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SBM 5: Price/Performance

SBM 5: Price/Performance
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Here are links to each each of the five articles in this month's System Builder Marathon (SBM).

Day 1: Low Cost PC compared to last SBM Low Cost PC
Day 2: Mid Cost PC compared to last SBM Mid Cost PC
Day 3: Higher Cost PC compared to last SBM Higher Cost PC
Day 4: All Three September SBM PCs Overclocked
Day 5: Summary - Price- Performance Winner

The Best Laid Schemes O' Mice An' Men

A greater truth is rarely spoken: In the world of system building, things often get ugly. Carefully planning helps one to avoid a few common pitfalls, but it often occurs that something doesn't fit, an order gets delayed, a vital component gets switched, or one part doesn't deliver the expected performance. We've proven that throwing money at the problem is not the solution, as our problems increased with the complexity of each build. System Builder Marathons are designed to deliver the same challenges to reviewers that independent builders would normally expect, so no cheating or shortcuts were allowed. Anyone wishing to revisit our ordeal is welcome to click on the links above for the full build details of each system.

This month's marathon presents a special treat for value-seeking overclockers, as our final analysis will compare three systems at three distinct price points, using both baseline and overclocked speeds. Will the lowest-cost system win yet again, and if it does, will there still be any justification for purchasing higher cost parts?

With four long days of tuning and testing behind us, it's finally time to measure each system's worth!

Test Setup

System Hardware
Processor 1 Intel Core Duo e6750
2.67 GHz, 1333 FSB, 4 MB Cache
Processor 2 Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
2.40 GHz, 1066 FSB, 8 MB Cache
Processor 3 Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850
2.93 GHz, 1066 FSB, 8 MB Cache
Motherboard 1 ASUS P5K, BIOS: 0507
Motherboard 2 MSI P6N SLI Platinum, BIOS 1.4 (07/31/2007)
Motherboard 3 ASUS Striker Extreme, BIOS 1305 (08/27/07)
RAM 1 Wintec AMPO PC2-6400
2x 1024 MB, CAS 5-5-5-16
RAM 2 Patriot eXtreme Performance PC2-6400
2x 1024 MB, CAS 5-5-5-15
RAM 3 Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400
2x 1024 MB, CAS 4.0-4-4-12
Hard Drive 1 Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS
320 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
Hard Drive 2 Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA300
Hard Drive 3 2x Western Digital Caviar WD7500AAKS, RAID 0
750 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
Networking 1 PCIe Gb LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Networking 2 NVIDIA nForce onboard Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Networking 3 NVIDIA nForce onboard Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics Card 1 EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS, 320 MB RAM
500 MHz GPU, 1600 MHz RAM Data Rate
Graphics Card 2 EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX, 768 MB RAM
576 MHz GPU, 1800 MHz RAM Data Rate
Graphics Card 3 2x Gigabyte GeForce 8800 GTX, 768 MB RAM (Per Card)
575 MHz GPU, 1800 MHz RAM Data Rate
Power Supply 1 Fortron Source AX450-PN, 450W
Power Supply 2 Aero Cool Zerodba 620W Crossfire/SLI ready
Power Supply 3 Ultra Products X3 1000W Modular Power Supply
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows XP Pro 5.1.2600
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Driver Intel INF 8.3.0.1013
NVidia nForce Version 9.53
Graphics Driver NVidia ForceWare 162.18
Benchmarks and Settings
3D-Games
F.E.A.R Version: 1.0 Retail
Video Mode: 1024x768
Computer: Maximum
Graphics: Maximum-Custom-No Softshadows
Test Path: Options/Performance/Test Settings
Doom 3 Version: 1.3
Video Mode: 1024x768
Graphics: High
Test: Time Demo 1
Oblivion Version: 1.0 Retail
Video Mode: 1024x768
Graphics: High, 4xAA
Test: Inside & Outside save files
Audio
Lame MP3 Version 3.97 Beta 2 (12-22-2005)
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to mp3
160 kbps
OGG Version 1.1.2 (Intel P4 MOD)
Version 1.1.2 (Intel AMD MOD)
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to ogg
Quality: 5
Video
TMPEG 3.0 Express Version: 3.0.4.24 (no Audio)
fist 5 Minutes DVD Terminator 2 SE (704x576) 16:9
Multithreading by rendering
DivX 6.6 Version: 6.6
Profile: High Definition Profile
1-pass, 3000 kbit/s
Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading
no Audio
XviD 1.1.3 Version: 1.1.3
Target qantizer: 1.00
Applications
Autodesk 3D Studio Max Version: 8.0
Characters "Dragon_Charater_rig"
rendering HTDV 1920x1080 & 1280x720
Synthetics
SPECviewperf 9 Version: 9.0.3
PCMark05 Pro Version: 1.1.0
System, CPU and Memory Tests
Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
Windows Media Encoder 9.00.00.2980
3DMark05 Version: 1.2
System Test Only
SiSoftware Sandra 2005 Version 2005.7.10.60
CPU Test = Arithmetic, Multimedia Benchmarks
Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

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