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System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC

Test System And Benchmarks

Now that we’ve looked at our choices and justifications in detail, let’s recap our components one more time before getting into the benches :

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo E85003.16 GHz, FSB-1333, 6 MB Cache4.25 GHz (9.5x 448 MHz), FSB-17921.3 V Core
CPU CoolerXigmatek HDT-S1283Xigmatek HDT-S1283
MotherboardDFI Lanparty X38Intel X38, BIOS 6.00 (10/03/2008)Northbridge Voltage : 1.30 V
RAM4.0 GB PNY XLR8 2x 2,048 MB, DDR2-800, CL 4-4-4-12 at 1.80 V2x 2048 MB, DDR2-896, CL 5-5-5-14 at 1.90 V
GraphicsPowercolor Radeon 4870 X2 2x ATI 4870 GPU , 750 MHz2x 1024 MB GDDR5 (Per Card) 900 MHz777 MHz GPU, GDDR5 (950 MHz)
Hard DrivesWestern Digital Caviar black 640GD640 GB, 7,2000 RPM, 32 MB CacheUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec Neo 650W ATX 12 V/EPS 12 V, 57A between three 12 V RailsUnchanged
OpticalLITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04Unchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate 32-bit, SP1Unchanged
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 8.11 32-bit EditionUnchanged
Onboard Device DriversDFI Lanparty DK X38/X48 v .001Unchanged

You know the hardware, you know the overclock, so let’s have a detailed look look at the benchmarks and settings before we scrutinize the results.

CrysisVersion : 1.2.1, Video Quality : Very High Details, Demo : CPU-Benchmark + Tom’s Hardware Tool
Supreme CommanderForged AllianceVersion : 1.5.3599, Video Quality : Highest Settings, Demo : WallaceTX_006_006, Benchmark : Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3Version : 1.2, Sound and DirectX10, Texture Details : 5, Level Details : 5, Demo : vCTF-Reflection_bot, Time : 12/60
World in ConflictVersion :, Video Quality : Very High details, Demo : Game-Benchmark
iTunesVersion :, Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min, Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version : 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007), Audio CD ""Terminator II SE, 53 min, wave to MP3, 160kb/s
TMPEG 4.5Version :, Import File : Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution : 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode : Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio : MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode : PAL (25 FPS), Profile : Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9Version : 9.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version : 10.0x20070321, Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-Photo, Benchmark : Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4, Filters : Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e, Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version : 8.0.134, Virus base : 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark : Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
Winrar 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8, WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark : THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2, Compression = Best, Benchmark : THG-Workload (139 MB)
3DMark VantageVersion : 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion : 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
    yea for that kind of money i would definatly be buying a entry lvl core i7 920 setup with ddr3 1333, 3gb memory. for gaming, maybe go with a 4870, but in my opinion a geforce 260 or 280 would be better, because it's powerfull with games and you can use CUDA. cuda is really taking off tmperg has a video encoding software withat uses the graphics card, and it gives you a +400% to rendering video and such. such as bluray- and DVD encoding
  • theblade
    Nice build, good performer for the price, looking forward for the next article.
    It would be great to see an article in which several options of cooling would be compared to see which one gives a better overclock using the 8500 or 8600, including air and water cooling, this chips are awesome to do some OC.
  • craig hallworth
    I'd be interested to see the GTX 260 (216) in SLI on the mid range build as the price for two is a bit more but still comparable with the 4870x2 and, from what I've read, should be more powerful than the radeon card.

    I don't know that you can consider the i7 a mid range platform when you have to spend ~350-400 bucks on the montherboard alone. I'd certainly use the i7 for the high end build though.

    Thank you for your efforts.
  • gallesol
    There are some of us who who receive a great deal of disconfort thinking of Intel as the only microprocessor manufacturer around. If for no other reason than to maintain some competition in this critical industry, please include an AMD based system.
  • marraco
    It look like you never waited crysis to load.

    ... and the power is far overkilling. It could be saved money on it
  • Rifte
    Would of liked to see a direct comparison to the $625 build in all but the gaming benches. Is the more expensive mobo, ram, cpu combo worth it?
    Put the 4850 in the $1250 system then do some game benches or put the 4870x2 in the $625 system.
  • derek_c
    I would definitely like to see a Core i7 configuration next time.
  • Rifte
    $276 vs $467 for a 5-8% increase in performance?

    direct comparison

    $1250 $625 %dif
    Itunes 00:49 00:52 +6.1%
    lame 01:30 01:36 +6.6%
    TMPGE 04:46 05:04 +6.2%
    Xvid 02:26 02:52 +17.8%
    Mainconcept 03:04 03:17 +7.1%
    Photoshop 01:12 01:15 +4.2%
    3d Studio 00:45 00:49 +8.8%
    Average +8.1%
    Price diff for cpu,ram,mobo +69%
  • 3lvis
    For the next build I would like to see an i7 920, a gigabyte extreme x58 board, 6GB of Gskill DDR3 1333 PC 10666 with cas 7, a pair of 4870x2's water cooled and 2,3,and 4 64GB Gskill SSD's in raid 0. As the price of SSD's comes down, my interest in how a bunch of them in Raid 0 perform goes up(inversely proportionally).
  • radguy
    I think I would have picked up a cheaper p45 board and used the extra cash to pick up a couple of fans to help with the cooling issues. Otherwise pretty nice gaming build. I don't know if Enthusiast is the name I would use with 530 bucks going to graphics but thats me. Appreciate the info. Nice to kinda be able to compare the E2180 E5200 E8500 and Q6600 all at stock and oc'ed. Core i7 would be nice to add to the list as well as phenom in your upcoming builds.