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

Test System And Benchmarks

Given an identical processor and overclock, our productivity-oriented tests are going to have to benefit from our SSD.

The games are installed on the same Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB hard drive as last time, so any performance differences in that segment have to be attributed to our two GeForce GTX 460s in SLI instead of the previous Radeon HD 6850 CrossFire configuration.

Current $1000 Enthusiast PC Test Settings
Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardEVGA P67 Micro SLI LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipsetUnchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2500K3.3 GHz (3.7 GHz Turbo Boost), Quad-Core, 6 MB L3 Cache4490 MHz at 1.4 V
MemoryMushkin Enhanced Redline 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR3-1600 Kit Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit, CAS 9-9-9-24-1T @ 666 MHz7-8-7-24 1T @ 800 MHz
Graphics2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1 GB  1 GB GDDR5 @ 3600 MT/sGPU @ 720 MHzGDDR5 @ 3700 MT/s GPU @ 850 MHzFan @ 100%
Hard DriveOCZ Vertex Series 30 GB SATA II SSD 30 GB, SATA 3Gb/sUnchanged
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB cache SATA 3Gb/sUnchanged
OpticalSony Optiarc DVD Burner24x DVD BurnerUnchanged
CaseRaidmax Atlas-295WBUnchanged
PowerCorsair CX600 V2 600 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-CertifiedUnchanged
June $1000 Enthusiast PC Test Settings
Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardMSI P67A-G43 LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipsetUnchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2500K3.3 GHz (3.7 GHz Turbo Boost), Quad-Core, 6 MB L3 Cache4500 MHz at 1.4 V
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit, CAS 9-9-9-22-1T @ 666 MHzUnchanged
Graphics2 x Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850  1 GB GDDR5 @ 1050 MHzGPU @ 820 MHzGDDR5 @ 1100 MHz GPU @ 875 MHz
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 750 GB 750 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB cache SATA 3Gb/sUnchanged
OpticalLG GH22MS7022x DVD BurnerUnchanged
CaseXclio NighthawkUnchanged
PowerCorsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-CertifiedUnchanged

And here's the list of benchmarks:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Just Cause 2In-game benchmark: Concrete JungleTest Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AFTest Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 9.0.3.15 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.0.0.1555: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZIPVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • 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