System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: Mainstream Enthusiast PC

Results: Battlefield 4, Arma 3, Grid 2 And Far Cry 3

Battlefield 4

Replacing its predecessor in our bench suite, Battlefield 4 also tends to be limited by the graphics subsystem. CPU performance plays a more prominent role at lower resolutions and detail levels, though. For those of you done with this game's single-player campaign, big multi-player maps are processor-bound as well. In the real world, you'll get even more benefit from a faster CPU than these tests indicate.

We expected the GeForce GTX 970 to do much better than the 770, and it does, especially at the highest resolutions and detail settings.

Arma 3

Arma 3 demands a lot from graphics hardware as you increase the game's resolution beyond 1080p. The GeForce GTX 970 excels under the Ultra detail preset, while the more mainstream High setting exposes a smaller delta between graphics cards. We suspect some other subsystem is responsible as details get turned down, though we're confident Intel's Core i7 positively affects performance.

Grid 2

Like most of Codemasters' racing titles, Grid 2 is platform-limited at all but the highest resolutions and detail levels. In fact, it's so sensitive to memory bandwidth that my new build suffers a loss at default settings when the High-quality preset is used. Stepping up to Ultra with 8x MSAA enabled shifts the bottleneck over to graphics. The GeForce GTX 970 shows its maximum benefit at triple-monitor 4900x900 and 5760x1080 resolutions.

Far Cry 3

More than any other game in our benchmark suite, Far Cry 3 leans heavily on graphics cards and is far less dependent on the host processor and memory. Nevertheless, the Core i7 still helps augment performance in single-monitor resolutions. At 4800x900 and 5760x1080 using Ultra quality, both graphics cards struggle with this demanding game engine.

  • hausman
  • Grognak
    Your builds are getting more and more expensive.
  • tom10167
    Looks pretty good but get a Black Series for $20 more
  • g-unit1111
    Honestly I would go optical drive less and get a H440 or something similar. Was it a requirement to spend $50 on the blu-ray burner?
  • damric
    Dear God, why another junk Compucase PSU?

    And why a PNY SSD? Save the packaging for that. You will need it for RMA.

    With a budget that large there is no room for parts with high failure rates.
  • de5_Roy
    nice build. my only nitpick is about the motherboard. would choosing a xeon e3 12xx v3 have led to better mobo and/or gfx card and/or psu?
  • cknobman
    Waiting for the day one of you SBM folks take your panties off and skips the optical drive.

    We have reached the day and age where optical drives are really not necessary and just eat into budget for more useful things.
  • des99
    how does the math add up?
    $925 Performace hardware +
    $240 case, os and optical $240
  • pepsimtl
    I think cpu I5 K whill do the same job for gamer and least expensive :)
    This motherboard color is so ugly ( same color 1985 pc ) and all the component except for memory . Just look inside the computer depress me
  • Onus
    Given the power numbers (which I think you know enough to have anticipated), even a 450W Rosewill Capstone would have sufficed. I just don't see an EVGA "B" series making it into an enthusiast build; ever.
    I also really don't like seeing 1.65V RAM. Perhaps 1.6V, but allowing for how different motherboards may tweak RAM for stability, already running at 1.65V seems like more of a risk to the Intel IMC than is worthwhile. I'd really prefer to keep at the standard 1.5V.