System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC

Overclocking

Following component installation and a full battery of benchmarks, it was time to find out just how far our hand-picked system could be pushed.

As with motherboard, DRAM, and drive selection, we used knowledge gained from previous articles to make our BIOS settings easier. Because of its same-model processor, we were able to use the settings from our Phenom II X4 955 Overclocking Guide as a baseline, moving up from there as the better cooling of our system permitted.

A slight bump in voltage compared to our previous overclock allowed us to reach 3.91 GHz, compared to the earlier article’s 3.86 GHz. A difference of around 0.05 GHz would hardly be worth the expense of liquid cooling, and we further had to put all the fans on high to get here.

Those wondering why we didn’t simply choose 19.5 x 200 MHz, rather than 19 x 206 MHz, to reach 3.9 GHz must be warned that this MSI motherboard doesn’t have an actual 200 MHz setting. Instead, the board sets 201 MHz when 200 MHz is selected, taking the overclock to 3.92 GHz, and those few extra megahertz were enough to destabilize the system under long-duration stress testing. We’d rather suggest that readers go back to our original overclocking guide’s 3.80 GHz and 1.45V core for this particular build, since it noticeably reduces energy, heat, and noise.

Our Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS 9 supported the same relatively-tight timings at DDR3-1648 on this AMD platform as it had at DDR3-1600 in its original Core i7-based test. Notions about AMD requiring different memory to yield similar results can rightly be dismissed.

Almost as impressive as the CPU and memory overclock are the GPU and graphics RAM speeds. The video card we chose was pre-packaged at an overclocked 880 MHz GPU and GDDR5-3996 (up from the reference spec 850 MHz/GDDR5-3800), and we pushed it to 930 MHz GPU and GDDR5-4600. As impressive as these numbers might sound, they’re not big percentage-wise and we’d be happy to see them return at a 10% performance improvement.

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    Top Comments
  • Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
    18
  • now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
    18
  • Me too this is an awesome build.
    8
  • ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
    0
  • The Quality of video on ATI streem is shit on sticks and doesn't even support high profile.

    The last build was a bit too odd for me but this one seems like a very nice chose of parts and on a larger screen set up makes a lot of sense the loss of i7 for AMD only build was a bit sad but the addition of those great SSD kind of makes up for me along with the nice chose of case and cooling. That case looks like it is very nice to work on.
    -7
  • The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
    -4
  • @Dirtman

    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_detail.aspx?id=25&type=2

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
    1
  • Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
    -9
  • http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
    0
  • So does Jonnyguru
    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story2&reid=153
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
    0
  • now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.
    10
  • dirtmountainhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139011Newegg says differently. I did check sources.

    You going to believe newegg a site that is known to make mistakes in labeling products over the actual official site of the group that freaking does the testing and certification
    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_detail.aspx?id=25&type=2

    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_reports/CORSAIR_CMPSU-850HX_ECOS%201464_850W_Report.pdf

    It's gold...
    0
  • The overclock was disappointing, but it seems to be one capable system!

    Anyone who wins this has an awesome rig on their hands!
    2
  • I'm sure anyone that wins any of the rigs will be quite happy and hopefully happy enough to post pictures and other things on the forums.
    1
  • Your PSU calculations do not include transient loads, which happen too quickly to measure on a Kill-a-watt. 1000HX was the better choice.

    Either water cool the GPUs or use a case with better air flow. Perhaps 90C is within spec (although I'm not aware of any published official max temps for 4890s)but it doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

    What's with the limited choice for a case anyway? You seem to want to experiment? CM Storm Scout has handles, or Lian Li Lancool has great air cooling and radiator hose grommets.

    I did like the inclusion of the Swiftech kit.
    2
  • Corsair says it's Silver

    http://www.corsair.com/products/hx850/default.aspx

    So...I guess it's really Gold?

    (sarcasm)
    0
  • I only fear what a QuadFire 5870 would bring if a tri 4890s does this much damage. Thanks for doing AMD it may not be the best CPU but its always nice to see a change.
    3
  • dirtmountainSo does Jonnyguruhttp://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.p [...] 2&reid=153I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.


    80 plus is an independant rating site, the 850HX was upgraded to Gold status so unless you're using an old unit you should be fine.

    ProximonWhat's with the limited choice for a case anyway? You seem to want to experiment? CM Storm Scout has handles, or Lian Li Lancool has great air cooling and radiator hose grommets.I did like the inclusion of the Swiftech kit.


    This editor never uses external radiators because they're too easily damaged, ugly, and make transportation difficult. The only choice not mentioned was the HAF932: There's one in the lab, it's enormous and cheaply built.

    Also, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the ventilation of the case used. It's remarkable. It's darned near perfect. The GPU's run hot for two reasons: HD 4890's are horribly inefficient and there's not much space between them.

    The other option would have been to face the PSU fan towards the cards so it could draw warm air away from them.
    4
  • this thing is truely alswome anyway you slice it. eye candy galore, and im sure anyone who won this thing would be more then happy. and what makes this beast realy shine is how much performance it gets not only in gaming but alswome productivity/ap[plication scores as well. all the way around it is alswome. also very interesting to see AMD parts stacking up like this in a high end gaming. very interesting.
    0
  • "Happy birthday", "Happy Halloween", "Merry Christmas", and "Happy New Year" to the lucky one who would get his hands on this one.
    2
  • Wow...
    I would take this over your last $2,500 Intel system no doubt!
    This thing is a work of art.

    Excellent work.
    Wait wait wait... why would I want a phenom when i have a i7? I don't know, but this system is that cool.

    I love the case used on it too. Tri-4890, 2x80GB SSD etc. even on a 2.5k budget is admirable.
    Making me wonder were all the money on my build went...

    Also nice to see a cheap motherboard being promoted. I paid over $300 for my mobo, and I regret it (good overclocking mobo... crappy overclocker cpu). >_<


    Keep up the good work.
    1