, though. This is probably not an issue, as both systems are equipped with a pair of 2 GB DDR2 DIMMs, but you should keep this in mind.

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  • 9 Hide
    Proximon , February 25, 2009 5:34 AM
    But which system will still be working in a year with no replacements? Can we start a pool? :) 
  • 2 Hide
    dirtmountain , February 25, 2009 6:21 AM
    Did you notice the 18 amps on that generic power supply team Germany used also Proximan?
  • 3 Hide
    norrisb , February 25, 2009 7:34 AM
    Why no love for AMD?
  • 3 Hide
    falchard , February 25, 2009 8:56 AM
    Because the Phenom IIs weren't released when they started to build and test these systems. The Phenoms really aren't the best choice in processor.

    I think the comparison with a Phenom II 720 would have been interesting since it has an internal memory controller and could increase performance on productivity benchmarks. Where games aren't as much CPU dependant as GPU dependant. It could have shown a better value.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 11:22 AM
    The German team's case cooling holes and PSU are terrible, expect the system dead within 9 months.
  • 3 Hide
    deuce271 , February 25, 2009 11:47 AM
    Interesting to see the German team go with an unknown PSU like that. I understand sacrifice somewhere to get more power out of the CPU & GPU but the PSU is the last place I look to squeeze money out of.
  • 9 Hide
    Mr_Man , February 25, 2009 11:55 AM
    Something I've wondered about many Tom's builds: when money is the limiting factor, why continually use the e8500 instead of the e8400? It's $20 cheaper, sometimes more, and has a mere .16GHz difference. They're both the same stepping now, so I can't imagine the overclocking potential is ever much different.
  • 6 Hide
    jonpaul37 , February 25, 2009 12:06 PM
    +1^ Well Said, there is no real difference except the multiplier... i could see picking the 8500 if they were going to OC to the Max, but they didnt even hit 4.0!!! i can hit 4.0 on my E8400 with no Voltage increase on an AC Freezer Pro 7... what gives???
  • 2 Hide
    Obstruct44 , February 25, 2009 1:07 PM
    +1^ I agree, I use an e8400 on my system, with an Asrock p45xe mobo. I would like to see toms use that setup and then use two 4830's in CF. I bet the graphics would have spanked the 4870.
  • 3 Hide
    MonsterCookie , February 25, 2009 1:38 PM
    Quiet frankly, if one want to build a "cheap" system nowadays, than none of the configurations are good for that. I am from germany, so i probably should root more for those guys, but i cannot.

    It is not so hard to see, that the best system today would be something like:

    GigaByte EP45-DS3 INTEL P45
    C2 Duo 5200 and overclock it
    two 4850 cards in crossfire in it
    two 2G RAM modules
    some cheaper case
    a decent powersuply, and not that electric waste in the german build
    a cheap 250G HDD
    a cheap DVD RW

    Thats it. Ain't rocket science. For those who are not disturbed by the noise of a Sapphire 4850x2, they can get that even cheaper.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , February 25, 2009 2:01 PM
    Yeah, methinks someone on the German team was just messing around. Eighteen total amps on +12V for a 4870?
    Please let us know when you hear from the German site that it blew up; hopefully it won't burn down their office.
  • 1 Hide
    hardwarekid9756 , February 25, 2009 2:03 PM
    So, if you look at your own charts, the Q6600 and the Q8200 are within 1-2% of each other. reflects this as does Hardocp. The reduced system cache and mhz literally have no real-world impact on the performance of the chip, because it uses the 45nm process, which is something like 13%-28% more powerful per megahertz. The only gimping of the Q8200 is that it's not nearly as mature as the Q6600 in the overclocking field. the Q6600 has a tried and true method and rigor, whereas the Q8200 is the new kid on the block, and until the Q6600 is phased out, will have something of a darkhorse aura around it.
  • 9 Hide
    KyleSTL , February 25, 2009 2:09 PM
    WATTS/HOUR is not a unit. That would be J/(sec*hr), which doesn't make sense. The unit is WATT-HOURS (J), which is energy, NOT POWER. Sorry to complain, but the information is just wrong.
  • -2 Hide
    hardwarekid9756 , February 25, 2009 2:40 PM
    5€ that the next build is going to be an AMD system with a GeForce card. This is more a study of mindsets than performance. To be quite honest, I could give a flying about OC numbers. I'd prefer to see some MicroATX cheapo with an amped core, and a beefmaster GFX card. my system:

    MSI G31M3-L - 50$
    Intel Q9400 - 229$
    2x2GB G.Skill PC2-6400 - 39.99
    MSI R4870-T2D1G 4870 1GB - 219.99
    Samsung F1 1TB - 99.99
    Lite-on 22x Burner - 21.99
    Rosewill WindRyder Case - 29.99
    Sigma Shark 585W - 59.99

    Total: 750$, shipped.

    IMO, that's quite a build. I actually saw an open-box sigma for 10$ off, and a GFX for 20$ off. If it were me, I'd get that, and then use the extra money saved to get an open-box Gigabyte EP45-DS3.

    But, then again, can't use open-box items in SBMs.
  • 2 Hide
    Pei-chen , February 25, 2009 2:56 PM
    The Turks choice of PSU is really interesting. I am running the same Q6600 + 4870 1GB and max draw at plug is 293w with Antec HE 550. Paring this much power and heat with a feeble PSU and no ventilation case is how Turkish cars rank below Detroit’s in reliability.

    Every part should be in balance with each other. I’ll take a 4850 1GB + good case & PSU over a dead 4870 anyday.
  • 2 Hide
    mbbs20 , February 25, 2009 3:56 PM
    whats up with the lame 3 ghz oc on the q6600 by the german hits 3.4-3.6 ghz fairly regularly that i have seen??
  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , February 25, 2009 4:18 PM
    Pei-chen: what odd stereotype leads from Germans to Turks? Can't say I've seen that one before.

    As for the computer, the only problem should be the PSU. The case supports 4 fans + the PSU, I don't think it will have too much of a cooling problem.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , February 25, 2009 4:21 PM
    Of course, there was no mention of whether or not they added all 4 fans, so that could definately be a problem.
  • 5 Hide
    caamsa , February 25, 2009 4:29 PM
    Why not include 1280X1024 and 1400X900 resolutions. This is a budget build right?
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