System Builder Marathon: Day One

Benchmarking: A Few Conclusions

There's really not a lot we can say about these results in isolation except that everything works except Oblivion Outside at a killer resolution of 2560x1600. We'll have a lot more exciting commentary when we compare the three systems.

We can make some passing comments about gaming performance in isolation, though:

You might not think a mere 14 frames-per-second is acceptable in the unforgiving title "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion", but remember that detail can be lowered for playable performance even in this game. Oblivion is one of those titles that still looks great at lowered detail, and while this fact won't come across very well in these benchmarks, it's important to remember when we're talking about a bargain basement system.

Even in the tough-to-run F.E.A.R., we're seeing a respectable 43 fps at 1024x768 at high detail. Look at Doom3 where the system is getting a fast 51 fps at 1280x1024 with 4xAA and 8xAF.

We've only benchmarked three game titles for this article, and two of them - Oblivion and F.E.A.R. - are easily in the top-ten list of the most demanding PC games available. As the Doom3 results show, this low-cost PC will provide high detail at 1280x1024 with 4xAA and 8xAF in some titles. The resolutions won't be maxed out in the newer, tougher titles, but this $525 system will allow the user to play anything they want to.


Even in isolated benchmarks, we can see that a low-cost PC can provide a great deal of usability for the price. The system can easily handle office-type tasks quickly and effectively, and even suited for workstation or gaming use on a budget. Once we've spec'd and tested the midrange and high-end PCs to compare with, we'll see which system offers the best bang for the buck.

Editors' Opinion

We are certainly looking forward to seeing how the low-end system fares against its more expensive brethren. It's no performance monster but I suspect it'll be very hard to beat for the price.

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  • I built the May 8, 2007 $500 system and was well pleased with it. I went with 2 GB ram but the rest was from the article. In 2011, the video card died from ruptured capacitors. I really miss that card as it was impressive.
    Now, I am considering going with 4 GB ram and upgrading the power supply to support a 22 amp video card. Maybe a processor upgrade also.