Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $1000 Enthusiast PC

More Powerful Storage At The Same Budget

The results turn out to be pretty close, though we did notice a few interesting things.

Starting with application performance, despite the identical CPU clock rates, our June machine averages a couple of percentage points higher at stock speeds. This is probably due to the lower memory bandwidth we saw manifest in the Sandra synthetic benchmark.

Our new machine leaps ahead when it gets overclocked, and this probably has something to do with the increase in memory bandwidth when using the XMP memory profile. Though we know this architecture isn't particularly starved for throughput, the higher data rates and lower latencies are a potent pair.

The gaming results are also mixed. They're easier to explain, though. Two Radeon HD 6850s are a bit faster than a couple GeForce GTX 460s at stock speeds. Nvidia's cards have more overclocking headroom, though. This accounts for the increased performance when tweaked.

The moral of this story is that the SSD is here to stay. Yes, you can afford solid-state storage on a thousand-dollar budget. When you’re putting a system together, you simply can't ignore the SSD. Despite very similar application benchmarks, you really see the benefit when it comes to launching software, and PCMark 7 does a fair job of demonstrating that.

In addition, we learned that GeForce GTX 460s in SLI and Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire have similar overall performance. This is nothing new, but it’s good to put our own recommendations to the test every once in a while.

Now all we can do is wait for the last day of this System Builder Marathon, where we see how the three competing systems size up to each other. We're curious to see how the SSD affects the $1000 PC’s ability to compete with the pricer configuration in PCMark. Stay tuned!

  • aznshinobi
    Mobo is overpriced, and so is ram. The cost of the 460's you could equally get 2x6870s. PSU kinda sucks, for $1000 you can at least save else where (IE RAM+MB) and still get the Antec HCG750, while also getting 2x6870. Just personal opinion.
    Reply
  • scubba85
    Why would you go with the 750gb WD, when the samsung spinpoint f3 1tb is the same price?
    Reply
  • Zero_
    Why all the overpriced components? This is bad...

    Off the top of my head,

    1. There are a number of decent Z68 motherboards for around $130.
    2. Hyper 212+ costs $30
    3. A Corsair 2x4GB 1600MHz CL9 kit costs $50
    4. There are plenty of good 1TB drives for $55
    5. Antec Earthwatts 650W costs around $60

    And don't give me any crap about price increases over the past month. All of these have remained the same for the past 2 months.
    Reply
  • Kridian
    Where exactly on this site do they announce the winners of these contests?
    Reply
  • slicedtoad
    I'd prefer either a larger ssd or none, 30GB would be annoying.
    At the $1000 mark i'd opt for 8GB of ram, no ssd and a better hdd. And not a microATX.

    Also why isn't micro stuttering mentioned? If i remember correctly, these cards have issues with it.

    Guess that was mostly negative stuff, i liked reading it anyway though, keep em coming.
    Reply
  • decembermouse
    I like this system a lot better than yesterday's. A more balanced build. Kudos! It's always interesting to see similar setups and how they compare, for instance in this case the 6850s versus the 460s. Glad you are switching it up. I'd say you were right on the CPU front to stick with the 2500K. Nice work overclocking those GTX 460s and the CPU. And I'd say this is an appropriate chose of computer case for this kind of setup. I had my reservations about using Antec's cheapest "gaming" enclosure for the $2000 build, but this is spot on.

    Nice PSU as well. I do wonder though why you didn't go with the CX600V2, as it's 80+ Certified and sells for the same price as the CX600 (actually, a $10 MIR right now so $59.99).

    Also, and this isn't a critique but purely personal preference, I would probably forego the SSD for myself and stick with a cheap HDD like a WD Green. Loading times aren't that important to me; I'm willing to wait a few more seconds if it means I can put the $ I saved towards a better mobo, HSF, or better non-reference GPU cards. Call me crazy but I'm willing to wait a bit longer, as well as not having to worry about my OS drive wearing out, in order to get very slightly better performance/temps. I realize that drive performance is an important metric for most people though so I'm glad you are incorporating that into these modern builds. Can't wait to see the $500 one :)
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    interestingly still going for dual mid-range cards despite the whole microstuttering article you guys wrote up recommending against dual mid range cards. Better motherboard than the high end build, at least its not Gigabyte. A 30GB SSD is completely pointless, i was unaware they even made them that small. But i suppose its something different to you usual, there are so many possibilities with a mid range build. Will be more interesting to see what you can fit into the lower end build.
    Reply
  • _Pez_
    I wouldn't had chosen a pair of gtx 460 because those are not quite power efficient as pair of gtx 560 non TI would be, I would had picked up to two HDD over a SSD. Overall I like this dynamic "System Builder Marathon" that uses TH, It helps you to take better decisions.
    Reply
  • spookie
    I would get a different: motherboard (not a mAtx), hdd (samsung spinpoint 1tb), case (I don't like the look of this case) and maby a different cooler (212+)
    other than that, its a realy nice build
    Reply
  • _Pez_
    _Pez_I wouldn't had chosen a pair of gtx 460 because those are not quite power efficient as pair of gtx 560 non TI would be, I would had picked up to two HDD over a SSD. Overall I like this dynamic "System Builder Marathon" that uses TH, It helps you to take better decisions.I want to delete this comment, I made some mistakes with grammar. If I had chosen, I wouldn't have gotten a pair of ... so embarrassing..
    Reply