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Benchmark Results: Crysis

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $750 Gaming PC
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Being the only game carried over to the 2010 test suite, Crysis will give us the opportunity for comparison to the $700 SBM PC from December 2009. We include 1920x1200 data for this game, but from here on out we switch to the far more affordable 1080p resolution.

The stock $750 PC delivers playable performance at high details through all the tested resolutions, and picks up an additional 15% increase from overclocking. The unlocked processor core makes very little difference here in this game. You may also notice at these settings that the switch to a resolution of 1920x1080 results in the slightest performance drop.

The added demands of very high details limit the stock $750 PC to lower resolutions, but our overclocking efforts reward us with a fair level of playability all the way up through 1080p. The fourth core provides no benefit, and in each case performance drops off a bit at 1920x1200.

After seeing a fairly impressive showing by this month’s $750 gaming PC, let’s add data from the last SBM to see how the two systems compare. To note, the latest Catalyst 9.11 display drivers were used back in December and Catalyst 10.2 was used for the March system.

As mentioned in the conclusion of the previous article, we re-ran tests with a memory swap and found the non-tweaked basic DDR2-800 RAM was limiting gaming performance between 6%-14%. Here we’ll include that extra data series from pairing CL5 DDR2-1066 with our overclocked December system.

It’s no surprise that this month’s $750 PC offers the better stock performance, although the margin is larger than we may have expected. What’s most interesting is at these detail levels, the stock $750 PC even outperforms last month's overclocked PC. Increasing memory bandwidth with faster RAM brought in an extra four to five frames per second (FPS), but still wasn’t enough to catch up to current overclocked AMD machine.

Crysis at very high details will give us a good look at whether the pair of Radeon HD 4870s can propel the December PC into the lead and the short answer is that it does not.

The overclocked $700 PC only manages to beat the stock $750 PC at 1920x1200. In fact, the only test in which the December PC outright tops this chart comes at 1920x1200 with DDR2-1066 added. Performance is awfully close, but considering that these small victories come with frame rates we would call borderline-playable anyway, it’s pretty clear the real winner in Crysis is the more balanced $750 Athlon II-based PC.

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  • 14 Hide
    skora , March 18, 2010 9:07 AM
    Are the STALKER numbers a result of it just being a 512mb GPU? I know the powercolor is single slot, but the 1gb is just $115. Worth it in your opinion?

    I've thrown this out there before for a SBM, but a progressive upgrade SBM would be cool. Instead of 3 systems head to head, you start with one with the entry level budget. Bench it, then add $200 or so worth of upgrades, bench it. Rinse and repeat. Your first system might have a single GPU and need to spend a little more on a mobo for a dual ready mobo, but that's not really a deal breaker. Then add the second GPU and better cooling or whatever the article rules end up being.

    You could also do something like they do on Top Gear (UK) and inherited some old systems and have to do the best you can to get them current.

    Of all the SBMs, this entry model is by far my favorite.
  • 11 Hide
    jsowoc , March 18, 2010 7:00 AM
    I find the value comparisons are usually (always?) that the least expensive computer has the most "value", followed closely by the middle computer, trailed by the most expensive setup.

    Would it be possible to make a 3-way comparison of systems at the same price (for example, $1000)? One could be an AMD-based system, another an Intel-based, and a third maybe a graphics-heavy monster, or a MicroATX system (to see how much performance you sacrifice to stay in $1000 and fit a small form factor).
  • 10 Hide
    Hothr , March 18, 2010 12:12 PM
    It would be nice to make these a wishlist on newegg and link to it (this is sponsored by newegg, right?). That would give us an easy way to have the parts all listed together and click on each to quickly get full specs / reviews, then tweak to our personal tastes.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    erdinger , March 18, 2010 6:22 AM
    This system seams to be really potent. Good job!
  • 6 Hide
    erdinger , March 18, 2010 6:31 AM
    Good job. I Really like the system and I agree in nearly every decision.

    unlocking the forth core and still overclocking to 3.6Ghz is just great! I'm getting jealous because my 4th core is broken.

    I'm looking forward to the value comparison.
  • 3 Hide
    cruiseoveride , March 18, 2010 6:53 AM
    This is almost identical to my build. But I used 2nd hand parts, dual HD4870s and it worked out just less than $600.

    4 cores, 3.2Ghz, 13,000 3dmark points.

    Great bang-for-buck system.
  • 4 Hide
    stray_gator , March 18, 2010 6:58 AM
    Apart from a SBM entry, this article also provides reality check regarding the benefits of a fourth core. quite useful.
  • 11 Hide
    jsowoc , March 18, 2010 7:00 AM
    I find the value comparisons are usually (always?) that the least expensive computer has the most "value", followed closely by the middle computer, trailed by the most expensive setup.

    Would it be possible to make a 3-way comparison of systems at the same price (for example, $1000)? One could be an AMD-based system, another an Intel-based, and a third maybe a graphics-heavy monster, or a MicroATX system (to see how much performance you sacrifice to stay in $1000 and fit a small form factor).
  • 2 Hide
    Otus , March 18, 2010 7:07 AM
    What would by interesting is a round of "upgrade" builds. Set specific budgets for ungrades and add them on top of the hardware from a previous round. That would allow commentary on upgrade paths and also help builders of new rigs.
  • 6 Hide
    shubham1401 , March 18, 2010 7:18 AM
    Wow!
    This processor is a beast for the price...Really Impressed
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 18, 2010 7:19 AM
    jsowocI find the value comparisons are usually (always?) that the least expensive computer has the most "value", followed closely by the middle computer, trailed by the most expensive setup.Would it be possible to make a 3-way comparison of systems at the same price (for example, $1000)? One could be an AMD-based system, another an Intel-based, and a third maybe a graphics-heavy monster, or a MicroATX system (to see how much performance you sacrifice to stay in $1000 and fit a small form factor).


    Except for the CPU cooler, you usually sacrifice nothing to go Micro ATX. Tom's Hardware even did a micro-ATX SBM...where the Core i7 system sucked because it had to use the stock cooler. You can find semi-small micro-ATX cases that fit mid-sized coolers.

    Antec also makes a MICRO ATX MID TOWER which REALLY sux since it misses the point of Micro ATX completely, so I don't want to hear about that one.

    And of course there's Micro ATX mini-towers with the same layout as full-ATX. You get all the performance of ATX and the big cooler, with a case that's around 14-15" tall.
  • 3 Hide
    jsowoc , March 18, 2010 7:48 AM
    CrashmanExcept for the CPU cooler, you usually sacrifice nothing to go Micro ATX. Tom's Hardware even did a micro-ATX SBM...where the Core i7 system sucked because it had to use the stock cooler. (...)


    My argument was not that they should do a $500-$1000-$2000 comparison of uATX builds - they did this. I was suggesting doing a $1000intel - $1000amd - $1000uATX comparison.
  • -1 Hide
    tigerwraith , March 18, 2010 7:48 AM
    I still dont understand why they went with 2 gfx cards. Ive seen in a lot of reviews that even the newest games dont always work right off the bat when using Crossfire or SLi, So why not spend the money on a 5770 for this. You get DX 11, Dual to Triple moniters, and passthrough. So say you wanted to build a budget HTPC that could game Id have went with the 5770 or 5830 not only would that be a great cpu to watch on a HDTV but you would only need the HDMI cable to run everything.
  • -4 Hide
    curnel_D , March 18, 2010 8:04 AM
    Going out of your way to mention that you had to lead the 4/8 pin CPU power cable across the video cards is a little ridiculous, considering that anyone who has put together more than one of these systems knows they can rout it under the video cards instead. And doing so probably would have provided more wriggle room for the cable as well.

    And IMO, this case just wasn't a good choice. Coolermaster has comparable cases for as much as $20 less. That 20 bucks would have landed you an x4 630 procc instead, which would be a much better choice for current and future gaming, when unlocking the 4th core in an x3 is always an uncertain affair.
  • -6 Hide
    nevertell , March 18, 2010 8:11 AM
    It sucks that you can only get a chance to win these builds if you live in the states.
  • -8 Hide
    abhilash , March 18, 2010 8:16 AM
    AT got 4ghz with 4cores+6mbL3 on PII X2 555

  • -6 Hide
    abhilash , March 18, 2010 8:17 AM
  • -6 Hide
    azs , March 18, 2010 8:21 AM
    How about a machine for running ESXi for us virtualisation nuts.
  • -4 Hide
    axekick , March 18, 2010 8:40 AM
    tigerwraithI still dont understand why they went with 2 gfx cards. Ive seen in a lot of reviews that even the newest games dont always work right off the bat when using Crossfire or SLi, So why not spend the money on a 5770 for this. You get DX 11, Dual to Triple moniters, and passthrough. So say you wanted to build a budget HTPC that could game Id have went with the 5770 or 5830 not only would that be a great cpu to watch on a HDTV but you would only need the HDMI cable to run everything.


    Agreed. I have the same motherboard, case, hard drive but different G. Skill kit and a Radeon HD 5750 that benchmarks over 15,000 on 3DMark06(overclocked), 13,378 without overclocking.

    My system also has a Phenom II BE 720 as it predates this processor I believe.
  • -4 Hide
    xizel , March 18, 2010 8:49 AM
    One question, is it mandatory or does it give more performance to use 2 crossfire bridges?
  • 14 Hide
    skora , March 18, 2010 9:07 AM
    Are the STALKER numbers a result of it just being a 512mb GPU? I know the powercolor is single slot, but the 1gb is just $115. Worth it in your opinion?

    I've thrown this out there before for a SBM, but a progressive upgrade SBM would be cool. Instead of 3 systems head to head, you start with one with the entry level budget. Bench it, then add $200 or so worth of upgrades, bench it. Rinse and repeat. Your first system might have a single GPU and need to spend a little more on a mobo for a dual ready mobo, but that's not really a deal breaker. Then add the second GPU and better cooling or whatever the article rules end up being.

    You could also do something like they do on Top Gear (UK) and inherited some old systems and have to do the best you can to get them current.

    Of all the SBMs, this entry model is by far my favorite.
  • 9 Hide
    tecmo34 , March 18, 2010 9:24 AM
    skoraInstead of 3 systems head to head, you start with one with the entry level budget. Bench it, then add $200 or so worth of upgrades, bench it. Rinse and repeat. Your first system might have a single GPU and need to spend a little more on a mobo for a dual ready mobo, but that's not really a deal breaker. Then add the second GPU and better cooling or whatever the article rules end up being. You could also do something like they do on Top Gear (UK) and inherited some old systems and have to do the best you can to get them current.Of all the SBMs, this entry model is by far my favorite.
    Interesting concept... I like that idea myself.
  • 4 Hide
    Onus , March 18, 2010 10:49 AM
    I read this even before going to work this morning, and after all this additional time to think about it, and as literate as I'd like to believe I am, my best response remains "Sweet!" However much luck may have contributed to a decent OC and the unlock, any change I might come up with would be niggling. I can't even grouse about the budget too much, as 1) prices were different, and 2) cuts in non-core items (e.g. case and HDD) would bring it down.
    I do like the idea of finding a way to add upgradability to the SBM, or simply upgrades; e.g. start with three old Dells and throw $100, $200, and $500 at them, and see how much you can improve each one. No rules other than a strict budget; specifically mobo replacement IS allowed.
    I also hope the excellent results here mean we will never again see a miserable e5x00 in another budget build.
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