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System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: Value Comparison

Introduction

System Builder Marathon Q3 2015

Here are links to each of the five articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

  1. $800 AMD Mini PC
  2. $800 Gaming PC
  3. $800 Prosumer PC
  4. Value Comparison

Value Comparison

Rather than pit three builders against each other at three different points, we took a break last quarter from our typical SBM modus operandi to focus only on the high-end. This week we’ve set right the things that went wrong last quarter.

Starting with three highly experienced system builders, we’d cut the budget in half for each machine just to make parts selection extra difficult. Compact case contributor Chris Miconi chose to focus on graphics, I chose to focus on CPU performance, and motherboard contributor Eric Vander Linden decided to tackle both fronts with a multi-core AMD platform. I up-sized the motherboard when I found a better deal on an ATX case, while Chris kept his big case even after finding a better deal on a Micro ATX motherboard. Understanding the limits of his hardware, Eric chose to go with Mini ITX from the outset. A potential win by the smallest machine might feel particularly rewarding, though we’ve already been there and done that.

  • TNT27
    Console PC ~ 300-400$ build, Average Pc 800, and 1600$ ultimate
    Reply
  • Crashman
    How about we throw out the budget limits next time and ask everybody to fix all the problems with their current build specs? We'd still need to compete for value, so the "no budget" part should still yield machines in the $900 to $1200 range, because once you go "too far" you start to loose the "price/performance" math.
    Reply
  • TNT27
    16706286 said:
    How about we throw out the budget limits next time and ask everybody to fix all the problems with their current build specs?

    Im kool with that!
    Reply
  • synphul
    I can appreciate the results of these specific systems in terms of performance but I'm seeing some serious flaws here. The 'gaming' build opted for an ssd which has little impact on gaming performance and settled for a lower end gpu while the amd mini build went with a gaming gpu and ditched the ssd? No wonder the amd mini system got best marks for performance/price in gaming. It would have been a much different story the other way around.

    Unfortunately prices are volatile and some of the prices listed aren't accurate. The gtx 970 used in the amd mini build must have been having an incredible sale as it's still offering a rebate card and yet right now on newegg it's $325 ($305 with rebate) which alone blows the $800 budget. I was thinking the newegg links automatically updated to reflect current pricing via newegg's site but it doesn't appear to.

    Similarly I don't recall the wd blue 1tb being close to $70, most times in pc partpicker it's around $48-52 and currently on newegg it's $53. If that gtx 970 were actually $250 it could've been added to the i3 gaming build but at it's actual price blows the budget. Then again it blows the amd mini pc budget based on current price anyway.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I like the idea of seeing what would happen if the current builds were "fixed." This will give useful information on the future-resistance of each build.
    Otherwise, three machines at the same budget has provided some excellent data points. IMHO, this is the best SBM we have seen in a good while now. They're one of my favorite features of the site, and this quarter's series was exceptional.
    Another idea would be to keep the same purposes (and budgets) for which these three PCs were built, but randomly assign each one to a different builder; same purpose, same budget, ok who wins?
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    I'd like to propose lowering the budget to $400 and aiming the "gaming" and "HTPC" builds to 1080p. Have a "pro" PC build to target pro and casual gaming workloads with a resoluion of 1440p.
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    How about we throw out the budget limits next time and ask everybody to fix all the problems with their current build specs? We'd still need to compete for value, so the "no budget" part should still yield machines in the $900 to $1200 range, because once you go "too far" you start to loose the "price/performance" math.
    In my estimation, (read: guess ;-) slap a Fury or a Fury X on the AMD mini PC and the "gaming" PC and you're pretty much done. That falls within the $900 - $1200 price range.

    I guess the builders could also do a Crossfire or SLI experiment if they really wanted to test out wild ideas (or heck, just look around for a cheap 295X2 :-)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16706789 said:
    I like the idea of seeing what would happen if the current builds were "fixed." This will give useful information on the future-resistance of each build.
    Otherwise, three machines at the same budget has provided some excellent data points. IMHO, this is the best SBM we have seen in a good while now. They're one of my favorite features of the site, and this quarter's series was exceptional.
    Another idea would be to keep the same purposes (and budgets) for which these three PCs were built, but randomly assign each one to a different builder; same purpose, same budget, ok who wins?
    Randomly...but we each picked our own, it's not as if Eric was assigned the gaming build just because he's filling in for game-system-builder Paul :)

    Reply
  • Aspiring techie
    How about we throw out the budget limits next time and ask everybody to fix all the problems with their current build specs? We'd still need to compete for value, so the "no budget" part should still yield machines in the $900 to $1200 range, because once you go "too far" you start to loose the "price/performance" math.
    I like it! I'd like to see what would happen if the builder can spend whatever he wants. One thing I have never seen here is a build that is completely and totally overkill. That would be cool to see.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16706970 said:
    How about we throw out the budget limits next time and ask everybody to fix all the problems with their current build specs? We'd still need to compete for value, so the "no budget" part should still yield machines in the $900 to $1200 range, because once you go "too far" you start to loose the "price/performance" math.
    I like it! I'd like to see what would happen if the builder can spend whatever he wants. One thing I have never seen here is a build that is completely and totally overkill. That would be cool to see.
    We started out with a completely overkill $4400 build the first time. No OS in the price either :) Everyone hated it.
    Reply