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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $2000 PC

Test Settings

We’re comparing today’s build to our September 2010 Hand-Picked Build, which was the follow-up to September’s original $2000 PC.

Test Hardware Configurations
Current $2000 PCPrevious $2000 PC
Motherboard (Overclock)Gigabyte X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Express, ICH10RO/C to 189 MHz BCLKGigabyte X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Express, ICH10RO/C to 188 MHz BCLK
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-950 3.06 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to to 4.35 GHz, 1.40 VIntel Core i7-970 3.2 GHz, Six Physical CoresO/C to to 4.0 GHz, 1.30 V
Memory (Overclock)6 GB Mushkin DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, U/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1133 CL 7-6-7-186 GB Mushkin DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1400, CL 8-8-8-24
Graphics (Overclock)2 x EVGA GeForce GTX-470 607 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3348O/C to 702 MHz, GDDR5-34042 x EVGA GeForce GTX-460 763 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3800O/C to 845 MHz, GDDR5-4200
Hard Drive2 x A-Data S599 SSD, Striped 64 GB x 2 (128 GB Combined) MLC, SATA 3Gb/sSamsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHBS112 Blu-ray Drive, 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±RLite-On iHAS124, 24x DVD±R, 48x CD-R
CaseSilverStone Fortress FT02BAntec Three Hundred Illusion
PowerSilverStone ST85F-P 850 W 850 W, 80 PLUS SilverSeasonic SS-850HT 850 W, 80 PLUS Silver
CPU CoolerProlimatech Megahalems Rev.B, Delta AFC1212D-PWM FanScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia Forceware 260.99Nvidia Forceware 258.96
ChipsetIntel INF INF

We haven’t added any new benchmarks to address hard drive performance and program startup times, but have instead added a chart that shows the measured performance from several of PCMark’s individual hard drive tests. PCMark measures how long it takes to retrieve a group of files, including seek time and transfer time. Rather than report completion time, it divides the combined file size by completion time and reports the result in MB/s.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS) Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: x64 Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes Default format AAC
HandBrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1 GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, 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)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8 Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • amk09
    The link to enter the giveaway doesn't work!

    I would love to be first to enter :)
  • micr0be
    i think im gona get a revo 2 drive ssd to upgrade my current build.... all thanks to santa !!
  • Tamz_msc
    Its good to know that choosing the wrong memory can affect performance in such a way.
  • fstrthnu
    I'm pretty surprised we didn't see Geforce GTX 570s in this build, I guess they got released too late to make it here.
  • fstrthnu
    >> First time in recent memory
    "Cough Cough" Lame Pun
  • jerreece
    Wow that Mushkin memory really jacked up this benchmark.
  • kkiddu
    Most perfect build ever ? Just read the configs yet, and I think that's a possibility.

    Now don't skin me if the config proves to be a flop in the coming pages. Just read the first page and couldn't resist a comment.
  • hemburger
    Why not replace the two ssd's with a single intel 120gb... same price and now on 35nm
  • kkiddu
    I think this one can be trimmed to a very good $1500 build as well. Change the CPU to i5 760, remove one of the cards, one of the SSDs, and you'll need lower capacity PSU for that, let's slash $30-$50 there, you get a very good PC for $1500.
  • kkiddu
    And oh, cheapen the case as well. There's no free lunch. You gotta sacrifice some silence to gains some frame rates.