Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $1,000 Enthusiast PC

Conclusion

With a $500 budget deficit, our goal was to build a system that could keep up to the stock $1,500 build when overclocked. How did we fare? Let's have a look at the aggregate performance data:

With game performance within 5% and application performance within 10% of the stock $1,500 machine, we'll call the overclocked $1,000 system a success.

Frankly, we're very surprised that a couple of Radeon HD 5830s with a slight overclock could perform so close to a couple of Radeon HD 5850s in the gaming arena. To put things into perspective, this is only 1920x1080 game data. At 2560x1600, the Radeon HD 5850s fares much better compared to the Radeon HD 5830s. We also did leave the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat performance out of this chart because the result was bugged, and we're not sure if the graphics cards, drivers, or any number of other factors were the culprit. With Radeon HD 5830 prices dropping, these cards might take the place of the venerable Radeon HD 4890 sooner than we expected. As it stands, in every game we tested except S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, the $1,000 system was capable of playable 1920x1080 performance, even when AA was enabled.

When it comes to application performance, our overclocked and core-unlocked Phenom II X3 720 did have a hard time keeping up with the stock Core i7-920. But a 10% average performance spread isn't bad considering that the Core i7 CPU costs about three times as much as the Phenom II.

Of course, the Core i7-920 can be overclocked too, and when it is, this CPU becomes a devastating force, as our benchmarks show. But with a $500 spread, we think the $1,000 system performed about as well as we could have expected it to in comparison to the Core i7-920 platform.

We look forward to our next SBM, where we plan to build a counterpoint $1,000 system. Instead of spending the lion's share of the budget on a dual graphics card setup, we'll invest a little more in the CPU and platform. This change might make for a more livable system, but we're interested in seeing how large the performance differences are, especially in games..

  • alikum
    When you say SBM: Enthusiast System, I am expecting this to be more than just another gaming rig. You may have your own reason for sticking to a Phenom II x3 720 and HD5830 crossfire but I believe a Phenom II x4 955 and HD5770 crossfire would make more sense or more well-balanced (instead of trying your luck by unlocking cores). In fact, we could also grab a HD5870 and downgrade our mobo a little and that would make a truly well balanced enthusiast system.
    Reply
  • scrumworks
    Nice CPU choice you morons. My grandma could build a more balanced system.
    Reply
  • manitoublack
    I'm with one-shot, 6core AMD for $200 can't be beat.
    Reply
  • one-shot
    It would have been nice to see the PII X6 1055T with a moderate downgrade in GPUs to afford the higher cost of CPU and motherboard. The i7 embarrasses the PII X3.
    Reply
  • adbat
    I find it surprising that you are always successful in unlocking the 4th core
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    not a fan of the 5830's or the 720 cpu choice is all.

    Would have rather seen a dual 5770's or a 5870 with a i5-750 or a 955

    games more and more are using cpu for doing things. I also tend to use a comp for other things more then games.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Bad choice of components especially CPU and GPU
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    A phenom II 955 BE:160$+2 Xfx hd 5770sfor320$+GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H for 140$=620$ would certainly have been a better choice than your 670$ for CPU+GPU+mobo.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Tamz_mscA phenom II 955 BE:160$+2 Xfx hd 5770s for 320$+GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H for 140$=620$ would certainly have been a better choice than your 670$ for CPU+GPU+mobo.
    Reply
  • The Lady Slayer
    A Thermaltake V3 instead of the Antec 300 would have saved you $15
    Reply