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The Harder They Fall

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: System Value Compared

The cheapest system usually provides the most performance per dollar and this is where we usually issue a caveat about its performance not being up to the standards of high-end users. However, builder Paul Henningsen appears to have pulled a rabbit out of his hat this time by building a $750 gaming system that, by enabling the fourth core of its three-core AMD processor, has a broad range of capabilities.

Users who play Crysis or S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat at extreme settings might not be able to tolerate anything less than the overclocked $1,500 PC, but most other gamers will find the $750 build a superb value. Power users might be willing to fork over 3.7 times as much money to get our previously-defined 71% performance increase from the $3,000 PC, while anyone looking to split the difference will be more than happy with the overclocked $1,500 system’s 53% gain.

The bottom line is that the $750 PC doesn’t just win a trivial value analysis, but does so while reaching a level of performance that many enthusiasts will find acceptable. Yet the real winner is not the machine but its builder, as Paul Henningsen achieved a best value coup with AMD’s low-cost, overclockable, and unlockable Athlon II X3 435 processor. We wish anyone who copies his efforts similarly good fortune.

Of course, remember that we're giving all three of these machines away to lucky readers. If you haven't yet entered our contest, flip back to page one and make sure you're in the running!

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