System Builder Marathon, March 2010: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’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 check out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
The $700 PC in last December's System Builder Marathon was an attempt to get the highest overclocked performance we’ve seen from our value-priced system. Using just $92 dollars of our budget for a dual-core Intel processor and 92mm cooler meant $250 could be allocated towards a powerful pair of Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards. Skyrocketing DDR2 memory prices meant increasing the budget, dropping to 2GB of system RAM, or utilizing the cheapest 4GB kit of CL5 DDR2-800 available. While the final result was a successful boost to application performance and high-resolution gaming, there was still plenty of room left for improvement.
The former PC was, honestly, a bit out of balance, with too little of our budget going towards the processor and system RAM. In this round, we aim to improve the situation by utilizing a triple-core AMD Athlon II X3 435 and 4GB of high-speed DDR3 memory.
Gaming is still top priority for this system, so a single GeForce GTS 250, Radeon HD 5750, or even Radeon HD 5770 would offer nowhere near the level of performance we seek. Remaining Radeon HD 4870s are far too expensive for us to consider a pair again this month. But thankfully we have seen a reemergence of Radeon HD 4850s. Newegg carried six models for us to choose from, two of them priced at just $100.
While we have been criticized for going with dual GPUs in a value-oriented gaming machine, the fact remains that two Radeon HD 4850s offer far better performance than any single $200 GPU. To get this level of performance from a single graphics card with one GPU, you would need to spend about $100 more for a Radeon HD 5850. A well-designed $500-$600 gaming PC will more than likely sport just a single GPU, but an extra $100 or so can go a long way in terms of boosting gaming performance.
|Component|| $750 Gaming PC Component Prices|| Price |
|CPU||AMD Athlon II X3 435||$84|
|CPU Cooler||Xigmatek HDT-SD964||$22|
|RAM||G.Skill Ripjaws 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL||$94|
|Graphics||2 x Sapphire 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB||$200|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS, 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0 Gb/s||$75|
|Case||Antec Three Hundred Illusion||$60|
|Power||Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W||$85|
|Optical||LG Black 22X DVD Burner SATA Model GH22NS50||$24|
The budget for this round had been set to $750 to combat the escalating cost of memory and graphics cards. Rather than solely focus on a price/performance ratio, we chose to use up the remaining funds and bump storage to the 640GB Western Digital Black hard drive. While some of these components have gone up in price, others are available for less, allowing this PC to be currently built for a few dollars cheaper.
- Finding Balance
- CPU And Cooler
- Motherboard And Memory
- Graphics Cards And Hard Drive
- Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive
- Hardware Installation
- Unlocking: Success!
- Test System Configuration And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Benchmark Results: Crysis
- Benchmark Results: Call Of Duty: MW2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, And DiRT 2
- Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Power Consumption, Performance Summary, And Efficiency