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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Performance PC

Test Settings

Test Hardware Configurations
New $2000 PCPrevious $2000 PC
Motherboard (Overclock)Asus P8P67 WS Revolution LGA 1155, Intel P67 ExpressNo BCLK OverclockGigabyte X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Express, ICH10RO/C to 176 MHz BCLK
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to to 4.80 GHz, 1.40 VIntel Core i7-950 3.06 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to to 4.05 GHz, 1.40 V
Memory (Overclock)8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1866 CL 8-9-8-246 GB Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 7-8-7-20, O/C at 1.65 V to DDR3-1760 CL 8-9-8-24
Graphics (Overclock)2 x XFX Radeon HD 6950 2 GB 800 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5000O/C to 840 MHz, GDDR5-53002 x Gigabyte HD 6870 1 GB 900 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-4200O/C to 975 MHz, GDDR5-4680
Hard Drive2 x A-Data S599 SSD, Striped 64 GB x2 (128 GB Combined) MLC, SATA 3Gb/s2 x A-Data S599 SSD, Striped 64 GB x2 (128 GB Combined) MLC, SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHBS212 BD-RE 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±RLite-On iHBS212 BD-RE 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionCorsair Graphite Series 600T
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS SilverSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B CM R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 120 mm
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 11.2AMD Catalyst 10.12
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.0.1021Intel INF 9.1.2.1007

We compared today’s $2000 machine to our most recent prior $2000 build, to gauge how much further its new hardware would take us up the performance ladder.

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, 8x AA
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Version 1.0.0.2, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64 Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes Default format AAC
Handbrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1 GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPEGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 4.7.3.292 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 (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), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
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=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8 Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • wribbs
    Was wondering when the SBM would return. Now if I just had an extra $2K. Now lets see how the lower price models hold up.

    Sure is a good time to be building a new PC.
    Reply
  • duk3
    I'd love to win one of these.
    Especially this one
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    Wow, nice system this time around. Excellent performance and efficiency, although I personally would've chosen a nicer case for a $2000 system. I know you guys have your reasons, and for the purposes of a purely price/performance oriented build it makes sense to skimp on the aesthetic qualities of a case, but for me personally, it's still nice to see a high-end case complement some high-end hardware.
    Reply
  • toxxel
    Nice system for 2k, wondering what the other systems will offer for their respective tier.
    Reply
  • sparky2010
    since the 6990 is out, wouldn't getting that one card be a legitimate choice too? isn't it also at around $600?
    Reply
  • illuminatuz
    oh wow!!! you know what if you can really think you can make a performance pc.. i mean same performance.. but lesser cost..
    i am not saying OC and AMD thing.. same hardware..
    Reply
  • dertechie
    That system looks familiar. Very familiar. Almost. . . have you been spying on me?

    I built a system exactly like that, except with an 2500K, P8P67 Pro, single 6950 2GB, single SSD, DVD rather than BD, H50 and a cheaper PSU. Tears through Metro 2033 maxed at 1920x1200 like butter. When prices on 6950s fall some more I'll add a card and see if they can handle Eyefinity.
    Reply
  • illuminatuz
    and its possible.. just take a nice gtx 560ti rather two amd sli and take 8 gig ram.. since anything above 8 gig will give diminishing returns and 500 gb hdd is more than enough i think.. buy a cheaper case, (punch holes to make it cooler :P) thats it.. same cpu same mobo and everything else same. you can also opt for cheaper 1155 mobo. i think gigabyte's got some.. or asus maybe.. no need for some two pcie and crap.. you can take a higher gpu.. say like gtx 580 or 6990.. well sli will give value if you are going for long term.. and you can install server's power.. they are cheap and of higher quality (thats what i heard from my pc vendor). i think there better be another marathon where there are the best pc at lowest cost.. that would make more sense rather giving budget.. so that people can know what they can make with the money they got.. since not all have exactly 1000$ or 2000$ there are people from other countries as well following www.tomshardware.com so keep up the good work fellas ^_^/~~
    Reply
  • tapher
    Ten-ies!

    Props on the build, dawgs. Daddy likes!

    Breath is bated for the bevy of builds to come!
    Reply
  • andy5174
    Contest is limited to residents of the USA

    not again.....
    Reply