System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $2,000 Performance PC

Benchmark Results: Battlefield 3 And DiRT 3

Is the new system CPU-limited in Battlefield 3? Actually, 200 FPS is this game's ceiling. Unfortunately, the frame rate cap is going to affect this quarter's overall average performance score (higher benchmark numbers would have extended the lead of our dual-Radeon HD 7970 system in gaming).

As we increase the detail levels and resolution in Battlefield 3, frame rates come down away from the cap. Most amazing, perhaps, is the drop that happens between 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. Performance remains playable, but a slide from 170 average frames per second down to 52 on our overclocked configuration is certainly extreme.

We aren't aware of an artificial frame rate limit in DiRT 3, so we're more likely to attribute similar performance to a platform-oriented bottleneck. This time, we're thinking it's memory speed, though. After first recording 170 FPS at several resolutions, we enabled the memory kit's XMP profile and watched the frame rate jump to 190 FPS.

Although we're fairly confident that our bottleneck was memory performance at the lower detail settings, we know from lots of experience testing this game that the grouping tightens at more graphically-demanding settings on AMD GPUs. The spread is typically tighter still when using two AMD-based cards in CrossFire. Historically, we've chalked this up to processing overhead associated with the multi-GPU rendering technology, but in light of our earlier discovery, we think we have an interesting benchmark to run in an upcoming memory story, too.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Novuake
    Yeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...
  • Crashman
    NovuakeYeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...Maybe, maybe not, motherboard market has changed a little since the parts were bought and I've since seen some D5-series Gigabyte boards (with their better PWM) drop to $ least temporarily.
  • mayankleoboy1
    Too much of cheap CPU coolers
  • For the next SBM build, use the "SAMSUNG 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) MV-3V4G3D/US". People are posting low timings with very high frequencies. Plus it is low profile (half the size of every other non-heatsink memory modules on the market) and operates at 1.35v (overvolt it to 1.65v without worry).
  • kj3639
    After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!

    -Good Job
  • herooftimex
    Suggested changes:

    Core i5 3570k - savings of $120
    2x - MSI N670 PE 2GD5/OC - $800 (gtx 670 OC'd to 1019 core clock)

    Rosewill FORTRESS-750 - $140 (80 plus platinum + 7 year limited warranty)
    LIAN LI PC-7B plus II - $100 (gamer cases look tacky, less is more)
    I think Toms needs a new article: "The Dream Build" with gaming in mind.
  • Darkerson
    kj3639After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!-Good JobThey really had nothing to redeem themselves about. They went with something a little different, just to try it out. Id rather they go off the beaten path so we can get a better idea of how these builds would turn out without having to buy and build them ourselves.
    Also, if they didnt try something different, they would almost always be cookie-cutter builds until the next big thing came out. No thanks!
    At any rate, this is a really nice build. Have to say, though, I would be happy to win any of these.
  • C12Friedman
    My first thought, I kept going back to it also, was the motherboard, why? I kept going 2nd page, 1st page, 2nd page, back to first page, confusion reigned in my head. Took me a while to get past the second page. But since it was addressed at the end of the article, I guess it's known.
  • One think to consider are both Q3 and Q4 systems future proof. It's important for games and serious task to be able to extend life of your PC and Q4 in this category is certainly penny wise but pound foolish.