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

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

$400 Gaming PC System Test Configuration                                             

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ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUAMD Athlon II X3 440 (Rana), 3.0 GHz, 1.4 V2000 MT/s HyperTransport Link, 2000 MT/s Northbridge, No L3 CacheFour Cores, 3.210 GHz (15 x 214 MHz), 1.3125 V1926 MT/s HT Link, 2140 MT/s Northbridge
CPU CoolerAMD Boxed Heatsink And FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock M3A770DE, AMD 770/SB710, BIOS P1.50 (04/15/10)Unchanged
RAM2 GB Crucial PC3-10600 CTKIT12864BA13392 x 1 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.5 VDDR3-1426, CL 8-8-8-24 1T at 1.65 V
GraphicsPowerColor AX5670 512MD5-H Radeon HD 5670 512 MB775 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz GDDR5850 MHz GPU, 1050 MHz GDDR5
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAJS, 250 GB, 72000 RPM, 8 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerCooler Master Elite 460 RS-460-PSAR-J3 460WUnchanged
OpticalSamsung Black 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-S223CUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 10.7Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logoUnchanged
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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 Warefare 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 PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark versionTest Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: x64Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Handbrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4Convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1.0 GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPEGEnc 4.0 XpressVersion: File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.9.1Encoding 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 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
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 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
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
Sythetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.2, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • 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?