As we wrap up another system builder marathon, we realize while nothing in life ever seems to work out perfectly; sometimes things work out pretty well.
This marathon was supposed to be published a number of weeks ago – before the new Radeon 4800 series was launched – and therefore we didn’t have the option of selecting ATI’s excellent new cards for our builds. Unfortunately, our intrepid reviewer Thomas Soderstrom had an unlucky break (involving a few bones and some surgery) and was unable to assemble and test one of the systems, forcing us to defer the marathon. It was further delayed when Nvidia and ATI released their new video cards, the reviews of which of course took precedence over our marathon and pushed us back even further.
While the video cards we chose for these systems might not be our first choice if we could do it all over again (considering what’s available), the rebates available on the GeForce 8800 cards are so prevalent that even today a pair of them in SLI would be $100 cheaper than a pair of 4850s, and realistically the prices will likely drop even further. The rest of the builds were spec’d out well enough that these marathon systems are still viable hardware ensembles.
For more information on the components used to build each of the systems we’re comparing, in addition to the overclocked configurations, check out the sub-$1,000 PC, the sub-$2,000 PC, and the sub-$4,000 PC.
Let’s review the benchmarks we’ve used once more, see how everything stacks up, and analyze the price/performance data to see the value each system offers for the dollar.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||3D-Games|
|Row 2 - Cell 0||Video Quality 1: High Details No Anti-Aliasing|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||Video Quality 2: Very High Details, 4x Anti-Aliasing|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Benchmark_CPU.bat|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||Video Quality 1: Default (No AA, 8x AF)|
|Row 7 - Cell 0||Video Quality 2: High Quality, 4x AA|
|Row 8 - Cell 0||Benchmark: THG-Demo|
|Commander||Video Quality 1: Default|
|Row 11 - Cell 0||Video Quality 2: High Fidelity, High Shadow, 4x AA|
|Row 12 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Real 60 Game|
|Tournament 3||Texture Detail: 5|
|Row 15 - Cell 0||World Detail: 5|
|Row 16 - Cell 0||Field of View: 100|
|Row 17 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Botmatch (WAR-Torlan, 12 bots, 1 Minute)|
|Mark of Chaos||Video Quality:Default (Highest Settings)|
|Row 20 - Cell 0||Demo: THG Timedemo (1 Minute)|
|Row 21 - Cell 0||Audio|
|iTunes 7.2||Version: 188.8.131.52|
|Row 23 - Cell 0||Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min|
|Row 24 - Cell 0||High Quality (160kb/s)|
|Lame MP3||Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)|
|Row 26 - Cell 0||Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min|
|Row 27 - Cell 0||wave to MP3|
|Row 28 - Cell 0||160kb/s|
|Row 29 - Cell 0||Video|
|4.0 Xpress||Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)|
|Row 32 - Cell 0||Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9|
|Row 33 - Cell 0||Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 kHz, 6-Channel, English|
|Row 34 - Cell 0||Advanced Acoustic Engine MP3 Encoder (160 kb/s)|
|DivX 6.6||Version: 6.6.1|
|Row 36 - Cell 0||Profile: Home Theater Profile (720x576)|
|Row 37 - Cell 0||1-pass, 780 kb/s|
|Row 38 - Cell 0||Encoding mode: Insane Quality|
|Row 39 - Cell 0||Enhanced multithreading|
|XviD 1.1.2||Version: 1.1.2|
|Row 41 - Cell 0||Target quantizer: 1.00 (maximum quality)|
|Row 42 - Cell 0||Applications|
|Photoshop CS3||Filtering 69 MB TIF Photo|
|Row 45 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Tom’s Guide-Benchmark V184.108.40.206|
|3D Studio Max||Rendering One Video Frame|
|Row 48 - Cell 0||Quality: HTDV 1920x1080 and 1280x720|
|Grisoft AVG||Version: 7.5.467|
|Anti-Virus||Virus Base: 269.6.1/776|
|Row 51 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Scanning 3.82GB Application Folder|
|Cinema 4D||Resolution: 1280x1024|
|Row 54 - Cell 0||Benchmark: Rose Drop, 8 bits (50 Frames)|
|Rarlab Winrar||Version 3.70 BETA 8|
|Row 56 - Cell 0||Compression = Best|
|Row 57 - Cell 0||Dictionary = 4096 kB|
|Row 58 - Cell 0||Uncompressed Folder Size: 642 MB|
|Row 59 - Cell 0||Synthetics|
|SPECviewperf 9||Version: 9.0.3|
|PCMark05 Pro||Version: 1.1.0|
|Row 62 - Cell 0||System, CPU and Memory Tests|
|Row 63 - Cell 0||Windows Media Player 11.0.6000.6324|
|Row 64 - Cell 0||Windows Media Encoder 9.00.00.2980|
|3DMark 2006||System Test Only|
|Sandra XII||CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia|
|Row 69 - Cell 0||Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark|
I like the introduction of the high-resolution gaming bang/buck chart - it's a keeper!
Thanks again guys!
TL;DR Thanks Toms, anyone who actually builds systems on a regular basis can appreciate this data.
A mid range $2k system has always been my price point. For that you can usually build an overclocked system which hits 30FPS on max graphics.