Building Our Benchmarked Boxes
We needed to upgrade our system for this round of performance testing. First, we picked up a Xigmatek HDT-S1283 to better cool the quad-core processors. Second, the DDR2-800 we used for the guide was replaced by DDR2-1066 memory supplied by Corsair.
Running four processors, both stock and overclocked, with two video cards offers a large amount of comparative data and represents a substantial amount of time spent benchmarking. Two complete systems were built, so at least some testing could be run simultaneously. Rather than buy components like we do in our SBM series, it was necessary to mainly use parts already available in the lab. While not identical, the two test systems are on par as built, both using the same motherboard, memory, video cards, and optical drives.
The Athlon 7750 BE was installed in an Antec Three Hundred case and cooled by an Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro. With a 500 GB Seagate drive, this setup is very similar to what has been used in our $625 SBM systems. Of course, the Antec True Power Trio 650 W power supply unit (PSU) was a bit beefier than typically found in a budget system, but was a necessity to adequately power the Radeon HD 4870 X2.
The three more expensive processors found their home in an Antec Nine Hundred case and utilized the larger 120 mm cooler highlighted on the previous page. This system also housed the quicker of the two HDDs, a 640 GB Western Digital Black Edition, making it very comparable to what would be expected in a $1,250 machine. Power was delivered by an Antec Neo Power 650 W, which is a modular PSU that is very similar in specs and efficiency ratings to the one above.
Again, keep in mind that cost is not a factor in this article. While the Asus M3A78-T motherboards used are not the least-expensive 790GX motherboards, they are more in line cost-wise with an Intel P45 that also supports CrossFire across 8x/8x PCI Express links. Both would be excellent mainstream enthusiast-level motherboards with which to build a system. Also, remember there are 790GX/ SB750 options available for around $100, which is similar in cost to the Gigabyte P45 motherboards used in many SBM machines.
The main prices to focus on here are the processors themselves. The Athlon 7750 BE currently retails for $60, which is about $10 cheaper than the Intel Pentium E5200. The AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE can be found for $150, or about $10 more than the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE. The AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE is about $190 now, which is a significant $80 less than the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 and $100 less than the Intel Core i7 920 used in the two past $1,250 SBM systems.
With two systems built, it was time to run the stock tests and begin overclocking.