System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $3,000 Extreme PC

Test Settings

$3,000 Performance PC Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardGigabyte GA-X58A-UD7
Chipset: Intel X58-Express
 Unchanged 
ProcessorIntel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz
Four Cores, 8MB L3 Cache
 4.3 GHz at 1.36V, 205 MHz Base Clock 
MemoryCrucial 6.0GB DDR3-1333 Triple-Channel Kit
3x 2GB (6GB Total), CAS 9-9-9-28
 DDR3-1640 at 1.64V,
CAS 8-8-8-18 
GraphicsPowerColor LCS AX5970
2GB GDDR5-4200; Radeon HD 5970 Dual GPUs at 750 MHz
 GDDR5-4880
980 MHz GPU x2 
System
Hard Drives
2x Crucial CT64M225 SSD (RAID 0)
64GB x2 (128GB Total), SATA 3.0 Gb/s
 Unchanged 
OpticalLite-On DH-4B1S-08 SATA Blu-ray Burner
4X BD-R, 2X BD-RE, 12X DVD±R, 4X BD-ROM
 Unchanged 
CaseCooler Master Cosmos-S RC-1100-KKN1-GP Unchanged 
PowerSilverStone ST1000-P 1,000W Modular
ATX12V 2.2, EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus Silver
 Unchanged 
CPU CoolerSwiftech H20-220 Ultima XT Liquid Kit
2x 120mm Radiator
 Unchanged 
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsATI Catalyst 10.2
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1020
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Dirt 2 DemoIn-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Handbrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1.0GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPEGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8
Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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134 comments
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    Top Comments
  • Crashman
    zoemayneMore than 64GB is gonna be needed for multiple games and good apps... those ssd's can only handle 5 games max.


    You're repeatedly ignoring that it's 128GB, not 64GB, because the article repeatedly states that the drives are striped (Level 0) by the RAID controller. And there's a terabyte of added storage on top of that for stuff that isn't programs.
    25
  • sid1712
    I couldn't have made it better. Amazing rig for a 3k budget.
    13
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Nice as it is, my only complaint is that...
    Overclocked 5970 + i7 on a single 120.2?
    ARE YOU MAD!


    Well, the explanation is in the conclusion, the builder wanted redundant storage instead of the big radiator but chose neither, leaving enough room in the budget for anyone who wanted to copy the build to make their own upgrade choice.

    But what's not in the budget is that the water was never hot, it was barely warm. The problem with running the CPU at 100% load and the GPU at 100% load is that the water temperature went up by around 10 degrees...we're talking about going from the 30's to the 40's here at full load. The article points to the GPU cooler as a likely flow restriction so I have three solutions:

    Solution 1: Add 1/2" by 3/8" adapter T's and cool the chipset block, parallel to the GPU block. That would allow some of the water to bypass the GPU cooler, which is OK since the GPU was always cold. But 1/2" by 3/8" T's are hard to find outside of a hardware store, and Newegg certainly doesn't have them.

    Solution 2: Switch to a 3-fan radiator. A 4-fan unit won't fit nicely into that case, and making an ugly system wasn't considered a solution.

    Solution 3: Add a second liquid-cooled 5970 parallel to the first. Get twice the GPU power and completely unblock the lines in the process. The GPUs would run slightly hotter when each gets only half the water, but at least the CPU block's flow won't be restricted. And...since it's probably adding another 10 degrees to the coolant...stick the three-fan radiator in there as well. For FOUR grand you could have a KILLER system!

    OK, so solution 1 is the cheapest, but you have to admit solution 3 is tempting...
    12
  • Other Comments
  • zoemayne
    More than 64GB is gonna be needed for multiple games and good apps... those ssd's can only handle 5 games max.
    -30
  • zoemayne
    the case is sick it just needs a black interior
    -16
  • Crashman
    zoemayneMore than 64GB is gonna be needed for multiple games and good apps... those ssd's can only handle 5 games max.


    You're repeatedly ignoring that it's 128GB, not 64GB, because the article repeatedly states that the drives are striped (Level 0) by the RAID controller. And there's a terabyte of added storage on top of that for stuff that isn't programs.
    25
  • sid1712
    I couldn't have made it better. Amazing rig for a 3k budget.
    13
  • Onyx2291
    Nice fail there Zoe.

    This thing is a beast.
    6
  • anamaniac
    Nice as it is, my only complaint is that...
    Overclocked 5970 + i7 on a single 120.2?
    ARE YOU MAD!
    Likely.

    Well, I personally would have dropped something else and gone for a 120.3 or 140.3 radiator. =D
    Hell, maybe even a 140.4 radiator, but then again, I like my system to run chilly and silent. It's also be very difficult to mount a 140.4 I assume. Maybe I could jack a radiator form work, I think it's about 1 metre by 3 metres by half a metre. Granted, it's for industrial use, but just for one day, please boss please?

    Good results on the i7 though. Decently low voltage and still managed to reach 4.3GHz. My i7 is a lemon. It makes me sad. =(
    Also an impressive overclock for a 5970.

    At this kind of power, you should be testing multi monitor resolutions. I have a 5770 and I run 7 megapixels, you use a 5970 and only run 4 megapixels.

    Looking forward tho the $1,500 build. See how my build compares to one six months older on a similar budget (and cry).
    4
  • tacoslave
    i cried when i saw that 5970. in action
    -13
  • tacoslave
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9l-XQzdRGg&feature=related this is what happened when i saw that 5970 in action "I CAME"
    -19
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Nice as it is, my only complaint is that...
    Overclocked 5970 + i7 on a single 120.2?
    ARE YOU MAD!


    Well, the explanation is in the conclusion, the builder wanted redundant storage instead of the big radiator but chose neither, leaving enough room in the budget for anyone who wanted to copy the build to make their own upgrade choice.

    But what's not in the budget is that the water was never hot, it was barely warm. The problem with running the CPU at 100% load and the GPU at 100% load is that the water temperature went up by around 10 degrees...we're talking about going from the 30's to the 40's here at full load. The article points to the GPU cooler as a likely flow restriction so I have three solutions:

    Solution 1: Add 1/2" by 3/8" adapter T's and cool the chipset block, parallel to the GPU block. That would allow some of the water to bypass the GPU cooler, which is OK since the GPU was always cold. But 1/2" by 3/8" T's are hard to find outside of a hardware store, and Newegg certainly doesn't have them.

    Solution 2: Switch to a 3-fan radiator. A 4-fan unit won't fit nicely into that case, and making an ugly system wasn't considered a solution.

    Solution 3: Add a second liquid-cooled 5970 parallel to the first. Get twice the GPU power and completely unblock the lines in the process. The GPUs would run slightly hotter when each gets only half the water, but at least the CPU block's flow won't be restricted. And...since it's probably adding another 10 degrees to the coolant...stick the three-fan radiator in there as well. For FOUR grand you could have a KILLER system!

    OK, so solution 1 is the cheapest, but you have to admit solution 3 is tempting...
    12
  • Sihastru
    I kinda like it. Dramatic power increase for the overclocked components. But also dramatic performance increase.

    Another solution to the constricted water flow would be to change the block on the 5970.

    This build gets one and a half thumbs up from me, not that anyone cares...
    0
  • brisingamen
    solution 4:
    swap the mobo forasus super computer mobo
    and swap the h20'ed 5970 for 5850x4 gpu solution,
    and scrap the ssd's for two raid WD black editions.
    swap that case with one that can hold 4 graphics cards.
    scrap the watercooling and nabbed an antec 1200 psu and a good air cooler
    and your 2560x1600 res numbers would have been better.

    thats a nice computer but i think there is more availible for $3000
    -15
  • tecmo34
    Only changes I would've recommended is...

    Storage HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - $90
    RAM: G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $180

    Those would still get you in at $3,000 provide an increase in performance with the Cas7 DDR3 1600 RAM and a faster hard drive (well, if you really need faster with two SSD in RAID0 :D ).
    8
  • JeanLuc
    I don't know why someone marked down tecmo34 comments, if you going to mark down a comment at least have the good curtsey and explain why you disagree (unless it's blindingly obvious like the post left by tacoslave).

    I too would have used the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1Tb it's been reviewed countless times and benchmarked against all the competition and wins every time.
    4
  • cscott_it
    So....You guys planning on giving this beauty away?

    Seriously though, great review. It makes me seriously consider switching to water.
    2
  • JohnnyLucky
    Will the prices continue to rise, will they level off, or will they decrease this Summer?
    -2
  • teslaxero
    Here is what I would like to see...

    Swap the case for a goliath sized Antec 1200, add another 5970 and a seperate water cooler 120.3 for the pair. Now the CPU and GPU's have a water supply independant from each other. Overclock that monster!
    -6
  • jeverson
    The only thing I would have changed would be the case to a COOLER MASTER CM690 II Advanced. It already includes a mount for 2 SSD drives and can accommodate 2 radiators internally. Aside from that, very nice build and I look forward to a chance to win it... ;)
    2
  • banthracis
    teslaxeroHere is what I would like to see...Swap the case for a goliath sized Antec 1200, add another 5970 and a seperate water cooler 120.3 for the pair. Now the CPU and GPU's have a water supply independant from each other. Overclock that monster!


    There is a $3000 budget limit you know. Curious as to why you guys didn't go with the Vertex LE for the SSD. Granted it's only 100gb and was $400, but it's a very large boost in performance, putting even the Intel X25 G2 drives to shame.
    -1
  • blackened144
    banthracisThere is a $3000 budget limit you know. Curious as to why you guys didn't go with the Vertex LE for the SSD. Granted it's only 100gb and was $400, but it's a very large boost in performance, putting even the Intel X25 G2 drives to shame.

    Those SandForce powered drives have amazing performence.. But that drive alone is nothing compared to the 64bg drives in raid0.. Plus you get an extra 28gb with the 2x64gb setup..
    0
  • Anonymous
    What's the boot time???
    0