Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test Hardware Configurations
Q3 2012 $2000 PCQ2 2012 $2000 PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-3930K (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.20 GHz, Six Physical Cores, O/C to 4.6 GHz, 1.32 VIntel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge) 3.50 GHz, Four Physical Cores, O/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.25 V
Graphics (Overclock)EVGA 02G-P4-2670-KR: 980 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008O/C to 1301 MHz GDDR5-7048Asus GTX680-DC2T-2GD5: 1201 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008O/C to 1262 MHz GDDR5-7204
Memory (Overclock)16 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600, CAS 8-8-8-24O/C at 1.6 V to DDR3-2133 CL 10-11-10-248 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600, CAS 8-8-8-24O/C at 1.6 V to DDR3-2000 CL 8-10-9-16
Motherboard (Overclock)ASRock X79 Extreme4: LGA 2011, Intel X79 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLKASRock Z77 Extreme6: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK
OpticalAsus BW-12B1ST, 16x BD-RLite-On iHAS124-04, 24x DVD±R
CaseNZXT Phantom 410Antec Nine Hundred
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 3 Rev. B SCMG-3100Zalman CNPS12X
Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDRevert to Win7 AHCI driver on O/CMushkin Chronos Deluxe 120 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDRevert to Win7 AHCI driver on O/C
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V, 80 PLUS SilverSeasonic SS-750KM: 750 W, ATX12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 301.42
ChipsetIntel INF

Two times the SSD capacity, twice the RAM, 50% more x86 cores, and the ability to write Blu-ray discs make our newest build look far more professional than last quarter's competition. A higher-end graphics card, plus an integrated Quick Sync-enabled GPU, are distinct advantages favoring that prior configuration, even if our benchmarks don't utilize Quick Sync.

Motherboards using the X79 Express chipset ship with an enterprise-oriented version of Intel's integrated controller driver. Switching back to the operation system's default AHCI driver results in a performance boost, which will be shown in our PCMark hard drive tests for the overclocked configuration. Other overclocking factors, such as CPU frequency, do not noticeably alter PCMark's drive test results.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
DiRT 3V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
StarCraft IIV1.5.1, "Tom's Hardware Guide V2" custom map, 60s Fraps Test Set 1: High Details, High Quality Test Set 2: Ultra Details, Extreme Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 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 0.95: "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: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.1 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 15.5 Pro: THG-Workload (650 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.1: THG-Workload (650 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.22: THG-Workload (650 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version:, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.10.17.80, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Darkerson
    Interesting setup. I would have favored a way beefier single GPU or a nice dual GPU setup, but I mainly only game, and dont do a lot of encoding or whatnot.
  • The contest opens on August 20, 2012 9:00 PM PDT and closes on September 3, 2012 9:00 PM PDT.
    So... i notice now that it opens at August 20, not August 19 when the $500 SBM appeared. I submitted my entry at August 19 10:30 PM. So that means that i haven't entered into the sweepstakes, or did i? I am confused, cause only one entry can be accepted.
  • Nice quality build! Enough said!
  • trumpeter1994
    That has got to be one of the luckiest GTX 670s I've ever seen.
  • sarinaide
    Gigabyte G1 Assassin Z77
    120GB SSD
    500GB HDD
    2xGTX 670
    2x4GB DDR3 1866

    And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.
  • Crashman
    sarinaidei5-3570k/i7-3770kGigabyte G1 Assassin Z77120GB SSD500GB HDD2xGTX 6702x4GB DDR3 1866And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.Probably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
  • zander1983
    Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60
  • Crashman
    zander1983Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60Sorry, I don't see any combo drives for $30 so the savings would be much less than $60. Plus, you'd lose BD-RE backup capability, which can be handy.
  • sarinaide
    CrashmanProbably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
    It would be very interesting, the IvyBridge chips in productivity numbers hold quite well with the SB-E chips that is the only area which should be a contest.
  • crisan_tiberiu
    16GB ram pointless imo. 2 TB 5400rpm hdd? ...i rather get a 1 TB 7200 rpm hdd. i7 3970k ... i rather get the i7 3770k. From theese i would squeeze in a gtx 680.