System Builder Marathon, March 2010: System Value Compared

Benchmark Results: 3DMark And PCMark

Unlike most games, 3DMark shows a significant performance difference between the overclocked $1,500 and $3,000 machines. Because synthetic benchmarks don’t represent real-world performance differences, the results aren’t used in our final value assessment.

Poor hard drive performance results for the $1,500 PC can be partly attributed to its builder not using AHCI mode for the drive controller. Excellent results for the $3,000 PC’s drives were achieved thanks to the low latency and high bandwidth of its Level 0 (striped) SSD array.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • DearSX
    Great comparison. I guess being poor is not all bad.
  • dirtmountain
    The performance of the $750 system is great for the price and i certainly agree with your statement "Yet the real winner is not the machine but its builder, as Paul Henningsen achieved a best value coup with AMD’s low-cost, overclockable, and unlockable Athlon II X3 435 processor."
    A big +1 to Mr. Henningsen and the other builders.
  • shubham1401

    Now I'm even more impressed with the Athlon II X3 435.

    The 750$ Rig was the most impressive for me.
  • skora
    Its nice to know "Go BIG or Go Home" can GO AWAY!!!

    Drop to a 500gb HDD and step up for the 1gb 4850s, and you have a very well balanced high power system with budget parts. Bravo Paul. Good showing Don and Tom.
  • gkay09
    I too agree that the credit should go to the builder - Mr. Henningsen
    But I would say that it should also go to AMD for giving such a CPU...
    Low-Mid segment, AMD still rules in terms of value and performance...
  • Onus
    Outstanding results. I hope this helps kids who are building with Daddy's money understand that they don't need to waste it on a big edong. Furthermore, for all practical intents and purposes, FPS may be capped at 120Hz for 3D displays and 60Hz for the other 99.9+% of us, and higher framerates ignored in the value comparisons as not being a visible improvement. Unlocking being partly a matter of luck though, it does still support the value of a quad-core processor, even in a budget build.
    On the subject of AVG, I'd leave it in the benchmarks as a valid example of a program a lot of people use, making its results relevant even if they look a little odd.
  • axekick
    I built my first build last October using a very similar setup.

    Antec 300 Illusion (same case)
    Gygabyte GA-MA790GPT-UD3H (same motherboard)
    Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS
    G.Skill (2x2GB) DDR3 1333
    AMD Phenom II X3 720
    Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon HD 5750 (recently added)
    Corsair 450VX
    Samsung SH-S223B DVD Burner

    At the time it cost slightly less, without OS and including the recently added Radeon HD 5750 totals $737.55

    I have very similar benchmarks, slightly better actually and am very satisfied with the system. I have successfully unlocked the fourth core of the BE 720 and ran benchmarks after overclocking the processor and video card. It's an outstanding system for the price, more than I need. Actually I have locked back down the fourth core and do not keep it over-clocked as I don't do a lot of gaming.
  • gilbertfh
    IMO both the $750 and $1500 systems perform extremely well for the cost. From the looks of it the $3000 pc would be more of a status symbol.
  • bustapr
    I hope u guys start selling PCs on Newegg. "THG SMB Gaming PCs", I would like to buy that $750 PC, already built at that price or similar. It would save me alot of trouble building and ordering parts and it will become an instant best seller. You guys can destroy cyberpower and alienware and others. Paul Henningson, you can get rich fast.
  • jeverson
    I'm just a little curious though about the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. results. It says that the benchmark is using DX11. The $750 system is being evaluated there but is using HD4xxx video cards. How are you getting results for DX11 for that build? Anyway, great job as always guys! Although, I would have to say that to me the winning PC would be the $1500 OC as it was capable of staring down the $3k box and not flinch. Of course, I also say it because I have a 24" monitor and the $750 rig just doesn't cut it there unfortunately. Lastly, in one of the articles you guys asked if you should go back to the old $500/$1k/$2k builds. I think you guys are now in the new "sweet spots" for PC now. $750-$800/$1200-$1500/$2500-Obscene are good ranges these days. Hmm... maybe the "Obscene" should be a forth "bonus" build ;)