System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Crysis And Unreal Tournament 3

3D Games: Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3

We see how GPU limited we have been with Crysis at very high details, as this month's stock PC manages to outperform last month’s overclocked machine.

By overclocking the Radeon HD 4870 and E5200, we are finally approaching playable frame rates at our lowest resolution. 

Adding even more demands to the GPU by enabling 4x anti-aliasing (AA), this month's PC stretches its lead and reaches 30 frames per second (FPS) at low resolution, which is about the same FPS rate we saw last month without AA. 

As always, we run a few more realistic settings for Crysis to better highlight a Crysis gaming experience at this budget. At medium details, we are CPU limited and last month’s system wins at every resolution at stock clock speeds. At high details, we see a shift from CPU limitation to GPU limitation, but December’s system loses 13 FPS at 1920x1200, while the January PC only takes a 6 FPS hit.  Overclocked, the January/February system manages a 5-7 FPS lead at each resolution, averaging 42 FPS at 1680x1050.

Things are clearly CPU limited in UT3 and this month’s system fails to surpass the performance seen last month. Of course, both systems are easily playable at all resolutions.

We still see very playable performance with AA and anisotropic filtering (AF) forced in the drivers, but notice how at stock speeds we don’t seem to have the CPU power to space the two systems apart. Overclocking removes this CPU limitation, and as the resolution is raised, there is a far larger drop in frame rates with the HD 4850 last month than with the current build’s HD 4870.

  • xx12amanxx
    Yeah Games are definatly more GPU bound than CPU bound at this time.But what about the user who decodes? Next month might be a good time to intro the new am3 triple core seeing as its being sodl for around 150$ and has been seen Oced up to 1ghz over stock.
  • As I read this review I wonder, why this is only server I know that provides such a throughout testing and evaluation of OC benefit...
  • nerrawg
    Nice article guys, like how you seem squeeze the value out of the builds, definitely a good choice of build! My only question is one of personal interest, I wonder if disregarding the set price of $625, a crossfire set up of 2 4830s would give more bang for the buck in gaming then 1 4870? Of course as you have shown it would depend on the cpu, I was thinking around 4 Ghz on a dual core and 4 gigs ram. I am wondering because 2 x 4830 can be had for as little as $170-180 now, and thats pretty awesome.
  • nerrawg
    Looking at the "Radeon HD 4830: High-Speed, Cheap CrossFire" article the results look fairly similar to that seen from this build, with maybe some very small gains in Supreme commander and crysis, while World in Conflict appears to due better on this newer january build. However the 4830 CF was on a test bed without an OC'ed cpu and without overclocking the 4830's, hence my curiosity to know if doing this would significantly increase performance and value over the single 4870?
  • StupidRabbit
    great article as always.. but what happened to the international builder marathon?
  • jv_acabal
    $43 difference bang for the buck. How about in the long run? Sure you'll be paying more than 43 bucks for the electricity bill. I think January's build is better. It might be slower than this month's build but is still very playable at most games.
  • maxwellsmart_80
    Why do you keep building the same system (practically) over and over again?

    It would have been awesome to see a system based on the Phenom II X3 "700 Series" at this price point....especially paired w/ the ATI 4830 or 4850. Dont'cha think a 4870 is a tad much for a "$625 system?" - you would have had a "Dragon Platform" - very doable at your price range. You wouldn't have had to do DDR3 either - DDR2 would have worked quite nicely.
  • cangelini
    StupidRabbitgreat article as always.. but what happened to the international builder marathon?
    International competition is in edits--almost ready to go live! Interesting results there, too.
  • Onus
    Excellent article. I think this was a good build.
    That Rosewill case (and all their cheap ones like it) will take a front mounted 120mm fan. You had $6 left over, so it would have fit in your budget.
  • jcknouse
    THG Staff note:Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon...
    I hate being picky...but...

    The links aren't imbedded in those 4 article designations at the top of the article, as of the writing of this note.