Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

Two GeForce GTX 770s In SLI Are, Obviously, Fast

We spent an extra $300 on this quarter's build with the goal of achieving phenomenal gaming performance. How successful were we? The chart below reflects the averages.

Although CPU-oriented tasks didn't budge at all in light of an identical CPU hitting the same old overclock, the numbers from our four popular titles were up notably. 

Those figures don't even tell the whole tale, in my opinion. Let's have a look at the results and 1920x1080 with high detail settings and 4800x900, our entry-level three-screen resolution.

That's quite a bit more compelling. This quarter's $1600 PC is certainly more capable in games than what I've presented in the past. Playing through Battlefield 3 and Far Cry 3, my final System Builder Marathon machine of the year never dipped below 40 FPS at 5760x1080 in overclocked form, whereas my last effort fell as low as 20 FPS. Particularly if you want to play across three screens, the extra $300 is money well-spent.

Despite the added cost of one MSI Gaming N770 card, I also managed to squeeze a second terabyte of storage into the new build, plus a slightly faster Samsung 840 Pro SSD. Most of my cost-savings came from NZXT's cheaper Gamma case, Asus' Z87-Plus motherboard, and Enermax's ETS-T40 cooler, all of which worked well, despite lower price tags.

Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas. For as well as my two GeForce GTX 770s did today, they should shine even more brightly when they're presented with modern 3D workloads to tackle. Fingers crossed!

  • Crashman
    I just wanted to let you guys know before the $2400 PC pops up, that this renewed focus on gaming is a Don and Paul effort. With $2400 on the line, it's easy to improve the entire machine and try to make a clean sweep of every benchmark :)
  • Onus
    This was a good build, if only for the single data point that was the power usage. At stock, you could get away with a good 650W PSU, but overclocked it's probably not a good idea. There weren't really any surprises anywhere else. The one pic was dark; how was cable management in that case? I used one a while back and reviewed it, and I though that was probably its weakest point.
  • Onus
    If you would like comments and assistance on a personal build, please start your own thread in the New Builds forum. This thread is for discussions about the System Builder Marathon machines. Thanks.
  • Yuka
    I have to say I'm really surprised for the crappy scaling of the GTX770s. Was it a CPU bound issue or maybe a PCIe bottleneck? Driver issue? Profile issue? haha

    I'm really surprised to say the least.

  • blubbey

    Before commenting about benches, read:

    "Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas."

    Last page, last paragraph.

    Nice build, hilariously good performance in BF3, In the more modern games, will there be any GPU memory bottlenecks with triple monitor setups? We shall see!
  • lp231
    It seems these sbm have no strict budget limit. Every time these sbm articles, the budget gets higher and higher. A $1,000 enthusiast pc would be more of a real world build, since that is the maximum amount, most people spend these days on their new build.
    What will the budget be for next times enthusiast pc?
    Now it is at $1,600. So next time it will be $2,500 cause getting them 2x GTX 880 in sli is consider as a budget enthusiast pc?!
  • Steve Pound
    Who plays Skyrim on PC and not have a membership at Nexus so the most basic improvements can be made? Leading to: why has this site used the game for 2 years and not done that? Maybe FO4 will be more promising.
  • jtenorj
    If go go with an optical drive in this price range, it should be a dvd burner. It's not that much more expensive, media prices are coming down(better cost per GB and speed than dvd in some cases) and lets you play blu tay movies without using bandwitdh to download or stream hd video. My 2 cents.
  • jtenorj
    Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
  • mjmjpfaff
    It depends on which resolution you look at. I advise you to go back and look at the higher resolutions where the 770's in SLI can actually show a huge difference over one 770. It almost doubles in FPS over last quarter's build if you look at some 5760x1080 res. graphs.