Is Newer Better?
System Builder Marathon, June 2011: The Articles
Here are links to each of the five articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
Day 1: The $2000 Performance PC
Day 2: The $1000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
Day 5: Tom's Hand-Picked SuperCombo
Much of the hardware in our previous few System Builder Marathon machines is pretty stagnant, and it has been since the end of last year. AMD still offers the best value in graphics and Intel still sells the the fastest CPUs.
AMD’s value in the low-cost CPU overclocking market remains unchallenged as well, and that’s where this round’s big surprise happened: Paul Henningsen picked a locked, low-end Intel CPU for his $500 build. Anyone who lives for change might have seen this move as confrontational. But a few gaming wins and a significant efficiency improvement at least partly vindicated his component choices.
Don Woligroski’s $1000 build lost its Radeon HD 6950 and gained a pair of Radeon HD 6850s, while this editor’s $2000 PC gave up some Blu-ray burn speed and CPU cooling to gain Quick Sync via Z68 Express and a more glamorous case.
|June System Builder Marathon Components|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||$500 PC||$1000 PC||$2000 PC|
|Motherboard||ASRock H61M-VS LGA 1155, Intel H61 Express||MSI P67A-G43 LGA 1155, Intel P67 chipset||ASRock Z68 Extreme4 LGA 1155, Intel Z68 Express|
|Graphics||Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB||2 x Gigabyte GV-R685OC-1GD Radeon HD 6850 1 GB, CrossFire||2 x MSI R6970-2PM2D2GD5 Radeon HD 6970 2 GB, CrossFire|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-2100 LGA 1155 3.1-3.1 GHz, 3 MB Cache||Intel Core i5-2500K LGA 1155 3.3-3.7 GHz, 6 MB Cache||Intel Core i7-2600K LGA 1155 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Cache|
|Memory||Crucial CT2KIT25664BA1339 DDR3-133 C9, 2 GB x 2 (4 GB)||G.Skill F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH DDR3-1333 C7, 2 GB x 2 (4 GB)||G.Skill F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM DDR3-1600 C8, 4 GB x 2 (8 GB)|
|System Drive||Seagate ST3500413AS 500 GB, 7200 RPM HDD||Western Digital WD7501AALS 750 GB, 7200 RPM HDD||2 x A-Data S599 64 GB MLC SSD|
|Storage Drive||On System Drive||On System Drive||Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1 TB, 7200 RPM HDD|
|Optical||Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS 24x DVD±R, 48x CD-R||LG GH22NS70 DVD-RW 22x DVD±R, 48x CD-R||LG WH10LS30 BD-RE 10x BD-R, 16x DVD±R|
|Case||Xigmatek Asgard II||Xclio Nighthawk||Lian-Li PC-9F|
|Power||Antec EA380D 380 W ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Bronze||Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650 W ATX12V v2.2, 80 PLUS||Seasonic SS-850HT 850 W ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver|
|Heat Sink||Intel boxed heatsink/fan||Xigmatek Loki SD963||Xigmatek Gaia SD1283|
Will incremental changes in each builder’s system value add up to a surprise in our final comparison?
With itx form factor increasingly available on the market for cases, PSUs, mobos, and even HSFs, I think another round might come up with a more exciting SFF-SBM.
See for yourself http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/30?vs=288
You pay to have the latest and greatest, but like said, it carries diminishing returns.
With that being the case, It's pretty amazing what you can get these days for under $500. Obviously the $1000 build is in a MUCH better position to be upgraded, as the PSU and Mobo give you greater options. The case and cpu-cooler also are breaking points for me - leaving the $1000 build as the most sensible; In terms of performance and future upgrade paths.
The 2500k on a Z68 with Quick Sync can dramatically cut down times....
Thanks for the link. Did AMD release 2 different 5600+? "AMD Athlon X2 5600+ - 2.9GHz - 1MB L2" and "AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ Windsor 2.8GHz Socket AM2 89W Dual-Core Processor"
On all video benchmarks you linked to, the i5 was ~3-5 times faster. My ancient dual core is hanging in there a bit better than I expected. But I think my CPU is a generation older than that link (2.8 vs 2.9GHz)??? And since it is not all about GHz, mine may suck more than it looks?
The charts I find with my exact CPU (like http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q3-2008/Nero-8-Recode,838.html )have older benchmarks and don't include the newer chips.
Does handbrake use Quick Sync? I do some video editing and light gaming, but mostly converting formats & compressing video in handbrake.
I disagree with you here. I have been gaming with a $500/dollar value build for a while now and I refuse to go lower than 1920x1080. Due to that being the standard resolution for high definition and most monitors today start there and go up I think this is a more realistic starting point for resolutions for anyone building a NEW computer (considering they are buying a NEW display to go with it).