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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: System Value Compared
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The following component lists includes the overclock settings used by each system to achieve its ultimate performance capability.

December 2009 SBM Performance, O/C Settings
 $700 PC$1,300 PC$2,500 PC
MotherboardDFI BI P45-T2RS
O/C to FSB-1333
Gigabyte P55-UD4P
O/C to 172 MHz BCLK
Gigabyte P55-UD4P
O/C to 203 MHz BCLK
ProcessorIntel Pentium E5300
2.60 GHz at 3.83 GHz
11.5x 333, 1.424V
Intel Core i5-750
2.66 GHz at 3.61 GHz
21x 172, 1.168V
Intel Core i7-860
2.80 GHz at 3.65 GHz
18x 203, 1.312V
MemoryCorsair DDR2-800
CAS 5-5-5-18, 1.80V
Unchanged
A-Data DDR3-1333
CAS 8-8-8-24, 1.65V
O/C 1374, 9-9-9-24
2 x Crucial DDR3-1333
CAS 9-9-9-24, 1.50V
O/C 1624, 8-8-8-18
Graphics2 x XFX HD 4870
750/3600 MHz
O/C to 790/4400
2 x XFX HD 5850
725/4000 MHz
O/C to 775/4400 MHz
2 x Diamond HD 5870
850/4800 MHz
O/C to 900/5080 MHz
Hard DrivesSamsung Spinpoint F3
500GB HD502HJ
Unchanged
WD Caviar Black
640GB WD6401AALS
Unchanged
2 x WD Caviar Black
2.0TB WD2001FASS
Changed RAID 1 to 0
OpticalSamsung SH-S223C
Unchanged
Samsung SH-S223C
Unchanged
LG WH08LS20 BD-RE
Unchanged
CaseAntec Two HundredNZXT M59Lian-Li LanCool PC-K7B
PowerAntec EarthWatts
650W Non-Modular
Unchanged
Corsair CMPSU-750TX
750W Non-Modular
Unchanged
Corsair CMPSU-850HX
850W Semi-Modular
Unchanged
CPU CoolerXigmatek HDT-SD964Intel Core i5 Standard
(Included w/CPU)
Xigmatek HDT-S1284EE
Crossbow ACK-15363
Cooler + Bracket Kit
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsATI Catalyst 9.11
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1015


Like most of our recent reviews, this month's System Builder Marathon relies on Microsoft’s latest operating system to assure the best performance and compatibility with the latest hardware.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.7, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec)
Test Set 1: Highest Details, No AA, No AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 4x AA, 15x AF
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XPatch 1.02, DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio and Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.2.1.6 (x64)
Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1
MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus database 2094, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0
Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • 6 Hide
    DarkMantle , December 25, 2009 5:34 AM
    Great conclusion Thomas, good System Building Marathon overall. My only wish is to see something with an AMD processor next time, specially on the market segment where they shine.
  • 8 Hide
    shubham1401 , December 25, 2009 6:02 AM
    I am really impressed by the performance of $1300 PC.

    It came so close to the $2500 PC without breaking the bank.
    Simply awesome!!
  • 8 Hide
    noob2222 , December 25, 2009 7:07 AM
    typo on the last page, overclocked $650, not sure if that was the value used in the chart, might check that also.
  • 2 Hide
    ibnsina , December 25, 2009 7:13 AM
    Good conclusions..

    This article can get more interesting if you add previous [September’s ] systems data to the charts.
  • 6 Hide
    erdinger , December 25, 2009 7:45 AM
    Yes the previous systems would have been really nice to compare, espacially in the conclusion.
  • 6 Hide
    Crashman , December 25, 2009 8:04 AM
    ibnsinaGood conclusions..This article can get more interesting if you add previous [September’s ] systems data to the charts.


    Sorry, but that wouldn't be fair. First of all, September's systems used different benchmarks, settings, and OS. Second, September's systems used both AMD graphics that pre-date these, plus AMD processors, and people would have used the older graphics as an excuse to beat up on the CPU. AMD fans would have gone nuts as well, claiming the authors were trying to use the superior graphics of this SBM to skew readers against AMD. Tom's isn't interested in publishing invalid results or creating fake controversy.
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , December 25, 2009 8:14 AM
    psycho sykesA question..Does those come with Windows 7 installed? Or they won't be real 700-1300-2500 machines.. Right?!


    Windows 7 was only installed for the benchmark analysis. For anyone who would like to copy one of the builds and still stay on budget, Ubuntu is suggested.
  • 0 Hide
    kick_pixels , December 25, 2009 9:30 AM
    Crashman
    [/quote]First of all, September's systems used different benchmarks. AMD fans would have gone nuts as well[/quote]

    If you compare the benchmarks, is more or less identical with 1-2 minor differences. What’s wrong with idea of comparing different configurations? I don’t agree with the thought of AMD fans getting upset about it, to contrary they will be happy about gaining new knowledge.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , December 25, 2009 11:24 AM
    First of all, Merry Christmas everyone!
    Second of all, congratulations to Don. His tweaking contributed heavily to the superiority of the $1300 machine. The $700 machine pulled up lame when not gaming, and the $2500 machine was crippled by inadequate cooling.
    If I win the big guy, I'll put it in my CM-RC690 and see how it does. The little guy will get my Q9450, but Don's build just needs a better cooler.
    Nice series.
  • 3 Hide
    Niva , December 25, 2009 4:18 PM
    Merry xmas to the staff and thanks for writing these articles at an otherwise slow time of the year due to holidays. I've enjoyed reading them.
  • 2 Hide
    notty22 , December 25, 2009 4:23 PM
    I enjoyed the whole series. Popular hardware in different configurations, always interesting to read the results.
    I notice a lot of game players ask "will a cpu like the AMD 620 4x2.6 bottleneck a crossfire system of ie 5750,4850,5770". And the answer is evident in these benchmark results. YES, even the i5750 system with turbo liked o/c. All fps were very good except maybe the 700 dollar system at stock levels, but they all showed improvement with o/c. In these tests the o/c includes gpu o/c as well. It was bugging me, the 700 dollar system, using 2 4870's. I've been following prices diligently and I thought that was unrealistic, $250. I had suspicions that you snuck them in to make sure you beat the Sept system with 4850's. But a quick look this morning showed a Diamond 4870 for 129.99
    http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10010069&prodlist=froogle
    Thats a great deal to build on.
  • 2 Hide
    Gryphyn , December 25, 2009 5:08 PM
    Love this series. Always a great read.
  • -3 Hide
    kick_pixels , December 25, 2009 5:42 PM
    Crashman "Windows 7 was only installed for the benchmark analysis. For anyone who would like to copy one of the builds and still stay on budget, Ubuntu is suggested."

    How many of those popular games will run on Ubuntu?
  • -1 Hide
    doron , December 25, 2009 5:45 PM
    I'm still upset about the 2500$ build.

    In addition to all the improper decisions you've mentioned in the conclusions page, the case was completely inadequate for this kind of high-end hardware (unless you mod it) and costs 2 times more (!!!) than the much more able antec 200.

    That by itself could allow buying 2 intake fans and a better cpu cooler, thus increasing overclocking by a big margin, consequently improving overall system performance.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 25, 2009 5:54 PM
    doronI'm still upset about the 2500$ build.In addition to all the improper decisions you've mentioned in the conclusions page, the case was completely inadequate for this kind of high-end hardware (unless you mod it) and costs 2 times more (!!!) than the much more able antec 200.


    It's nice when a case has enough room for both the graphics cards and the hard drives, not either/or.
  • 5 Hide
    arkadi , December 25, 2009 7:18 PM
    The conclusion makes up for the Hi-end build, I guess next Hi-end build will rock. As for the 700$ build...please consider AMD for the next one.
  • 0 Hide
    doron , December 25, 2009 7:47 PM
    @Crashman - Then how about Coolermaster 922 which costs 100$ on newegg?
    I know that's 10$ more but your afoermentioned case has the same 100$ price tag on newegg.

    Even better, for 90$ you could get a mighty Antec 900 (First gen) with all its 3x120mm + 1x200mm fans bundled.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , December 25, 2009 8:07 PM
    doron@Crashman - Then how about Coolermaster 922 which costs 100$ on newegg?I know that's 10$ more but your afoermentioned case has the same 100$ price tag on newegg.Even better, for 90$ you could get a mighty Antec 900 (First gen) with all its 3x120mm + 1x200mm fans bundled.


    Yeh, it's a good deal. Unfortunately it didn't fit within budget at order time, when the Lian-Li case was on sale for $80 and the total purchase was $2495.
  • 1 Hide
    arkadi , December 25, 2009 8:43 PM
    hmm i have an idea. Give us, toms readers option to choose builds in each segment. Post few configurations for each budget for a survey, and build the winer.
  • 5 Hide
    tacoslave , December 25, 2009 8:45 PM
    i would have loved to see the athlon 620 overclocked to 3.2 gigahertz instead of that shitty dual core. i mean a quad core makes sense to drive those 4870's.
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