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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $2000 Performance PC

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

While our former build drew peak graphics power using FurMark, today’s build requires 3DMark to achieve a similar load. This is because Nvidia built in circuitry to its card that intentionally throttles back under extreme duress like FurMark forces. The company (along with AMD) considers this to be an unrealistic "power bug" that could potentially damage a card, but simultaneously prevents the company from clocking its chips as high as possible. Working around the loads applied by FurMark facilitates greater performance in real-world titles.

The GeForce GTX 580 is a larger and higher-performance graphics card than the previous build’s Radeon HD 6970, even in these SLI versus CrossFire comparisons.

Increased fan speed keeps the current overclocked machine’s GPUs cool, though the same can’t be said for the previous overclock.

More graphics power helps the new system keep its lead against the previous build, even though its overclock was unsatisfactory.

A moderate performance boost paired with a minimal increase in power consumption aids the new system as it approaches the previous build’s efficiency. It doesn't quite catch up, though.

  • wrazor
    Great article. I am wondering, if instead you had gone with the EVGA 3GB GTX 570 SLI, maybe OC would have been possible? 2000$ is quite a bit of money. I wonder how these babies would hold out for Nvidia's 3D experience? Personally I am not a big 3D fan in theatres(headache and stuff), but gaming has to have a chance. You had an article on projectors gaming experience? Do it with 3d performance\eyefinity with the system marathon builds? That would be really cool. :)
    Reply
  • Yargnit
    I'm actually surprised that after the recent micro-stutter article you didn't opt for 3x 570's/6950's/6970's instead of 2x 580's. the First two should be cheaper than 2x 580's, while the third would cost very similarly.

    All three should have provided at least equal performance, and been better on intangible benefits to micro stuttering.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... a bit of stagnation in performance department... no big difference in Q2 and Q3 models... gonna wait til bulldozer...
    Reply
  • decembermouse
    Poor case decision. Inadequate PSU (did you seriously expect good overclocking results?). Nice graphics, but severely limited by the other components. Hence, "nice graphics" doesn't matter. It's like putting a V10 inside a Dodge Neon. Just... why? I make a point of using good cases even in less-expensive builds. Compromising on PSU and the case are two things I've learned are no-nos. We can see how this hurt the outcome, When any OC whatsoever results in instability, you've made a mistake (or several).

    Now I know we'll see the usual "well this is meant to be a learning experience, learn from our errors and improve for next time" comments, but these are not mistakes I expect to see Tom's writers making. Even non-uber-enthusiast readers can probably see that some of the imbalances here. No result is horrible, but I'd have expected Tom's to look at that Newegg shopping cart and immediately think "nope guys, this isn't right. This gfx setup... in an Antec 300?" etc.

    Always love these articles guys, keep them up! Even if I do disagree with some of the choices obviously ;) Really looking forward to $1k and $500 builds in the coming days!
    Reply
  • anonymous x
    decembermousePoor case decision. Inadequate PSU (did you seriously expect good overclocking results?).No, this case cools better than many (most?) cases more expensive than it. 2x 120mm intake is more than adequate for SLI cards with room for air to flow between them. Did you even look at the power consumption numbers? The system when overclocked only consumed 697w at load from the wall (actual consumption is less), while the PSU is rated at 850w.
    Reply
  • Pawessum16
    Where the heck did they get that SSD for $170????? It's $205 on Newegg, and that's after a $35 price drop. What a steal....
    Reply
  • Hupiscratch
    These SBM keep becoming cheaper. At first was 5k, then 2.5k and now is 2k for the enthusiast one. The recession is beating hard.
    Reply
  • karma831
    All I can say is...WOW you guys have bad luck with overclocking.
    Reply
  • jestersage
    maybe one of the 120mm fans should have been placed on the side panel? just wondering...
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    all i have to say is, ditch the crappy Gigabyte motherboard and get sonething better, and for the price difference get the i5 2500k, its no real loss to the i7.
    Reply