System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Synthetics

Boasting both a greater number of processing cores, as well as more powerful graphics hardware, it comes as no surprise that this quarter's gaming PC leads at all three of 3DMark11’s benchmark presets.

Really, the emphasis here is on graphics muscle though, so any boost to scoring should be most closely attributed to the Radeon HD 6870 we were able to fit in this quarter.

Based on how large of a spread we saw in the real-world tests, it's a bit surprising to see both machines place more closely in PCMark 7's Overall and Productivity suites. The AMD rig trails slightly in stock form, but manages a narrow victory once it's overclocked.

This quarter's machine drops off a bit in the hard drive tests, despite the use of a nearly identical mechanical drive. Storage performance has not been one of the stronger points for any of our AMD systems using this motherboard.

Overclocking brings victories to the Phenom II in the Arithemtic component of Sandra 2011. As we saw from the $500 Phenom II-based build from two quarters ago, the Int. x16 iSSE2 Multimedia score was only 40% of what we expected.

Memory data rates weren't increased on either $500 machine, but we were able to slightly increase realized bandwidth through tighter (CAS 8) timings.

Despite core speed and CPU-NB frequency overclocking, the AMD-based rig can’t come close to matching the bandwidth of our Sandy Bridge-based platform.

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  • very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
    23
  • Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
    17
  • Its a good $500 build .except it cost $520 and the motherboard is a dead end part .
    For another $30 you can include an AM3+ board with the latest 970 series chip set that is fully compatible with Bulldozer.
    As it is this build is a dead end , and its out of date in 3 weeks

    But its still a better computer than the previous intel build
    17
  • Other Comments
  • Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
    17
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
    4
  • The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
    13
  • very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
    23
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
    6
  • Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
    12
  • This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
    16
  • whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
    7
  • This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
    -2
  • This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!
    11
  • What's that? The Surprise Fourth Build will not be the $2k version? Someone's going to poke around in the grey area between the i3-2100 and the i5-2500? How much extra cash will be allowed?

    Why do posts like this "sound" like the something from the '60s Batman TV show?

    Tune in tomorrow! :-P
    2
  • First off, great build, the balance of parts is great, and almost exactly what I would recommend to someone in this budget area.

    But seriously, what is going on with the small/ low res charts?
    3
  • This Rig Rocks ! I would only change the case :) maybe a cooler master storm.
    4
  • The first of this months builds that are great and you can see there is a budget that was thought of.
    1
  • Its a good $500 build .except it cost $520 and the motherboard is a dead end part .
    For another $30 you can include an AM3+ board with the latest 970 series chip set that is fully compatible with Bulldozer.
    As it is this build is a dead end , and its out of date in 3 weeks

    But its still a better computer than the previous intel build
    17
  • It was a good comparison, and the right build to do, because we got an honest look at the differences and advantages to each platform.
    That said, I would have to say that it's not the right $500 system for most gamers. The P II X2 555BE would perhaps let you get a better board, making it a smarter buy at $520, and of course some excellent Rosewill combo deals (that are always on) would help out with the case and PSU.
    1
  • Nice to see the 955 finally get to stick it to the i-3. That and the old boy is what, two years old? Way to go AMD! Its a shame Tom's could'nt point that out. Not really surprising though, with the tiny charts hiding how the 955, DOMINATED, the i-3 at high resolution.
    -4
  • Nicely done. I can atest to the volume of that freaking stock fan too. I had mine up to 7000 RPM on my HTPC. I HAD to replace it, it sounded like an old ventalation fan in a bathroom
    0
  • @Cobra5000 - Are you really that happy that a stock SB I3 is beaten by a P-II x4 OC'd just past the AMD X4 top end proc? Ya, its 2 years old but the I3 isn't exactly a high end part. If the P-II had kept up or beaten a I5, then you should be cheering. I think you meant "the tiny charts hiding how the 6780, DOMINATED, the 6850 at high resolutions." The wins the 955 got were in productivity apps due to its 4 physical cores.

    I'm hoping that bulldozer will finally give Intel something to worry about. Some pricing wars would be really nice. But I'm not holding my breath.

    I think it would be interesting if they changed the video card to a 6850 and show how much the processor change actually made a difference.
    4
  • mayankleoboy1whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?


    Toms is saving up bandwidth by annoying readers.
    2