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System Builder Marathon, March 2012: System Value Compared

Benchmark Results: 3DMark And PCMark

3DMark helps quantify the performance of many different variables, including a system's CPU. The $2600 machine’s hexa-core processor establishes a significant advantage at the benchmark’s Entry preset. The $1300 PC’s big graphics card steps up its game at the Extreme preset. And the $650 machine struggles to keep up using lower-cost parts.

PCMark’s overall score is tremendously drive-dependent, slamming the $650 build for its use of a mechanical disk. The $2600 PC also looks somewhat bad at its default settings, but only because we were still using Intel's RSTe driver in that out-of-the-box configuration.

Reverting to Windows' AHCI storage driver gives the overclocked $2600 PC a second boost, though it never gets close to performing twice as fast as the $1300 machine.

A breakdown of a few PCMark tests helps demonstrate how well an SSD can perform. We also see where Intel's data integrity-oriented enterprise driver hampers performance, and how far mechanical hard drives trail behind. Because these tests approximate the loads we run on a frequent basis, they are also used in the hard drive rating of our average performance chart.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • sonexpc
    Looks like $650 PC can do almost everything smoothly ! Even most of the game can get over 40fps...
    which is not bad... for Just $650 ...So the first piority for gaming PC is still the Video card!
    Reply
  • MMO Fan
    nobody needs a $600 cpu
    Reply
  • shoot you
    I always love seeing the System builder articles (even though I cant build one myself for now hahahaha).

    Great as always. It sad that the Nvidia GTX 680 has yet to be considered due to availability and pricing issues hehehehe.

    Reply
  • iamauser
    Translation: we don't actually stand behind any of these builds as being worthwhile to emulate.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    iamauserTranslation: we don't actually stand behind any of these builds as being worthwhile to emulate.The $650 and $2600 PC builders loved their machines, it's just hard to recommend either of those to "everyone" or even "most people" since most of the readers really want $800-1200 machines.
    Reply
  • MMO Fan
    CrashmanThe $650 and $2600 PC builders loved their machines, it's just hard to recommend either of those to "everyone" or even "most people" since most of the readers really want $800-1200 machines.It's hard to recomend them because they just are not real good for the large outlay of cash as in the money could have been spent on better parts but instead was spent on "balancing" and pleasing the TH memebers.
    Reply
  • Wave Fusion
    I'd love to build a PC with a beefy GPU someday.
    But coming from a notebook background, I more or less have to start from scratch.

    I can use my old mouse, and my TV as a monitor. But on top of the estimated build costs listed, I also need the OS, keyboard, and likely other misc. odds and ends.

    $200 ($100 OEM) for Windows 7 is brutal.

    I also don't want to waste time on a desktop that only has a GPU advantage over the notebook.
    Desktop upgrades over even a mobile i7 is still pricey.

    Since I know my 2720QM uses the same die as desktops; it'd be swell if I could just yank it out; plug it in a desktop board and call it a 2600k. In a desktop it wouldn't have to stay in a 45W TDP

    But.. *sigh*.. the parts are locked, the sockets don't match; and a real life desktop carbon copy of my notebook is out of my budget atm.
    --
    If I could find a way to attach a 7870 to my notebook motherboard, I wouldn't have a problem with the frankenstein-ish creation.

    The 6670 just doesn't cut it sometimes
    Reply
  • MMO Fan
    Wave FusionI'd love to build a PC with a beefy GPU someday.But coming from a notebook background, I more or less have to start from scratch.I can use my old mouse, and my TV as a monitor. But on top of the estimated build costs listed, I also need the OS, keyboard, and likely other misc. odds and ends.$200 ($100 OEM) for Windows 7 is brutal. I also don't want to waste time on a desktop that only has a GPU advantage over the notebook.Desktop upgrades over even a mobile i7 is still pricey.Since I know my 2720QM uses the same die as desktops; it'd be swell if I could just yank it out; plug it in a desktop board and call it a 2600k. In a desktop it wouldn't have to stay in a 45W TDPBut.. *sigh*.. the parts are locked, the sockets don't match; and a real life desktop carbon copy of my notebook is out of my budget atm.--If I could find a way to attach a 7870 to my notebook motherboard, I wouldn't have a problem with the frankenstein-ish creation.The 6670 just doesn't cut it sometimesAny Desktop CPU this side of C2Duo will substancially out perform any Laptop CPU
    Reply
  • Crashman
    MMO fanIt's hard to recomend them because they just are not real good for the large outlay of cash as in the money could have been spent on better parts but instead was spent on "balancing" and pleasing the TH memebers.I'll explain this the way I did in your other $2600 PC comments. You're simply wrong. I can't help you understand why someone would want a PC that performs well in multiple areas. I can't help you understand why someone would want their PC to be quiet. I can't help you to understand why someone would want their PC to store more applications on the faster device. I can't help you to understand these things because you have already rejected them. Your prejudice excludes any "balanced" analysis.

    But at least you're fairly nice about it.
    Reply
  • MMO Fan
    CrashmanI'll explain this the way I did in your other $2600 PC comments. You're simply wrong. I can't help you understand why someone would want a PC that performs well in multiple areas. I can't help you understand why someone would want their PC to be quiet. I can't help you to understand why someone would want their PC to store more applications on the faster device. I can't help you to understand these things because you have already rejected them. Your prejudice excludes any "balanced" analysis.But at least you're fairly nice about it.7970 is more than "well" it is the best of the best and Fractal Design Define R3 is $100 or some $30 less than the P280 and performance better these two points I made are just for starters. If you will I could go on and build a far better machine for $2600 but you seem to think this TH $2600 "performance" build is the best when it is far from it.
    Reply