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System Builder Marathon: Performance & Value

Final Assessment

Averaging the performance differences for each benchmark suite could help us assess the actual value of each System Builder Marathon PC.

With its four graphics processors, the $4,500 PC excels best in games. However, at nine times the price of the $500 system, its overall performance gain of 163% appears marginal. This is where appearances can be deceiving.

A look back at the gaming benchmarks would reveal that only the $4,500 PC is adequate for playing demanding 3D games like Crysis at high-quality settings and medium or higher resolutions. But a few other games such as Unreal Tournament 3 should play quite smoothly even on the $500 PC. Gamers should consider their entire software arsenal before selecting the minimum acceptable level of graphics power.

The $1,500 build provided barely-acceptable performance in a few games, but really stood out in applications where its quad-core processor at least put it in the same league as the $4,500 PC.

Each of today’s systems was designed to do everything well, but mixing and matching components could offer even better value when the system is designed to fulfill a single role. Gamers, for example, might find good value in using the motherboard, power supply, and graphics cards from our $4,500 PC with a lower-cost case, cooling system, and hard drive. Similarly, anyone who uses professional applications exclusively might be satisfied by simply placing the processor from today’s $4,500 system into the $500 system, creating a $1,000 workhorse. Neither of these alternatives would be as flexible as our $1,500 build, but that’s why we recommend that builders consider every need rather than their primary need.

In the end, figuring out how much performance you really need may prove to be more difficult than finding the parts to achieve required performance levels.

  • slomo4sho
    Looking forward to the side by side Intel vs AMD build-offs for the $500 bracket(hopefully you start doing this)

    Also, in future write ups, can you please provide power consumption charts?
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Slomo4shOLooking forward to the side by side Intel vs AMD build-offs for the $500 bracket(hopefully you start doing this)Also, in future write ups, can you please provide power consumption charts?
    Slo,
    I'll toss the idea around with our authors. Don't see it being a problem--just have to get everyone outfit with the same equipment and methodology. Thanks for the suggestions!
    Reply
  • dangerous_23
    what about a $750 or $1000 machine - is this not a more realistic price point for most people?
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    based on these systems, a person should have an idea to build his 750 or $1000 dollar machines.
    i like most the $500 machine,the best value,simplicity and efficiency,
    only upgrading it to a quad core because i encode HD videos to H264 while surfing the net or watching a video.
    only games crysis and supreme c. required more than 3Ghz so a quad is not a big loss to duals in gaming.
    Reply
  • dangerous_23
    id very much like to see the benchmarks from a machine costing somewhere between the $500 and $1500 builds
    i bet it would hit the sweet spot!
    Reply
  • boostercorp
    hi tom's could you tell me where you got the
    2x 20 GB Patriot Viper PC2-6400 CAS 4
    ram ?
    I could use some more then my 8gb i've got now. ;) :p
    Reply
  • cangelini
    boostercorphi tom's could you tell me where you got the
    You missed it! That was our limited-time $500 super-computer build. ;-)
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    And you stuck it in the $1500 machine? I knew you were holding out on that $500 build! :P
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    I really enjoy these System Builder Marathons, yeah i'd pick some different components and price brackets, but great stuff anyways. Going with Newegg as a sponsor is a great idea and i sure hope you continue it in the future for other SBM articles. Having a quality retailer like Newegg supply easily available components should really cut down on the logistics of doing these builds and hopefully they can come a bit more often. I'd like to see other SBM brackets e.g. $600 AMD vs. Intel build. Budget quad core builds - AMD 9950 vs. Q6600. Bracket $750 $1,500 $3,000 builds. How about a reader suggested build? Post a bracket, have folks post suggested builds and pick one or a combination of ideas and have your guys put one together. Any way, great job by the staff, good information, brilliant sponsorship by Newegg and a hell of a lot of fun to read, good job.
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    I'd suggest you upgrade your next $500 build to $650! or lower the $1500 to $1100 or so.
    According to a newsletter I received 4 days ago from one of the leading danish retailers, A basic pc costs $350, a basic gaming pc costs $600, and a 'good' (in their terms) gaming system costs $1000 - they're not selling any base pc with better graphics than an 4850, but it still means that they consider the $1000 to be the mainstream, and $600 to be lowend. Ofcourse the actual component price will be lower, but it's not going to be 25% lower.
    Reply