Tom's SBM: The $1,500 Mainstream PC

Test System & Benchmarks

Now that we’ve looked at our choices and justifications in detail, let’s recap our components one more time before getting into the benches :

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ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Core 2 Quad Q66002.4 GHz, FSB 1066, 8 MB Cache3.456 GHz (9x 384 MHz), FSB-15361.45 V Core
CPU CoolerSwiftech H20-220Swiftech H20-220
MotherboardDFI Lanparty X38Intel X38, BIOS 6.00 (03/19/2008)Northbridge Voltage : 1.40V
RAM4.0 GB Patriot Viper DDR2-800 Model PVS24G6400LLK2x 2048 MB, DDR2-800, CL 5-5-5-12 at 1.90V2x 2048 MB, DDR2-800, CL 5-5-5-12 at 1.90V2x 2048MB, DDR2-768, CL 5-5-5-12 at 2.10V
Graphics2x ASUS Radeon 4850 TOP (Crossfire)2x ATI 4850 GPU, 685 MHz2x 512 MB DDR3 1050 MHz700 MHz GPU, DDR3 (1070 MHz)
Hard Drives2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB ST3500630AS (RAID 0)1.0 TB, 7,200 RPM, 32 MB CacheUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX 2.01, 60A 12V RailUnchanged
OpticalLITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04Unchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate 32-bit, SP1Unchanged
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 8.10 32-bit EditionUnchanged
Onboard Device DriversDFI Lanparty DK X38/X48 v .001Unchanged

You know the hardware, you know the overclock, so let’s have a detailed look at the benchmarks and settings before we scrutinize the results.

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CrysisVersion : 1.2.1Video Quality : Very High DetailsDemo : CPU-Benchmark + Tom’s Hardware Tool
Supreme CommanderForged AllianceVersion : 1.5.3599Video Quality : Highest SettingsDemo : WallaceTX_006_006Benchmark : Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3Version : 1.2Sound and DirectX10Texture Details : 5Level Details : 5Demo : vCTF-Reflection_botTime : 12/60
World in ConflictVersion : Quality : Very High detailsDemo : Game-Benchmark
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iTunesVersion : CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Lame MP3Version : 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 minwave to MP3160 kb/s
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TMPEG 4.5Version : File : Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution : 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode : Insane QualityEnhanced multithreadingEnabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)Audio : MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps)Mode : PAL (25 FPS)Profile : Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
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Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9Version : 9.0Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version : 10.0x20070321Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-PhotoBenchmark : Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4Filters : Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version : 8.0.134Virus base : 270.4.5/1533Benchmark : Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
Winrar 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3Compression = BestDictionary = 4096 KBBenchmark : THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2Compression = BestBenchmark : THG-Workload (139 MB)
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3DMark VantageVersion : 1.02GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion : 1.00System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarksWindows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMediaMemory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • Hi,
    This is my first comment although I have reading this website for the past 8 years. Anyway to th point - Usuallt I agree 90% with you on components you choose, especially in the high-end and budget configuration. But this time a lot of tings strikes me: First it is the CPU - I am pleased You have addressed the issue to a great degree in the article later, but still I think it will be appropriate to try to further increase the voltage because this is a watercooled 65nm CPU; Second the chipset I think it`s ot the best choise, X38 is a former high-end chipset so when You`re overclocking you should get the faster binned X48, but because this is mid-range configuration I think it`s best to taka advantage of the super popular P45; Third the motherboard I am not sure if a motherboard with a not so stron PWM is the best tool for overclocking such a power-hungry chip, You should try to overclock on a different motherboard to see why are yuo`re not receiving a more descent overclock;Forth and last the price difference to a 1066MHz kit is pretty small so I think it`s preferable because tis will give You flexibility to try higher FSB with lower multiplier, wchich should give another notch of performance. I am saying all this because I want to help You make this website even better.
    Best Regards. Bobby
  • I think it would be interesting to see power consumption and noise benchmarks for the PCs you build in this article series.
  • JeanLuc
    I can see why you wanted to use a water cooling kit so that you got the best possible overclock from the CPU but water cooling is hardly ‘mainstream’ which is what I thought this system builder marathon was all about. The same goes for the choice of motherboard, the X38 is an enthusiast’s motherboard, something like the Biostar T Power i45 would have been more appropriate and according to CustomPC UK is just as good at overclocking as any other motherboard.

    Good choice in video cards, I’m glad you didn’t choose 4850’s with the stock coolers because those bad boys run really hot.
  • Proximon
    Well it was a good try. Would have preferred a more truly mainstream rig, but then the forums are full of those.
  • Malovane
    And I thought a $400 Dell or E-Machine was mainstream..
  • fallen2004
    P45 wouldnt have workd cos it would bottleneck the crossfire as it only runs at 8x and 4850's need 16x
  • neiroatopelcc
    JeanLucI can see why you wanted to use a water cooling kit so that you got the best possible overclock from the CPU but water cooling is hardly ‘mainstream’ which is what I thought this system builder marathon was all about.
    I agree with this dude really. Anything watercooled is enthusiast, not mainstream. I don't know if americans just treat themselves to better hardware, but here in europe anyone with watercooling is considered an enthusiast. Nobody with a reasonable budget is going to 'waste' money on water cooling. Imo a tuniq, tr120 or a scythe something cooler would've been a more appropriate midrange guess. Also I'd expect anyone building a pc today to pick a p45 over an x38 (though I like the red slots on this one)
  • neiroatopelcc
    fallen2004P45 wouldnt have workd cos it would bottleneck the crossfire as it only runs at 8x and 4850's need 16xBtw I'm running a 4870 on an x16 pcie v1 - that equals an x8 pcie v2 connection. And I can hardly claim that my system's limited by the bandwidth.
  • dirtmountain
    A E8500, single socket P45, HD4870x2,Sunbeam core contact cooler and a Coolermaster 690 would have made their budget and blown the socks off that build.
  • grumps01
    How about some info on this "mainstream" system sound wise. How Loud or quite is this system use this Swiftech H20-220 Kit with larger pumps etc. Also what's the temperatures like (heat dissipation) like in general with this combination please?

    I know most ppl are probably more interested with the benchmarks, but I'm sure this might interest some people on what's it like to live with, thanks!