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System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test Hardware Configurations
Q2 2012 $2000 PCQ1 2012 $2600 PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-3770K 3.50 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.25 VIntel Core i7-3930K 3.20 GHz, Six Physical CoresO/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.38 V
Graphics (Overclock)Asus GTX680-DC2T-2GD5: 1201 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008O/C to 1262 MHz GDDR5-7204MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC: 1010 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5500O/C to 1100 MHz GDDR5-6000
Memory (Overclock)8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-2000 CL 8-10-9-1616 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1866 CL 9-10-9-16
Motherboard (Overclock)ASRock Z77 Extreme6: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLKAsus P9X79 Pro LGA 2011, Intel X79 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK
OpticalLite-On iHAS124-04 24x DVD±RPioneer BDR-206DBKS 12x BD-R
CaseAntec Nine HundredAntec P280 Case w/Rosewill Fans
CPU CoolerZalman CNPS12XZalman CNPS12X
Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe MX 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerSeaSonic SS-750KM: 750W, ATX12V, 80 PLUS GoldSeaSonic SS-860XP: 860W, ATX12V, 80-Plus Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 301.42AMD Catalyst 12.2
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.3.1020Intel INF 9.2.0.1030

In addition to overclocking our PC, we enabled Virtu MVP’s HyperFormance mode in the overclocked configuration. Though it doesn't demonstrate much benefit in most of our System Builder Marathon games, you will see it bolster the 3DMark score. Except for that exhibition, its ineffectiveness in applications that count towards our overall performance calculations would have otherwise caused us to leave it disabled.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
DiRT 3V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
StarCraft IICustom map "Tom's Hardware Guide V2", 60 seconds Fraps Test Set 1: High Details, High Quality Test Set 2: Ultra Details, Extreme Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 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 0.95: "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: 2.2.0.5440: 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
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.1 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mental ray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 15.5 Pro: THG-Workload (650 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.1: THG-Workload (650 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.22: THG-Workload (650 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.10.17.80, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • Trialsking
    Very nice build, if only I had $1800 to spare
    Reply
  • rohitbaran
    Well, is GTX 680 availability good enough now?
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    i would never buy a green 5400 RPM over a 7200 RPM drive, no matter the cost.
    Reply
  • Now imagine if two GTX 670 were available!!
    Reply
  • vakuma5000
    Awesome Build!!

    I have the exact same GTX 680 from ASUS, and I love it. Managed to get 1337Mhz out of the core and 6800 out of the memory. I achieved that with only 115% power limit. If I raise the power limit any higher, i start to loose performance and stability. That is a truly awesome memory oveerclock you got out of it! Congrats!

    Very much looking foreward to the value comparison.
    Would LOVE to see the 1800$ build win the value comparo!
    GO GTX 680!!

    My vote goes towards keeping a gaming focus as opposed to a more "all-in-one" type build.
    Love the System Builder Articles, love Toms!
    Reply
  • strandiam
    So many great cases to choose from with so many great features....
    Reply
  • vakuma5000
    Unfortunately GTX 680 availability is still pretty spotty.
    Had to spend 2 days on newegg, refreshing the page every few mins to get the model i wanted.
    However, it IS looking better. They are listing them more often on newegg, and they don't sell-out as quickly as they were a few weeks ago.
    Check newegg daily from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm CST, and you should be able to catch one.
    The GTX 670's are in stock right now.
    Good luck rohitbaran!
    Reply
  • slicedtoad
    should we keep the gaming focus or move back towards higher-cost do-it-all machines?
    Personally, I'm happy with the gaming focus. Don't know how others feel but gaming performance is more important than productivity benchmarks for me. I compile a lot of code and do some video encoding but I find gaining fps in games is more important than shaving seconds off my work. Besides, productivity follows gaming performance close enough.

    On another note, I dislike value comparisons when things like SSD size and optical drives have made an impact in price. A larger SSD does nothing for a benchmark but is awesome in practice. I'd prefer only comparing the combined price of the gpu, cpu, cooler(s) and mobo in the value chart. That's not a perfect solution but it annoys me that things like high quality PSUs, nice cases, blu-ray burners and large SSDs throw things off so much.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    strandiamSo many great cases to choose from with so many great features....Perhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mana-136-midgard-ii-phantom-410,3203-5.html
    Reply
  • sam_fisher
    CrashmanPerhaps the award-winning NZXT Phantom 410 next time?http://www.tomshardware.com/review 203-5.html
    My only dislike about this build is the case, for a $2000 PC I would prefer a case that was tidier and larger than the Antec Nine Hundred (especially with the layout of the HDD bays). The NZXT Phantom 410 would be much better for that budget.
    Reply