System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $1000 Enthusiast PC

Core i5 And Radeon HD 7970 For $1000

With all of the individual tests out of the way, we combine our results into average gaming and application performance results.

Knowing that these two PCs sport the same CPU and graphics processor, our results aren't particularly surprising. Then again, when you take into account that this quarter's system is priced $250 less, comes armed with 2 GB less memory, and doesn't include an SSD, we get a sense for this machine's reasonable balance.

Of course, we know that an SSD doesn't reflect well in our benchmark suite, despite the faster boot-up, quicker application loading, and overall improved responsiveness it offers. You'll just have to keep those endearing qualities in mind when you decide where to budget for your next machine.

As for the extra memory last quarter's machine feature, it does provide peace of mind, and it can come into play when you're using many applications concurrently. But, in general, 4 GB still gets the job done. As for our second memory channel, it didn't make much of a difference, either. Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture just doesn't seem all that bandwidth-starved, even when it's hobbled by a bad motherboard running in single-channel mode.

At the end of the day, Intel's Core i5-2400 remains a solid performer at its stock settings, though its locked clock multiplier makes it a bit of a challenge for overclocking. We really only picked it in order to stay under our budget, though. So don't feel guilty about splurging on a Core i5-2500K (or even an Ivy Bridge-based Core i5-3570K). We would have done the same, more than likely, given a little extra room for spending. Without question, we're done with this experiment, and we'll be aiming for a more potent processor in next quarter's effort.

And how about that Sapphire HD 7970 OC? Although it was priced well within the bounds of affordability a month ago, a recent shot up to $580 on Newegg pretty much takes it out of contention in today's build. As a result, we're happy to point you in the direction of Sapphire's non-overclocked Radeon HD 7970, which costs a little bit less.

Then again, if you're spending big money on graphics, we have a hard time ignoring the GeForce GTX 670 at $400 (though many models are creeping up higher). Were we to do this build over again today, it'd probably have a GK104-based card in it instead. If prices stay where they are today, you can count on us using the savings from a GeForce GTX 670 for a faster CPU or maybe an SSD next time around.

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  • I personally think they went a little TOO overboard on the GPU. Sure, it'll tear through games... but at 4GB of RAM, a non-overclockable i5 CPU, and a P67 motherboard... well... meh...
    25
  • not criticizing, but this build looks like a half-hearted attempt.
    Basically the whole article tests the improvements of a single channel over a dual channel RAM.
    23
  • I'm not quite sure how I should respond to both of the system builders comment section from this week. Gtx 670 wasn't available, we know. Stop beating this dead horse. Its just like last quarter's waterfall of "why no 680????"

    As of right now at the time of this post, the sapphire 7970 o/c on newegg is at $480. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102982 So i can only assume whatever price hike has been dealt with?

    Good job on making a computer perform about the same for $250 less! I'm sure if I was to build a computer right now this would give quite a bit of breathing room. Not everyone has quarter of a grand to throw around.

    Downside is it does feel like you guys ran outta ideas on new combinations. I think I'd be kind of interested in either a SLI config 560 ti or 7850s. But the 7850 would've pushed it past budget I think. I'd still vote on the SSD though!
    16
  • Other Comments
  • This PC is awesome.
    -13
  • I personally think they went a little TOO overboard on the GPU. Sure, it'll tear through games... but at 4GB of RAM, a non-overclockable i5 CPU, and a P67 motherboard... well... meh...
    25
  • Should have waited for the 670
    -11
  • Quote:
    We have two very similar systems here, and the new one has to make due with 4 GB less RAM, no SSD, and no aftermarket CPU cooler.


    May want to put "do" in there, instead ;)
    -12
  • i'd put an SSD in any system i build. Its so much better than a HDD.
    -2
  • not criticizing, but this build looks like a half-hearted attempt.
    Basically the whole article tests the improvements of a single channel over a dual channel RAM.
    23
  • I realize the SBM is sponsored by Newegg, so that means they're only able to get what they can from Newegg?

    Because if not, I would posit that the i5-2380p is a better CPU choice than the i5-2400:
    1) You've not got a huge need for the IGP, what with the 7970 (I could see it could still have use, but I don't think it would be that helpful)
    2) From what I've read on Newegg's page for the 2380p (which they no longer sell), the 2380p is a great overclocker (up to 4.5Ghz according to one reviewer)
    3) It costs the same as the 2400, with the same stock clocks

    Apart from that, I think it's a pretty solid build. A little too much corner-cutting compared to what I would've chosen, but I'd probably put together something rather standard and boring.
    7
  • Why not use the HAF 912? Wouldn't have had a problem with the 7970.
    -4
  • mayankleoboy1not criticizing, but this build looks like a half-hearted attempt. Basically the whole article tests the improvements of a single channel over a dual channel RAM.


    Yeah I totally agree, I would have loved to see a 3570k and a gtx 670 because those two seem like the popular choice right now. Who sets this budget anyways? "We didn't wan't to go over" umm is there like a slow painful death if you go over the budget or what? Set the budget higher then. Hope the next round of these is better.
    -11
  • I'm not quite sure how I should respond to both of the system builders comment section from this week. Gtx 670 wasn't available, we know. Stop beating this dead horse. Its just like last quarter's waterfall of "why no 680????"

    As of right now at the time of this post, the sapphire 7970 o/c on newegg is at $480. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102982 So i can only assume whatever price hike has been dealt with?

    Good job on making a computer perform about the same for $250 less! I'm sure if I was to build a computer right now this would give quite a bit of breathing room. Not everyone has quarter of a grand to throw around.

    Downside is it does feel like you guys ran outta ideas on new combinations. I think I'd be kind of interested in either a SLI config 560 ti or 7850s. But the 7850 would've pushed it past budget I think. I'd still vote on the SSD though!
    16
  • Not sure if mentioned, But personally I would've gone with a newer chipset mobo even if your using a sandy-bridge cpu, if you compare features what you get with a h77 motherboard for like $80 is very compelling, intergrated USB 3.0 means you get this at much cheaper prices then before. And you don't need an overclocking chipset if your not buying a k processor. That and even on a board with 16x4x Pcie layout, 4x PCIe 3.0 = 8xPCIe 2.0 which means you can go for lower end mobo and still have viable SLI/Crossfire options (if you use a Ivy-bridge CPU).

    I get that this was an attempt to recover from last quarters ram debacle, but essentially you chose an overpriced GPU, and overpriced and outdated motherboard and a last-gen CPU? It's just not a balanced build, far to much budget wasted on that GPU and I don't know anyone these days spending a thousand bucks and not picking up an SSD, agility 3 60gb drive's are perfect for entry level boot drive and you can find the thing for around ~$70 which could've easily been saved by a more appropriate choice of parts.
    1
  • AAHAHAHAHA!! That picture of the 7970 all tweaked and jammed into the case is just too funny! :D Quite the slant on the cooler!
    6
  • This system is not balanced.
    The point of a GOOD pc, is to have total system balance. Balance, as in the cpu,gpu, etc. are all in the same performance range. In this case, it really isn't balanced.
    -1
  • ddan49May want to put "do" in there, instead

    Are you really that stupid?
    1
  • Could have been worse, I suppose.
    2
  • amuffinThis system is not balanced.The point of a GOOD pc, is to have total system balance. Balance, as in the cpu,gpu, etc. are all in the same performance range. In this case, it really isn't balanced.


    Yeah. This looks like a PC built by someone who only wants maximum fps in Battlefield 3 and wasn't concerned about anything else. It will do but I would change pretty much every part if it were my real money.
    -2
  • 4GB of RAM? You can have +4GB for +$20.

    i5 2400? You can have the 2500K for +$20.

    AMD 7970? Well whoever wins this thing will certainly be lucky, but it is half the cost. This card could have been reduced to one that is lower-end, distributing the cost to the aforementioned RAM and CPU, with a better case and a modular power supply from SeaSonic (there is one which can power this machine for about $60 currently).

    I agree with those who think this combination was simply whipped together. A 7870 can max out a $250 monitor, for example. Why do you need such a high-end card for this?
    3
  • not bad!
    0
  • i would get a i5-3750k with a gtx 670 with 8gb ram. and this build doesn't have a z77 mobo.
    -10
  • I got a z68 gigabyte board from newegg for about 90 bucks, with the ssd slot thingy (I know, I forgot the name of the port) I would think that would have been a better pick since it is better for overclocking....also cheaper so you could have gotten a 2500K, like I did lol. My whole build costed me about 450 plus and I have 8 gigs of ram @1866. If I went with cheaper case you probably could have still squeezed in that 7970 comfortably.
    2