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System Builder Marathon, June 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

Current $500 Gaming PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Setting
CPUIntel Core i3-2100 (Sandy Bridge), 3.1 GHz (31 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, power savings enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel retail boxed heatsink & fanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock H61M-VS Intel H61, BIOS P1.00 (03-04-11)Unchanged
RAM4 GB Crucial PC3-10600 kit 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.5 VDDR3-1333, CL 8-8-8-24 1T at 1.60 V
GraphicsSapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB 775 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz (4000 MT/s) Memory850 MHz GPU, 1150 MHz (4600 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Six-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec EarthWatts Green 380 WUnchanged
OpticalAsus 24x DVD Burner SATA DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/ASUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.5Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 6-series Inf v. 9.2.0.1021Unchanged
March 2011 $500 PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUAMD Phenom II X4 925 (Deneb), 2.8 GHz, 1.35 V 2000 MT/s HyperTransport Link, 2000 MT/s CPU-NB, 6 MB L3 Cache3.402 GHz (14 x 243 MHz), 1.3V 1944 MT/s HT Link, 2187 MT/s CPU-NB
CPU CoolerAMD boxed heatsink/fan, 60-100% target  RPM80-100% target RPM
MotherboardASRock M3A770DE AMD 770/SB710, BIOS P1.70 (09/17/10)Unchanged
RAM4 GB G.Skill PC3-10600 kit 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.5 VDDR3-1296, CL 8-8-8-24 1T at 1.59 V
GraphicsSapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB 775 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz (4000 MT/s) Memory800 MHz GPU, 1100 MHz (4400 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSamsung Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec EarthWatts Green 380 WUnchanged
OpticalLite-On 24x DVD Burner SATA iHAS 124-04Unchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.1Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logoUnchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
F1 2010V.1.01, Direct X 11, -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Steam Version, Built-in Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Custom Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Steam Version, Built-In Benchmark Test Set 1: High, DX11, AAA, 4x AF, No DoF, No PhysX Test Set 2: Very High, DX11, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, DoF, No PhysX
Audio/Video Encoding
Handbrake CLIVersion 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Min., Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion 9.0.3.15 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)
Mainconcept ReferenceVersion: 2.0.0.1555: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
Sythetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1, Entry, Performance, Extreme Suite
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.2.17.36, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • Zero_
    Is it just me or does anyone get a feeling that the SBM rigs are being sold for advertising? :kaola:

    The X4 955 costs $15 less like you said, and allows overclocking even with stock, and $60 would buy a much better equipped AMD board. Also, $185 gets you a HD6870 these days.

    Result? Better FPS per $ for the same price. TBH, that's what I was expecting. I am disappoint.
    Reply
  • spotminer
    Seagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB, SATA 6Gb/s

    yet the motherboard has only 4 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s connectors.

    How would you utilize the maximum potential of the hard disk then?
    Reply
  • striker410
    spotminerSeagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB, SATA 6Gb/s yet the motherboard has only 4 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s connectors.How would you utilize the maximum potential of the hard disk then?Because HDD's cannot saturate even the Sata 3.0Gb/s line. They run at around 120MB/s, but sata II can handle up to 280MB/s or so. It's a cash grab. Means nothing for HDD's.
    Reply
  • spotminer
    striker410Because HDD's cannot saturate even the Sata 3.0Gb/s line. They run at around 120MB/s, but sata II can handle up to 280MB/s or so. It's a cash grab. Means nothing for HDD's.
    I see thanks.
    Reply
  • compton
    I can only hope that the rumor that Intel is currently prepping a K series i3 is true. I'm using a 2500k now, but I think an i3-k would kick ass in the spare 1155 board I've got laying around.

    As far as the June budget build goes, it's really just an alternated Intel flavored version of the March build. As such, some hopeful budget builders may find reasons to go either route. Maybe the best argument against going AMD for the $500 build is the impending release of Llano and Bulldozer. It doesn't make much sense to put together an AMD system at this time -- even if you're looking at the budget area. The Phenom II will continue to be a good value especially if you're updating an older AMD system. It's not that the Phenom/Athlon is so slow as much as Intel's SB is just plain fast and efficient.

    I want an unlocked i3 Intel... please make it happen.
    Reply
  • buzznut
    An unlocked i3, that would be cool. I might even buy one, AMD fan that I am!
    Reply
  • lott11
    It looks like someone was doing a all Intel promo.
    What software can utilize hyper threaded cores.
    Not on any gamers PC'S much less on MS 64 bit at an entry level.
    Granted at high end, they do make a great deal of difference but not at entry level.
    And since when is power conservation a consideration for a gamer.
    Reply
  • Zero_
    An i3 k model coming out about now would effectively kill AMD at this price point. If you get a good OC'able processor now, odds are you wont be changing platforms in a couple of months.
    Reply
  • mightymaxio
    lott11It looks like someone was doing a all Intel promo.What software can utilize hyper threaded cores.Not on any gamers PC'S much less on MS 64 bit at an entry level.Granted at high end, they do make a great deal of difference but not at entry level.And since when is power conservation a consideration for a gamer.
    Um lets see, unreal 3 can use hyperthreading, battlefield bad company 2 and battlefield 3 take advantage of hyperthreading, many games such as wow now take advantage of it. Need i go on.
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    zero_Is it just me or does anyone get a feeling that the SBM rigs are being sold for advertising? The X4 955 costs $15 less like you said, and allows overclocking even with stock, and $60 would buy a much better equipped AMD board. Also, $185 gets you a HD6870 these days.Result? Better FPS per $ for the same price. TBH, that's what I was expecting. I am disappoint.I still think the i3-2100 was the right choice...

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-core-i3-2100-phenom-ii-x6-1075t,2859-10.html
    For a gaming oriented build at this price point, these lower end Sandy Bridge processors can't be beat. Even when you factor in the overclocking potential of similarly priced AMD processors (Phenom II X4 955 or 965) I don't think it's enough to defeat the i3-2100 in the games where it matters most. Even when it comes to multitasking and and multithreaded workloads, the dual-core Sandy Bridge is still very performance competitive, which is kind of sad from an architectural standpoint (quad-thread i3 vs quad-core Phenom II).

    If this build were targeted at workstation applications however, I think you could definitely make the argument that AMD offers a viable alternative with the additional cores. But again, this is a gaming oriented build.
    Reply