System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Synthetics

Boasting both a greater number of processing cores, as well as more powerful graphics hardware, it comes as no surprise that this quarter's gaming PC leads at all three of 3DMark11’s benchmark presets.

Really, the emphasis here is on graphics muscle though, so any boost to scoring should be most closely attributed to the Radeon HD 6870 we were able to fit in this quarter.

Based on how large of a spread we saw in the real-world tests, it's a bit surprising to see both machines place more closely in PCMark 7's Overall and Productivity suites. The AMD rig trails slightly in stock form, but manages a narrow victory once it's overclocked.

This quarter's machine drops off a bit in the hard drive tests, despite the use of a nearly identical mechanical drive. Storage performance has not been one of the stronger points for any of our AMD systems using this motherboard.

Overclocking brings victories to the Phenom II in the Arithemtic component of Sandra 2011. As we saw from the $500 Phenom II-based build from two quarters ago, the Int. x16 iSSE2 Multimedia score was only 40% of what we expected.

Memory data rates weren't increased on either $500 machine, but we were able to slightly increase realized bandwidth through tighter (CAS 8) timings.

Despite core speed and CPU-NB frequency overclocking, the AMD-based rig can’t come close to matching the bandwidth of our Sandy Bridge-based platform.

  • alchemy69
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
  • Outlander_04
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
  • slicedtoad
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
  • Zero_
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
  • zooted
    This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
  • mayankleoboy1
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
  • bobfrys
    This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
  • lunyone
    This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!