System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: System Value Compared

Test Setups And Benchmarks

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Test Hardware Configurations
Row 0 - Cell 0 $2000 Performance PC$1000 Enthusiast PC $500 Gaming PC
Motherboard (Overclock)Gigbyte Z68XP-UD3 LGA 1155, Intel X58 Express102 MHz Base ClockEVGA P67 Micro SLI LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipsetNo Base Clock O/CASRock M3A770DE Socket AM3, AMD 770No Reference Clock O/C
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.48 GHz at 1.36 VIntel Core i5-2500K 3.30 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.49 GHz at 1.40 VAMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2 GHz, Four CoresO/C to 3.80 GHz at 1.38 V
Memory (Overclock)8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 9-10-9-28, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1901 CL 9-10-9-168 GB Mushkin DDR3-1600 CAS 7-8-7-24 No O/C4 GB Crucial DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V to DDR3-1333 CL 8-8-8-22
Graphics (Overclock)2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008No O/C2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1 GB: 820 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4200O/C to 875 MHz, GDDR5-4400Sapphire HD 6870 1 GB: 900 MHz GPU, GDDR5-1050O/C to 960 MHz, GDDR5-4720
OpticalLite-On iHAS224-06 24x/8x DVD±R/RWSony AD-7260S-0B 24x/8x DVD±R/RWSamsung SH-222AB 22x/8x DVD±R/RW
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionRaidmax Atlas-295WBNZXT Gamma GAMA-001BK
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 PlusCooler Master Hyper TX3AMD boxed heatsink/fan
Hard DriveAdata S511 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDWestern Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS HDDOCZ Vertex 30 GB, SATA 3Gb/s SSDWestern Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX HDDSeagate Barracuda 500 GB HDD
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS SilverCorsair CX600 V2: 600 W ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUSAntec EarthWatts EA430D: 430 W, ATX12V 2.3, 80 PLUS Bronze
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 280.26AMD Catalyst 11.8
ChipsetIntel INF All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logo
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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, 8x AA
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Version, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
Handbrake CLIVersion 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version:, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • hmp_goose
    Value, shamlue: Will it run Crysis?

    Oh: Wait …
  • revjacob
    Actually what we need now are more affordable 2560x1600 monitors for these enthusiast PCs.
  • compton
    I think the next quarter SBM should utilize an SSD at all segments. Its just about time when no one should seriously think of not including a SSD a build. There are great values out there and even the budget system deserves some love. If a small increase in price segments is necessary, so be it. Going from a HDD to a SSD is like going from IGP to discrete class graphics.

    Also, as a result, more emphasis should be placed on the storage sub system. I know these are gaming configurations, but I'd give up my GPU in a nanosecond if it meant I could keep my SSDs. Fortunately, I don't have to choose, but I would if I had too, and I'm not alone out there. Budget systems don't feel so budget-y with even a modest SSD.
  • chumly
    Maybe the value of the $1000 PC would go up if you weren't wasting money on unnecessary or poorly chosen parts. You could add another 4 GB of ram, and swap out the twin stuttering 460's for 6870's (and still have enough money to add a better, modular PSU).

  • jprahman
    comptonI think the next quarter SBM should utilize an SSD at all segments. Its just about time when no one should seriously think of not including a SSD a build.
    Yeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
  • Kamab
    jprahmanYeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
    there have been 64GB Vertex Crucial drives on sale for < 79$. Which isn't bad.
  • Kamab
    And I meant OCZ Vertex / Crucial M4
  • compton
    jprahmanYeah, good luck fitting an SSD into a $500 gaming build.
    That's why I think the $500 system should be closer to $600, maybe like $550. 30GB Agility drives were going for $40 yesterday at the Egg, so its not like you have to spend $300 to get a tangible benefit. That one addition would have contributed a significant performance benefit and the budget category used to be $650 anyway.
  • nd22
    I would have stick to 1 gpu in the 1000 S build. Instead of 2 gf 460/radeon 6850 I would have used 1 radeon 6970/ geforce gtx570 - from persoanl experience 1 gpu = less problems!
  • mayankleoboy1
    i think quicksync should be included in the final score as video conversion is something that everyone of us do. and if we buy a SB cpu, then we would surely use quicksync.
    maybe also include windows boot time.