Regular readers of our System Builder Marathon series won’t be surprised to see the $500 machine win our performance-per-dollar metric, since the others only approach the top of our chart on rare occasions.
As in the previous SBM, our performance calculation is weighted as 30% games, 30% encoding, 30% productivity, and 10% hard drive transfer patterns.
The $500 machine leads in value once again, yet the overclocked $1000 PC comes so close to it that we still have to give it a stronger recommendation. A quick look back at the $500 machine’s encoding times should tell the story of why spending a little extra might be worth it to many enthusiasts, though its lackluster performance in only a few games could help to convince anyone who’s still on-the-fence. Gamers usually want a system that can consistently reach their expectations, and the $1000 machine is most often that configuration.
The $2000 machine is noticeably faster than the $1000 PC in productivity and encoding apps, but much of its budget went towards two big-boy Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards. Those cards didn’t just boost performance, they also provided more bang-for-the-buck at 2560x1600 than the pair of Radeon HD 6850s used in the $1000 machine. Anyone with a big budget probably doesn’t need this excuse to plunk down their cash on high-end parts, but the High-End Gaming Value chart could provide additional validation for a purchase choice.