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System Builder Marathon Q2 2014: System Value Compared

Results: 3DMark And PCMark

3DMark shows that the Radeon R9 290X was a great choice for my $1600 PC, almost propping it up as the CPU trips over itself in the overclocking portion.

The $1200 machine’s Radeon R9 290 still looks strong, though perhaps weaker than expected in comparison to the expensive machine’s single-GPU flagship.

Paul's $600 PC necessarily includes a weaker graphics card, though that's still a boon to value since the half-priced platform achieves more than half of Don's performance.

Paul figured out the trick to Don’s improved PCMark scores, and I eventually got in on the secret too: an error in the batch process produced low (but consistent) Home and Creative scores, so we re-ran this benchmark manually.

Because PCMark’s storage scores are based on real-world load times, they’re the only synthetic metrics that make it into our final performance analysis. All three systems feature a WD Blue 1 TB disk. However, my $1600 machine uses it as a secondary drive, backing a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • TechyInAZ
    It's interesting how the $1200 build actually beats the $1600 build at 1080P. I can see at ultra wide resolutions but it surprises me at 1080P.
    Reply
  • revanchrist
    Are you sure it's 770 rather than a R7 265 inside that $454 budget build?
    Reply
  • Herr_Koos
    On page 2 it says you used a GTX770 for the $600 budget build. Surely this is a typo? The GTX770was from last quarter.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    13593981 said:
    It's interesting how the $1200 build actually beats the $1600 build at 1080P. I can see at ultra wide resolutions but it surprises me at 1080P.
    I think your expectations are reversed. Most readers expect a higher CPU clock to boost performance at lower resolutions where the graphics card isn't stressed, and to have little effect at triple monitor resolutions where the GPU limits the frame rate.
    13594092 said:
    On page 2 it says you used a GTX770 for the $600 budget build. Surely this is a typo? The GTX770was from last quarter.
    Thanks, fixed!
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    awesome sbm, awesome articles, all of them. awesome job, guys. this quarter's was a lot of fun. no shortage of interesting stuff, excitement. or drama, lol.
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    should give the winner his choice of $100 cash or OS
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    One thing I notice is that overclocking, even with $30 coolers, seems to give an overall boost in performance of 10%. Not too shabby.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    13594434 said:
    should give the winner his choice of $100 cash or OS
    Do you think any of us wants to buy your prize? If we didn't ourselves pay for these OS's, what makes you think we would pay for these OSs?

    I got my two licenses for like, $20. Though I probably couldn't get any more like that, I don't need any more at the moment, thanks. If you don't want the OS, and you win my PC, just tell me and I'll keep it. Thanks!

    Reply
  • firefoxx04
    The mid range beating the high end in 1080p make sense considering it had a higher cpu clock and only 2-4 threads utilized most likely. I'm sure both gpu were in the 50-70% range
    Reply
  • Onus
    Ok, with the final article, time to enter the contest!
    Disposition should I be a fortunate winner:
    1. Having not messed with a "new" Athlon, I might put a 92mm cooler on it and see what I can get out of it for a week or three. I'd almost certainly contribute a SSD to it, then most likely donate it to a startup I know of that actually is more in need of office-type PCs (but they do play some games).
    2. If the motherboard were micro-ATX, I'd probably use most of these parts to upgrade / replace my Phoenix PC, as they represent a platform upgrade. It would be a substantial upgrade to my Omega PC, but I like the idea of maintaining that AM3+ system due to the overall quality of the parts in it. If the Apevia case surprises me due to its quality, I may use it anyway. One way or another, this would lead to another complete system donation though.
    3. The parts in this one appear to be of sufficient quality / durability that I would probably end up forsaking the Omega PC for this one. I'd put its 990FX onto my test bench though to keep it around, and donate that one (MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming) as above.
    Reply