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System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $550 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

$550 Gaming PC System Test Configuration

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Settings
CPUAMD Athlon II X3 435 (Rana), 2.90 GHz2,000 MHz HyperTransport Link, 2,000 MHz Northbridge, No L3 Cache3.556 GHz (14x 254 MHz), 1.488V2,032 MHz HyperTransport Link, 2,540 MHz Northbridge
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper TX3Unchanged
MotherboardAsus M4A77TDAMD 770/SB710, BIOS V2007 (04/14/10)Unchanged
RAM2GB Crucial PC3-10600 CTKIT12864BA13392 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.5VDDR3-1355, CL 8-8-8-24 at 1.6V
GraphicsPowerColor AX5770 1GBD5-H Radeon HD 5770 1GB850 MHz GPU, 1,200 MHz GDDR5910 MHz GPU, 1,410 MHz GDDR5
Hard DriveSamsung Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ500GB, 7,200 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerCooler Master eXtreme Power Plus RS-500-PCAR-A3 500WUnchanged
OpticalSamsung Black 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-S223CUnchanged
Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphic DriverAMD Catalyst 10.4Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD 770/SB710 Chipset Rev. 636.02Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark toolTest Set 1: High Quality, No AATest Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
DiRT 2In-game benchmark, DX11Test Set 1: High Quality, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AATest Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call Of PripyatS.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark versionTest Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
HandBrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4Convert first .vob file from "The Last Samurai" (1GB) to .MP4, High Profile
TMPEGEnc 4.0 XpressVersion: 4.7.3.292Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 9.6.1Encoding mode: Insane QualityEnhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version 11.0 Extended (64-bit)Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates filters
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.2, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • 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