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System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $550 Gaming PC

3D Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 And Crysis

3D Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Crysis

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 offers fairly impressive visuals on modest graphics hardware, and our stock PCs both average 83 frames per second (FPS) at 1,080p. We are dealing with different graphics drivers between systems, but the March PC is clearly CPU-limited, allowing the June PC with a single Radeon HD 5770 to average slightly higher frames per second at low resolutions.

Overclocking allows the March PC to pull a slight (albeit insignificant) lead over the current system.

By enabling 4x anti-aliasing (AA), we see a glimpse of the performance potential of a pair of Radeon HD 4850 cards, as the overclocked March PC is still CPU-limited at 1,080p, while a little more stress is seen with the single Radeon HD 5770 at these settings. Regardless, both stock systems have all it takes for smooth maximum detail gameplay in CoD: Modern Warfare 2.

The stock $550 PC handles high details in Crysis fairly well up to a 1680x1050 resolution, but the machine is still outclassed by the former $750 PC. Overclocking improves performance and may keep some people happy at 1080p, but it’s clear the March rig is far more capable at this resolution.

At very high details, Crysis just crushes the June PC. We have taken some criticism for using dual graphics cards in value-oriented builds, but make note of acceptable 1,080p performance for our overclocked pair of Radeon HD 4850s versus what we consider unplayable at 1280x1024 for the overclocked Radeon HD 5770. A single Radeon HD 4890 does a decent job at 1280x1024, while a Radeon HD 5850 or two Radeon HD 4850s are a better starting point when raising resolutions from there.

  • gkay09
    ^ I dont like the idea of using the CM eXtreme power PSUs...
    You could get a EA 430W for about $49 @newegg...
    Just a thought - you could save money on the mobo by going with TOM's favorite brand ASRock board with the 770 Chipset...So with the money saved, getting a better PSU would have been a good idea...
    Reply
  • adbat
    I plan to build a similar machine so it's nice to see the numbers :-)
    Again unlocking was successful the 50-50 chance do not apply to your tests.
    But no surprise this is a just enough machine.
    Reply
  • archange
    Buying the same components here, online, gets me to ~800 USD. That, including my 3% Diamond Customer discount at my favorite e-tailer. Granted, the Power Color was out of stock, which led me to Sapphire and i also had to exchange the RAM for Kingston HyperX CL7.

    People in the States have way to much... fun :P
    Reply
  • Crashman
    gkay09you could save money on the mobo by going with TOM's favorite brand ASRock board with the 770 Chipset...Wait, Tom's has a favorite brand? I've heard rumors in the past that Asus got all of Tom's Hardware's attention...and Gigabyte has been getting a lot of awards so maybe them...where does ASRock come into all of this favoritism, from its use in previous low-cost SBM machines?
    Reply
  • zooted
    I like this build much better than the $1000 one
    Reply
  • noob2222
    This one and the $1000 show some pretty impressive efficiency and power savings over the previous, more expensive builds. Save some dough now and in the long haul. Imo thats pretty important on a tight budget build, you don't want it costing more over its lifetime than what you saved in building it.
    Reply
  • skora
    and liked the idea of incorporating a $100 Cooler Master trio in the build.CrashmanWait, Tom's has a favorite brand? I've heard rumors in the past that Asus got all of Tom's Hardware's attention...and Gigabyte has been getting a lot of awards so maybe them...where does ASRock come into all of this favoritism, from its use in previous low-cost SBM machines?
    No, this month its Coolermaster.

    "and liked the idea of incorporating a $100 Cooler Master trio in the build."

    No shame, we all have bills.

    Very well balanced system. Very helpful to see a working system with just 2 gigs ram and break the stereo type that 4 is required.
    Reply
  • tacoslave
    ah i miss the days when you could buy 4 gigs of ram for $20. But now that only buys you about 1gig.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    skoraand liked the idea of incorporating a $100 Cooler Master trio in the build.No, this month its Coolermaster. No shame, we all have bills.Very well balanced system. Very helpful to see a working system with just 2 gigs ram and break the stereo type that 4 is required.
    You're reading that completely out of context.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    At this price range, I think an Athlon II x2 or Pentium E6500 system would probably do better for pure gaming.

    Both have more cache, the Pentium dramatically so. The Athlon II x2 would almost certainly over clock better, since stock speed is much higher, and most sites show them generally able to get to 3.8 GHz at roughly 1.4v or lower with a stock heat sink. On top of this, they use less power. So, more cache, 250 MHz more with stock heat sink (maybe more with a better one), and more cache against an extra core. Probably for games it would be better, but not always.

    The Pentium E6500 is probably better still. Getting it to around 4 GHz wouldn't be too hard, especially with an upgraded heat sink, and is generally faster clock per clock compared to an Athlon II x2. Power use is significantly lower too.

    Neither are clearly better though. I would rather have a faster two core than a slower three core, but the latter certainly have advantages too.
    Reply