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

Benchmark Results: Crysis And Just Cause 2


Even overclocked to 3.8 GHz, the quad-core Phenom II is unable to match the Core i3-2100's raw performance, as is evident at the CPU-limited lower resolutions.

However, our current PC does take a lead at 1680x1050, once both the processor and Radeon HD 6870 graphics card are overclocked. In the end, at high detail settings, all of these configurations are playable through the maximum tested 1920x1080 resolution.

The big story related to Crysis emerges once we step up to the most detailed settings. Finally, for the first time, our $500 system is fitted with a powerful enough graphics card to remain playable through all tested resolutions!

Just Cause 2

Once again, as seen in Crysis, the Hyper-Threaded dual-core Intel offering serves up more raw performance than the 3.8 GHz, quad-core Phenom II. While CPU limitations are far more evident in our current PC, they begin disappearing at 1680x1050 and above, when the graphics hardware is able to mask the processor's embarrassing rout.

At the highest details, 8x AA proves a bit much for the Radeon HD 6850, limiting the June PC to our lower two resolutions. The current system now leads at all resolutions, though it still requires scaled back anti-aliasing to be a viable choice at 1920x1080.

  • 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!!!