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System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build

Test Settings

We wanted to include 2560x1600 benchmarks in this comparison so that we could emphasize the more powerful graphics processors of our previous $2000 build. Doing so precludes the System Builder Marathon’s $400 build however, since it wasn’t tested at this super-high resolution.

Test Hardware Configurations
New/Alternative $2000 PCOriginal $2000 PCOriginal $1000 PC
Motherboard (Overclock)Gigabyte X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Express, ICH10RO/C to 188 MHz BCLKMSI NF980-G65 Nvidia nForce 980a SLIO/C to 288 MHz Ref. Clk.Asus P7P55D-E LX Chipset: Intel P55 ExpressO/C to 178 MHz BCLK
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-970 3.2 GHz, Six Physical CoresO/C to to 4.0 GHz, 1.30VAMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8 GHz, Six CoresO/C to 4.0 GHz at 1.43 VIntel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz, Four CoresO/C to 3.75 GHz at 1.36 V
Memory (Overclock)6 GB Mushkin DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1400, CL 8-8-8-248 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333 CL 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V to DDR3-1533, CL 7-7-6-204 GB Crucial DDR3-1333 CL 9-9-9-24, U/C at 1.50 V to DDR3-1070, CL 8-8-8-22
Graphics (Overclock)2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 460 763 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3800O/C to 845MHz, GDDR5-42002 x MSI GeForce GTX 480 700 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3696O/C to 816 MHz, GDDR5-4132MSI GeForce GTX 470 607 MHz GPU, GDDR5-3348O/C to 690 MHz, GDDR5-3380
Hard DriveSamsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/sSamsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/sWestern Digital WD36401AALS 640 GB, 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s
OpticalLite-On iHAS124 24x DVD±R, 48X CD-RLite-On iHAS124 24x DVD±R, 48X CD-RLite-On iHAS124 24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R
CaseAntec Three Hundred IllusionSilverStone Raven RV02-BWAntec Three Hundred
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT 850 W, 80 PLUS SilverCooler Master Silent Pro RSA00-AMBAJ3-US 1000 W Modular, 80 PLUS BronzeCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W, 80 PLUS Standard
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)Cooler Master Hyper TX3 (RR-910-HTX3-G1)
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
raphicsNvidia Forceware 258.96Nvidia Forceware 258.96Nvidia Forceware 258.96
ChipsetIntel INF MCP INF

The $1000 build that so badly disgraced our previous $2000 PC was kept around for today’s roundup, with hopes that the inclusion of high-resolution gaming tests might boost the expensive system’s value score.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS) Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
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
DiRT 2Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
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: 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 (1GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 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 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
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)
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=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8 Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, 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
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Randomacts
    Yay more giveaways!
  • tacoslave
    should have just gone with a i7 920 and stuck a 5970 which would have been cheaper
  • duk3
    I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.
    With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.
  • Crashman
    duk3I agree, however, this SBM was about 6-core performance.With an i7-930, a better heatsink, 2 470s and maybe an extra fan or 2 for the case is in reach.yes, the i7-930 and a couple 470's would be normal in the SBM $2000 PC.
  • cojj
    how do I enter for the giveaway?
  • Crashman
    cojjhow do I enter for the giveaway?Click the link in the announcement?
  • IzzyCraft
    I guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone Raven
  • Crashman
    IzzyCraftI guess these were more performance driven choices. I still will miss the case, i'd gladly trade a 920/930 for the SilverStone RavenQuality-wise, the Three Hundred is probably the best case you can get for under $80, but there should have been one more fan in the system given the internally-vented graphics cards the system ended up with. On the other hand, a lot of builders would be more than happy to "settle for" 4GHz at 1.30V, and the CPU will certainly live longer at the lower voltage.
  • brisingamen
    i prefer the six core gtx 480 sli rig.
  • pinkfloydminnesota
    A 970 and a drop to 460s? Are you kidding me? How much is newegg dropping in ad revenue for you to help them dump this overpriced stock?