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System Assembly And Over-Clocking

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $1000 Enthusiast PC
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We ran into two issues as we were putting this system together.

First, the motherboard’s rear I/O panel cover doesn't line up with the USB and PS/2 ports on the far left. We’re not sure why. It seems like the holes aren't placed perfectly, and we suspect the recess on the Logisys Optimus II case isn’t square with the motherboard. Whatever the cause, we had to install our motherboard without its panel in place (irritating for the perfectionists on our crew).

Secondly, we had a problem fitting the huge Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC into our case. It can be made to fit, and it does work. But the very end of the cooler's shroud pushes against the chassis, and we’re not comfortable with that. If you plan to buy this extra-long and extra-wide graphics card, take some measurements first to make sure it fits inside the chassis of your choice.

Overclocking

In our last mid-range build, we were unable to force the Core i5-2400’s maximum 38x multiplier due to BIOS limitations. Gigabyte's P67X-UD3 doesn’t suffer from those same constraints, though it turns out that the difference is mostly theoretical.

We were able to set a 38x ratio. However, it's only used in single-threaded workloads. In fact, we found it very rare for our build to run at 3.8 GHz at all, even when Prime95 was set to push a single core. It instead bounced between 3.6 and 3.8 GHz. We turned off CPU thermal monitoring in the BIOS and increased the Turbo Boost power limit to 200 W, but those changes yielded very little benefit. The only way to get 3.8 GHz reliably was to set processor affinity to a single core in Windows' task manager. Applications optimized for two or three threads tended to run at 3.7 GHz, and any software able to exploit all four cores ran at 3.6 GHz.

Because our application suite is heavily threaded, we expect to see very little difference between the new results and the ones from the previous build, although we're still hoping that the additional memory bandwidth attributable to a second channel will help in some instances. Then again, losing the SSD probably won't help this quarter's build.

Sapphire’s Radeon HD 7970 OC proves to be fairly tunable, although the newest version of the company’s Trixx overclocking utility has some problems. We ended up with a maximum core overclock of 1125 MHz and a memory frequency of 1650 MHz, achieved with a 1.2 V setting in MSI's excellent Afterburner tool.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    ddan49 , June 6, 2012 4:26 AM
    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...
  • 23 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 6, 2012 4:48 AM
    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.
  • 16 Hide
    koshadows , June 6, 2012 5:27 AM
    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!
Other Comments
  • 25 Hide
    ddan49 , June 6, 2012 4:26 AM
    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...
  • -2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 6, 2012 4:47 AM
    i'd put an SSD in any system i build. Its so much better than a HDD.

  • 23 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 6, 2012 4:48 AM
    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.
  • 7 Hide
    mousseng , June 6, 2012 4:53 AM
    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.
  • -4 Hide
    ojas , June 6, 2012 4:54 AM
    Why not use the HAF 912? Wouldn't have had a problem with the 7970.
  • 16 Hide
    koshadows , June 6, 2012 5:27 AM
    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!
  • 1 Hide
    benikens , June 6, 2012 5:48 AM
    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.
  • 6 Hide
    bardacuda , June 6, 2012 6:03 AM
    AAHAHAHAHA!! That picture of the 7970 all tweaked and jammed into the case is just too funny! :D  Quite the slant on the cooler!
  • -1 Hide
    amuffin , June 6, 2012 7:12 AM
    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 Hide
    cobra5000 , June 6, 2012 7:14 AM
    ddan49May want to put "do" in there, instead

    Are you really that stupid?
  • 2 Hide
    Darkerson , June 6, 2012 7:16 AM
    Could have been worse, I suppose.
  • -2 Hide
    strandiam , June 6, 2012 7:28 AM
    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.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 6, 2012 8:33 AM
    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?
  • 0 Hide
    xtreme5 , June 6, 2012 8:49 AM
    not bad!
  • 2 Hide
    sirencall , June 6, 2012 9:24 AM
    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.
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