System Builder Marathon Q1 2016: $1232 Prosumer PC

This quarter’s “Prancing Workhorse” keeps the same “Play” components but adds a little to the “Work” budget. Will added performance offset increased cost for a value win?

System Builder Marathon Q1 2016

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

  1. $1275 Professional Workstation
  2. $1232 Prosumer PC
  3. $662 Budget PC
  4. System Value Compared

$1232 Prosumer PC

We’re all familiar with the notion that there’s a price-to-performance “sweet spot” that changes mostly in response to different types of testing. That is to say, a CPU-heavy workload could use a six-core CPU effectively enough to offset the cost of a six-core CPU, but that extra CPU cost would be wasted in most games. Games even benefit from the newer architectures and higher clock speeds of top four-core processors, so that upgrading to a lower-frequency six-core could result in a gaming performance reduction. Many gamers would justly assess that the six-core CPU isn’t even an upgrade.

With a build history that goes back to my college days, I’m perfectly happy to focus on our entire benchmark suite whenever possible. That usually results in a seesaw of sacrifices between productivity and gaming capability as I search for the best performance balance for the money. As long as I keep my eye on that prize, the only places I can really waste money are in the case, cooling, and storage.

And so I spent three times as much on this quarter’s case compared to my previous build. Most builders would argue that the quality of my previous $20 case would have been insufficient for a $1200 PC. They’re probably right, and it’s not always easy to argue against a large quality improvement for a mere $40. But if I only “wasted” $40 on the case upgrade, where did the rest of my extra $177 go?

Q1 2016 $1232 "Prosumer" PC Components
ProcessorIntel Xeon E3-1230 v5: 3.40GHz-3.80GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB Cache$275
GraphicsAsus GTX970-OC-4GD5 GeForce GTX 970 4GB$330
MotherboardASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Gaming/OC: LGA 1151 Intel C232, ATX$143
MemoryG.SKILL Ripjaws V F4-2666C15D-16GVR: DDR4-2666 C15, 16GB (2 x 8GB) $85
System DriveSAMSUNG 850 EVO MZ-N5E250BW M.2 250GB SATA6Gb/s SSD$88
PowerEVGA 600B: 600W Non-Modular, ATX12V, 80 PLUS Bronze$50
CPU CoolerDeepCool Gammaxx 400$30
 Platform Cost
$1,001
Storage DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX SATA 6Gb/s 7200 RPM HDD$51
OpticalNone$0
CaseRosewill WolfStone ATX Tower$60
Total Hardware Cost 
$1,112
OSWindows 10 Home USB Pack$120
 Complete System Price 
$1,232

I might have buried the lede a bit when focusing on the cash outlay, since the big change in this quarter’s build is the use of a Xeon processor. My goal is to achieve the performance of Intel’s Core i7-6700K for $100 less, through overclocking. And when I set my goal there, you can see why I skipped the “appropriate” ECC memory and instead chose something I could overclock with the CPU.

I also included a secondary storage drive, since nobody really wants to live with a total of 250GB storage, and spent an extra $5 on this build’s power supply. That means $96 of my spending isn’t going towards any performance gains, but that $91 of that extravagance doesn’t count towards the “Platform Value” that I focused so heavily upon in last quarter’s value analysis.

Component Selection

MORE: Latest Systems News
MORE: Systems in the Forums

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
24 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • damric
    Love the Wolfstone but they have been sold out for weeks and replaced with the Wolfalloy which just isn't as awesome.
    0
  • Onus
    I have to wonder what results you might have gotten with a Z170 and an i5-6600K. For all those arguing for Xeons, that comparison would be very useful.
    Due to the light load, I think I can withhold any notable grumbling about the PSU, even though it isn't one I'd buy myself.
    This was an interesting build, but I'll need to think about it before I even think about coming to any conclusions. I'm not sure that BCLK overclocking is going to be readily available. You might have hit a small niche audience, but it is an interesting one.
    1
  • DouglasLand
    Maybe the move down to an i5 and not so much case would have gotten you a 980ti? Again though you were right to try and balance the build compared to the other ones.
    0
  • elbert
    Great build with the xeon. I would drop the HD and replace the samsung 850 with the samsung 950 pro. Beings there is only one m.2 slot its a shame to waste on anything but the fastest.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    I have to wonder what results you might have gotten with a Z170 and an i5-6600K. For all those arguing for Xeons, that comparison would be very useful.
    Scroll down to the configuration table on the second page. Then look at those performance charts again :D
    1
  • dstarr3
    That case is a great way to make people think you have a 12-year-old.
    0
  • SinxarKnights
    Decent PC's... but the cases you guys pick... What is the equivalent of the Antec 300 these days? Does anything like that exist anymore? I should add that I understand the need to choose different cases. Variety, advertising, etc. I just don't like the way they look. Reminds me of the first PC I built, total disaster of a case, "never again" I said.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Decent PC's... but the cases you guys pick... What is the equivalent of the Antec 300 these days? Does anything like that exist anymore? I should add that I understand the need to choose different cases. Variety, advertising, etc. I just don't like the way they look. Reminds me of the first PC I built, total disaster of a case, "never again" I said.
    The WolfStone is a slightly better case than the 300, and was purchased at the same price the 300 used to cost when it was most popular.

    I realize it looks a little playful: I considered only the material quality and ventilation in its selection.
    0
  • Onus
    No wonder I don't get much done on weekdays after work, I must have been half asleep...
    I wonder how many boards will continue to allow BCLK overclocking on Xeons; for those not sharply focused on gaming, it looks like a solid choice. For the gamers though, it looks like the i5 is a little better.
    0
  • Math Geek
    not that impressed with the xeon so far. kep seeing folks swearing by them in the forum as "will stomp an i5 for the same money" don't really see that stomping reflected here.

    what is interesting is an i3 oc'ed this way. seen a few reviews of this with the supermicro board and that was impressive. close enough to i5 performance oc'ed and so much cheaper making it a very interesting idea from a value perspective. perhaps next time you could go this way and drop the extra cash into the next step of gpu.

    that sounds like an interesting build to me.
    1
  • damric
    Anonymous said:
    not that impressed with the xeon so far. kep seeing folks swearing by them in the forum as "will stomp an i5 for the same money" don't really see that stomping reflected here.

    what is interesting is an i3 oc'ed this way. seen a few reviews of this with the supermicro board and that was impressive. close enough to i5 performance oc'ed and so much cheaper making it a very interesting idea from a value perspective. perhaps next time you could go this way and drop the extra cash into the next step of gpu.

    that sounds like an interesting build to me.


    Spoiler: I think Jaron will be showing us his i3 results soon for the budget end SBM. I don't know if he will stabilize 4.6GHz like I did on my i3 though. I think it was easier because I used DDR3.
    1
  • Math Geek
    SSSSWWWEEEEETTTTT. won't be sleeping tonight waiting for that one to drop :)

    from what i have seen so far, there is a reason the i3 is not offered in a "k" model and i'm assuming we get another taste of that for the budget build.....
    1
  • Mac266
    They should re-boot the Pentium line as a unlocked Hyper-threaded dual core.
    0
  • ComputerSecurityGuy
    Intel ruined Skylake Xeon by requiring a different chipset. Sometimes I remember the good old times of nForce when you could never do such a thing.
    -1
  • gilbadon
    The wolfstone is really cool. I love rosewill's influence in the market. They create both the cheapest and best products while also introducing new ideas that actually work. Maybe not the best case for $60, but hard to beat the cool factor.
    0
  • f-14
    first time i am NOT signing up for the contest. smhid
    0
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    first time i am NOT signing up for the contest. smhid

    I can understand not having interest in a workstation machine, but what's not to like here? That's a Xeon E3v5, 16GB RAM, GTX 970, and 850 Evo SSD. Spiting all the internals just because you don't like the look of a case?
    1
  • damric
    Nice job on the overclocking, Thomas!
    1
  • mben
    What OS did you use? In the table Q1 2016 "Prosumer" PC Components under OS is listed Windows 10 Home USB Pack for $120 with it being 64-bit implied by having > 4 GB of memory in use . However, in the table Test Hardware Configuration the Software OS is listed as Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x 64.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    What OS did you use? In the table Q1 2016 "Prosumer" PC Components under OS is listed Windows 10 Home USB Pack for $120 with it being 64-bit implied by having > 4 GB of memory in use . However, in the table Test Hardware Configuration the Software OS is listed as Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x 64.
    Both OS are 64 bit. The Win10 test image is still being finalized.
    0