How We Tested
Test System Components
At twice the price of the Munchkin, there's little information we can glean from comparing it against builds from last quarter. However the Q1 systems were $700 and $1300, so the Munchkin will slot nicely between them.
Both of those systems feature Intel CPUs (an i3 and i7, respectively), and Intel's had the CPU efficiency crown for a while. I already know the Munchkin will get slaughtered in the productivity benchmarks. I'm not too worried about that because I built this as a LAN box. The Q1 $1300 machine has a GTX 970 as well, so this is a perfect opportunity to test my hypothesis. If I'm right and the 860K isn't a big bottleneck, we should see similar framerates between the two, especially at the higher detail levels.
I've done something a little different this time in calculating system cost. I've tallied the total cost for each system into Complete System, Hardware Only, Performance Parts, and Core Components categories. Core Components includes the CPU, CPU cooler, motherboard, RAM, GPU, system drive, and power supply. The Performance Parts category take the Core group and adds the case. My reasoning on this is that the case is an integral part of system cooling and directly responsible for the overclocks achieved. The Hardware Only category should be self-explanatory, and the Complete System total includes the OS.
|System Comparison Components|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Q3 2015 $800 Munchkin||Q1 2015 $700 Budget Gaming PC||Q1 2015 $1300 Enthusiast PC|
|Processor||AMD Athlon X4 860K: 3.7 GHz-4.0 GHz, Four Cores, No L3||Intel Core i3-4150: 3.5GHz, Two Cores, 3 MB Cache||Intel Core i7-4790K: 4.0GHz-4.4GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB Cache|
|CPU Cooler||AMD Boxed Heatsink and Fan||Intel Boxed Heatsink and Fan||Zalman CNPS9900MAX-B|
|Motherboard||ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+: FM2+/FM2, AMD A88X, Mini ITX||ASRock H81M-HDS: LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express||MSI Z97 PC Mate: LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express|
|Graphics||Asus TURBO-GTX970-OC-4GD5 GeForce GTX 970 4GB||SAPPHIRE DUAL-X 100373L Radeon R9 280 3GB||ASUS Strix STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 GTX 970 4GB|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport BLS2KIT4G3D1609DS1S00: DDR3-1600 C9, 8GB (2 x 4GB)||G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 C9, 8GB (2 x 4GB)||G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-2133 C9, 8GB (2 x 4GB)|
|System Drive||WD Blue WD10EZEX; 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5" HDD||WD Blue WD10EZEX; 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5" HDD||PNY Optima SSD7SC240GOPT-RB: 2.5" 240GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD|
|Power||Corsair CX500M 500W Modular, ATX12V, 80 PLUS Bronze||EVGA 100-W1-0500-KR: 500W, 80 PLUS (standard)||EVGA 600B 100-B1-0600-KR: 600W, 80 PLUS Bronze|
|Case||Cooler Master 130 Elite Mini ITX||NZXT Source 210 Elite Black||Cooler Master HAF XB Evo|
|Total Performance Components Cost||$695||$569||$1,114|
|Storage Drive||Uses System Drive||Uses Sustem Drive||WD Blue WD10EZEX; 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5" HDD|
|Optical Drive||Asus DRW-24F1ST: 24x DVD±R, 48X CD-R||Asus DRW-24B1ST 24x DVD±R||Pioneer BDC-207DBK 8x BRD Reader, 16x DVD±R|
|Total Hardware Cost||$707||$589||$1,214|
|OS||Windows 8.1 X64 OEM||Windows 8.1 X64 OEM||Windows 8.1 X64 OEM|
|Complete System Price||$797||$689||$1,314|
As with my motherboard reviews, I set this machine to stock clocks, enabled AMD Cool'n'Quiet and other energy saving features, and set the CPU fan to maximum. I use Windows default "Performance" power option preset for everything except idle power consumption where it's set to "Balanced."
|Battlefield 4||Version 220.127.116.11, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO|
|Grid 2||Version 18.104.22.16879, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA|
|Arma 3||Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF|
|Far Cry 3||V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO|
|Adobe Creative Suite|
|Adobe After Effects CC||Version 22.214.171.1244: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly|
|Adobe Photoshop CC||Version 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates|
|Adobe Premeire Pro CC||Version 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality|
|iTunes||Version 126.96.36.199 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format|
|Lame MP3||Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)|
|Handbrake CLI||Version: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48000 Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)|
|TotalCodeStudio 2.5||Version: 188.8.131.5277: MPEG-2 to 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), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV|
|ABBYY FineReader||Version 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages|
|Adobe Acrobat 11||Version 184.108.40.2069: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2013||Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Blender||Version: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1|
|WinZip||Version 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"|
|WinRAR||Version 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"|
|7-Zip||Version 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"|
|Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings|
|3DMark Professional||Version: 220.127.116.11 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark|
|PCMark 8||Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks|
Aside from that its nice to see an AMD platform in ITX.
Intel CPU & Nvidia GPU system
Intel CPU & AMD GPU system
AMD CPU & Nvidia GPU system
AMD CPU & AMD GPU system
at the same price at the same time
From the article
Speaking of which, it is about time 'management' recognise that ODDs are no longer mandatory. I built a machine 5 years ago with an ODD and have used it only 3 times in those 5 years, and those occasions only because I couldn't be bothered to go downstairs to get my keys with their attached USB stick. On one of those occasions I had to take an external ODD with me as my friend didn't have any ODD of his own!
Aside from all that, Eric, this is a really great SBM experiment and your writing style is a pleasure to read. Thank you.
also, on the optical drive front, i see no reason not to include one.
if you want to talk music, depending on the band, its cheaper to buy used cd's than it is to buy the songs individually, and its far cheaper to buy a used dvd/bluray than to even rent a movie or tv series, some exceptions can be made if you have netflix dvd/bluray delivery, but even than, a 4 disc or 6 disc season would cost you something like 5-8$ to rent and likely the same to buy and have it shipped for free.
personally, i have a bluray burner that i use quite a bit, and i have a dvd drive that till it broke was almost constantly used... its hooked up to an IDE cable, and the last time i messed with one of those the computer wouldn't go passed the bios anymore... so i dont take it out just because i dont want my computer to screw up in a way i dont know how to fix...
lets also say you want to legitimately buy games, you can get in box on the pc games for cheaper than digital most of the time, and when a game goes on sale digitally, you can get them used on the pc for cheaper, though you probably won't line up with the eula if you go that route.
i would at the very least love to see a drive bay case in all builds like this, but the drive itself does not need to be there, a decent compromise or in the case of you absolutely do not want to have an internal drive space, than make an annotated price that shows what it would cost to hook one up... i believe an external sata ide interface is able to run dvd/bluray drives along with hdds (i had to get one when 2 of my external drive cases failed on me, cheaper getting one 20$ thing opposed to 2 cases, one for each interface.
In terms of the first version of the Munchkin, I asked management if I could just include a regular internal drive ( even though the case couldn't fit it ), and just say the user would have to use it from the bench before the case was closed up. They wouldn't go for it. ;)
Thank you. I know I tend to get a bit verbose, but I wanted this to be kind of like a narrative.
The problem with it is that it's largely made up of synthetics. Synthetic benches are great for hardware testing because they can be more strenuous and use every new feature and instruction set. That means they can show off strengths and weaknesses better.
However, for the SBM we also want to use real-world software to get real-world-applicable results. That means we use things like MS Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, iTunes, and code compilers. You could run the same tests on your machine, but you'd have to have the exact same software as well as the same project files and such. I don't think it's some super Tom's Hardware secret exactly what we use, we just don't want to host a 200 GB image that contains the files and instructions how to use it.
As I said, for myself I usually use an ODD. However, I will recognize that not everyone wants or needs one. If you're fortunate to have a good internet connection, downloading games and software isn't a problem. Someone who lives in the boonies and doesn't have a fat pipe, or that has a metered connection, doesn't want to deal with 20GB downloads. With the Munchkin as a LAN box, I didn't think an ODD was necessary. Ten years ago when I was going to LANs more regularly, sharing a game disc to get everyone a copy so we could all play it was common. If you go to a LAN party now, most files will be shared over network or via USB stick.
I don't agree with the idea that every SBM case must have an external bay. Getting an external USB ODD is easy enough for those cases and machines. An external drive also has the benefit of being portable so you can share it among all your home computers.