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

Benchmark Results: Skyrim And StarCraft II

This quarter's build appears processor-limited in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though what we saw in DiRT 3 means that we can't rule out memory bandwidth just yet. Whatever the cause of the tighter grouping, it doesn't seem to be affecting last quarter's GeForce GTX 670-based build as much.

The fact that last quarter's config appears to game better is a little misleading, though, since frame rates this high simply aren't useful, particularly if we limit performance with v-sync. We're instead compelled to look at more demanding settings in order to evaluate each build's graphics configuration.

Strangely, this quarter's overclocked setup appears to have a limitation in StarCraft II at everything but 1280x1024. If this were a CPU-oriented limitation, we'd expect it to include 1280x1024.

The overclocked third-quarter build exhibits similar behavior at our Ultra/Extreme settings, except for a graphics performance drop at 2560x1600. The fourth quarter's cap is down to around 218 FPS, and it carries through to 2560x1600 where it finally beats the Q3 build. But again, do we need frame rates that high in a game like StarCraft II? Not at all.

  • 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.