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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

Meet this quarter's System Builder Marathon setup, along with our overclocked benchmark settings.

Current $800 PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Core i5-3470 (Ivy Bridge): 3.2 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.6 GHz Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, Power-savings enabled3.8 to 4.0 GHz, Power-savings enabled
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock Z75 Pro3 LGA 1155, Intel Z75 Express, BIOS: v.P1.90 (07-12-13)Unchanged
RAM8 GB Team Vulcan DDR3-1600 Kit (2 x 4 GB)CL 9-9-9-24 XMP at 1.50 VUnchanged
GraphicsGigabyte GV-R928XOC-3GD Radeon R9 280X 3 GB GDDR51100 MHz GPU, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) Memory1115 MHz GPU, 1600 MHz (6400 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit EthernetUnchanged
PowerEVGA 500 B 100-B1-0500-KR 500 WUnchanged
OpticalLite-On 24x DVD Burner SATA iHAS124-04Unchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta  9.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged

And here's last quarter's configuration.

Q3 2013 $650 Gaming PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUAMD FX-6300 (Vishera), 3.5 GHz (4.1 GHz Turbo), 8 MB Shared L3, Turbo Core enabled, Power-savings enabled4 GHz, Turbo Core disabled, Power-saving disabled
CPU CoolerAMD retail boxed heatsink & fanUnchanged
MotherboardMSI 970A-G43 AMD 970 / SB950, BIOS: v.10.2 (02-04-13)Unchanged
RAM8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 Kit (2 x 4 GB) CL 9-9-9-27 XMP at 1.650 VDDR3-1866, CL 9-10-10-28 1T at 1.65 V
GraphicsEVGA GeForce GTX 760 2 GB GDDR5 980 MHz (1033 MHz Typical, 1110 GPU Boost) Core, 1502 MHz (6008 MT/s) Memory1254 MHz (Max Boost) Core, 1801 MHz (7204 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory (110% Power, +150 MHz GPU, +600 MHz Memory, Auto Fan)
Hard DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB, 7200 RPM 64 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit EthernetUnchanged
PowerAntec VP-450 450 WUnchanged
OpticalSamsung 24x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-224DB/RSBSUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverNvidia ForceWare 320.49 WHQLUnchanged

These are the System Builder Marathon benchmarks.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Version 1.6.0.0, DirectX 11, 90-Sec. Fraps "Going Hunting" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Elders Scroll V: SkyrimVersion 1.9.32.08, 25-Sec. Fraps Test Set 1: High Preset, No AA, 8x AF, FXAA Enabled Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA Enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-Sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Version 1.3.3.0, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Arma IIIVersion 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
GRID 2Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 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)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677, MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Abobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video, 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat X ProVersion 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encyption
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion 2.67b, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
Compression
7-ZipVersion 9.28, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinRARVersion 4.2, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Performance Suite
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0, Full Test, Default Settings
SiSoftware Sandra 2013Version: 2013.01.19.50, Processor  Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
  • khaledegy200
    is there a huge different between i5 3470 and i5 3550p? if not then why don't save money?
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    i5 3550p is kind of a rare beast, when available, it could be a winner, provided you don't need quick sync. Even 750K and 760K BE are just salvaged chips so their availability is not guaranteed. Anyway this are good ways to save money. One thing I don't understand is why build a system with a DVD burner? The last time used it was in 2007, since then I went for USB boot on new systems and I bought an Asus BD writer usb3 12x just to watch BD movies. All I got is coming from digital distribution, I live in Italy, and I have a 10Mbit/s ADSL. I really hate discs right now, obsolete, slow and still used after 27 years. Consoles please go back to cartridge/flash roms, 1 to 5 seconds loading screens and no PC challenge.
    Reply
  • chimera201
    12268757 said:
    i5 3550p is kind of a rare beast, when available, it could be a winner, provided you don't need quick sync. Even 750K and 760K BE are just salvaged chips so their availability is not guaranteed. Anyway this are good ways to save money. One thing I don't understand is why build a system with a DVD burner? The last time used it was in 2007, since then I went for USB boot on new systems and I bought an Asus BD writer usb3 12x just to watch BD movies. All I got is coming from digital distribution, I live in Italy, and I have a 10Mbit/s ADSL. I really hate discs right now, obsolete, slow and still used after 27 years. Consoles please go back to cartridge/flash roms, 1 to 5 seconds loading screens and no PC challenge.

    Not all countries have good internet infrastructure. If that wasn't the case Microsoft wouldn't have to reverse its policies on the X1. Another thing is retail game DVDs costs very less in my country. For example, Bioshock Infinite costs only 15.97$ at launch date. If I were to buy it through Steam at launch date it would have cost me 59.99$

    Reply
  • bemused_fred
    12268507 said:
    is there a huge different between i5 3470 and i5 3550p? if not then why don't save money?

    I know that the writers of "best CPUs" for the money always make a huge fuss about how "oh, you save 7W (or however much it is) by not having the on-board graphics", but I still think it's worth keeping, for if your discrete card gives out on you. My PC buggered up installing my graphics drivers once, and if it weren't for my intel "backup" GPU, my rig would have been bricked.
    Reply
  • pauldh
    12268507 said:
    is there a huge different between i5 3470 and i5 3550p? if not then why don't save money?

    For us, both were available from Newegg at a $10 difference. Either is fine. I chose the -3350P back for the Q1 $600 Gaming PC, and it's OC was limited to 3.5-3.7 GHz with this same Z75 Pro3 mobo. But I actually prefer the -3470 at these prices for reasons stated in the text (higher clocks and backup HD 2500 graphics). It fit in under budget, and its higher Turbo limit provide a 300 MHz boost across the board (3.8-4.0 GHz) when overclocking. That right there is worth $10 in an SBM where value equals a straight bang for buck calculation.

    Reply
  • Onus
    As I believe I said I would in a past SBM article, I have deleted a string of off-topic posts. If an alternate build doesn't follow the rules of the SBM (e.g. all Newegg) it is OFF TOPIC in SBM discussions. Please be aware that discussions of pricing, while not off topic, do need to account for what was available at the time the SBM build was ordered.
    ----
    My own thoughts on this one are mixed. I like to see the challenge of a lower budget. This $800 PC was quite good, however. With the focus on gaming this SBM cycle, this one looks like a shoe-in for value winner. I don't see what two or three times the budget will buy that can offer similar multiples of performance, especially that will be visible in actual use.
    That said, for my own uses, I'd take the "High" to "Max" settings in my games that a GTX650Ti Boost would offer, and put the balance into a SSD.

    Reply
  • Amdlova
    mine 3470 is running at 4.0ghz 4 cores 2 cores at 4.2ghz 3470 is a good cpu ;) maximum fsb i get on that cpu before freezes is 109.
    Reply
  • raede
    I am always glad to see a budget gaming machine build with my definition of budget being in the $750 area. However, most do not include an O.S cost which could easily add $100 to the mix unless you are going with an open source model.
    I currently just built a "budget" machine for my son which ended up close to $850. That build was using an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz to (O.C. to 4.3GHz @ 38 C), w/ an Enermax ETS-T40-TB 86.7 CFM CPU Cooler.
    What I wanted had to be tempered with what I could squeeze into the budget so a new Asus Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card was put in for now. A WD Caviar (Blue) 1TB drive was put in for storage, G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory and a Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply to make it all run. Windows 8.1 was installed and the case is a nice looking Corsair 350D case.
    My working theory is this rig will run well now and a new video card, better CPU cooler with a faster stronger CPU and an SSD down the road are all manageable upgrades that could keep this machine running good, playable frame rates for several years down the road.
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat and to me this was the least amount I would build with.
    Reply
  • AMD Radeon
    i believe i5 haswell at the same price will make 5-10% performance boost
    Reply
  • khaledegy200
    Thanks for all the info guys.
    Reply