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

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

Current $500 Gaming PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase Settings Overclock Setting
CPUAMD Phenom II X4 955 BE (Deneb), 3.2 GHz, 1.40 V 2000 MT/s HyperTransport Link, 2000 MT/s CPU-NB, 6 MB L3 Cache3.800 GHz (19 x 200 MHz), 1.3375 V 2000 MT/s HT Link, 2200 MT/s CPU-NB
CPU CoolerAMD boxed heatsink/fan, 60-100% target  RPM70-100% target RPM
MotherboardASRock M3A770DE AMD 770 / SB710, BIOS P1.70 (09/17/10)Unchanged
RAM4 GB Crucial Ballistix PC3-10600 kit 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.53 VDDR3-1333, CL 8-8-8-22 1T at 1.65 V
GraphicsSapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB 900 MHz GPU, 1050 MHz (4200 MT/s) Memory960 MHz GPU, 1180 MHz (4720 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec EarthWatts Green 430 WUnchanged
OpticalSamsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222ABUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.8Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD All-in-1 Ver. 8.631_W7_logoUnchanged
June 2011 $500 PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Core i3-2100 (Sandy Bridge), 3.1 GHz (31 * 100 MHz), LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, power savings enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel retail boxed heatsink & fanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock H61M-VS Intel H61, BIOS P1.00 (03-04-11)Unchanged
RAM4 GB Crucial PC3-10600 kit 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.5 VDDR3-1333, CL 8-8-8-24 1T at 1.60 V
GraphicsSapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB 775 MHz GPU, 1000 MHz (4000 MT/s) Memory850 MHz GPU, 1150 MHz (4600 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 6-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec EarthWatts Green 380 WUnchanged
OpticalAsus 24x DVD Burner SATA DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/ASUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 11.5Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 6-series Inf v. 9.2.0.1021Unchanged
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
F1 2010V.1.01, Direct X 11, -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Steam Version, Built-in Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Custom Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Steam Version, Built-In Benchmark Test Set 1: High, DX11, AAA, 4x AF, No DoF, No PhysX Test Set 2: Very High, DX11, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, DoF, No PhysX
Audio/Video Encoding
Handbrake CLIVersion 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Min., Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
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)
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
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
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
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
Sythetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1, Entry, Performance, Extreme Suite
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.2.17.36, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • alchemy69
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
    Reply
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
    Reply
  • Outlander_04
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
    Reply
  • 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....
    Reply
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
    Reply
  • Zero_
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • 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!!!
    Reply