System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 And Crysis

The moment of truth has arrived, as we now turn attention towards the little machine’s gaming prowess.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 offers impressive visuals on modest graphics hardware, and the stock $400 PC has no problem playing at 1080p and the highest detail levels. The system is far more GPU-limited than the June PC, and the insignificant 7% performance increase falls in line with our 10% GPU and 5% VRAM overclock.

The $400 PC handles the added demands of 4x AA quite well, but does cause this quarter's build to fall further behind the more powerful June gaming rig that never fell below 60 fps minimum.

Averaging 47 fps with a 37 fps minimum may very well put the stock $400 PC below what some gamers are willing to accept from a competitive shooter. But most Radeon HD 5670 owners are probably quite thrilled about how well their card handles this game at maximized settings. While this game’s demands represent realistic performance for so many popular titles, unfortunately, the remainder of our gaming suite is far more brutal on the graphics hardware.

The stock $550 PC handles high details in Crysis fairly well up to a 1680x1050 resolution, but the $400 PC already bombs at all our normal SBM resolutions. Overclocking helps enable a fairly decent 720p experience at high details. However, resolutions above this require lowering some graphics settings.

Not even the overclocked Radeon HD 5770 mustered playable performance, so it’s no surprise our current Radeon HD 5670 is crushed at very high details. While 720p is out the question for the $400 PC, we imagine the $550 PC might have handled this combination of settings last quarter.

  • SpadeM
    Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.

    +1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
  • AMW1011
    I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

    Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

    Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
  • micr0be
    very nice build, interesting to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the budget. i was expecting worse results.
  • nevertell
    Conclusion ?

    150$ buys you a lot better gaming capabilities, and nothing else.
  • Gamer-girl
    It went $1 over-budget if we substituted in a GeForce 9800 GT.

    I doubt someone spending $400 can't afford to add an extra dollar. although i realize that the point in these articles is to stay under the budget, it would have been interesting to see the price/perforamce difference.
  • haplo602
    nice case, looks very good ... pity that rosewill does not have a downloadable manual for it ...
  • HibyPrime
    I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?

    I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.
  • Proximon
    The Cooler Master Elite 460 is a falsely labeled piece of crap. You can find the review (with proper testing) here:

    You'll have to spend a little bit more there. Rosewill has a 430W (RG430 S12) unit or the Antec Neo 400W is almost the same price as the CM after a discount and rebate.
  • Proximon
    Clicked once but got a double post somehow.
  • What do the best price/performance we can have?