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System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $1,250 Enthusiast Build

Test System And Benchmarks

A couple notes here: we'll compare this system against the previous $1,300 SBM machine, which was based on a Core i7-920 with two GeForce GTX 260s in SLI.

Unfortunately, we didn't benchmark that system at 2560x1600 before sending it off to the lucky winner of that machine, which is where I anticipate the four Radeon HD 4850s would have shown the biggest advantage. While this is a pity, we'll be able to compare 2560x1600 game benchmarks against Thomas' $2,500 AMD system in the SBM conclusion article, so that will just have to suffice.

$1,250 AMD Enthusiast PC Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardMSI 790FX-GD70 ATX AMD 790FX, AM3 Unchanged
ProcessorAMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3 GHz, 200 MHz Reference Clock 3.675 GHz at 1.46V 245 MHz Reference Clock
MemoryPatriot PVS34G1333LLKN 4GB DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB, CAS 7-7-7-20 DDR3-1306
Graphics4 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire  1GB GDDR3-1998 Per Card, 700 MHz GPUUnchanged
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s Unchanged
OpticalSony Optiarc AD-7240S-0B SATA 24X DVD±R Unchanged
CaseNZXT Tempest ATX Tower Unchanged
PowerPC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75CF750 W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified Unchanged
CPU CoolerXigmatek Dark Knight S1283 Unchanged
$1,300 Portable Performance PC (from previous SBM) Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardDFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 microATX Intel X58/ICH10R, LGA 1366 Unchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz, 2.80 GHz Turbo, 133 MHz Bclk, 1.36 V (load) 3.44 GHz at 1.296V (load), 172 MHz Bclk
MemoryG.Skill 10666CL7T 6GB DDR3-1064 3 x 2GB, CAS 8-8-8-19, 1.56V DDR3-1378 at 1.56V, CAS 8-8-8-19
Graphics2 x BFG GeForce GTX 260 in SLI  896MB GDDR3-1998 Per Card 590 MHz GPU, 1,296 MHz shader600 MHz GPU, 1,300 MHz shader, GDDR3-2060
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s Unchanged
OpticalLite-On iHAS422 SATA 22X DVD±R Unchanged
CaseSilverStone TJ08-B microATX Mini-Tower Unchanged
PowerPC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75QB750 W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified Unchanged
CPU CoolerXigmatek Dark Knight S1283 Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA
World In ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: Very High Details, No AA/No AF Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA/16x AF
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.0.0.17, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec) Test Set 1: Highest Details, No AA, No AF Test Set 2: Highest Details, 4x AA, 15x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.1.0.52 (x64) Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 64bits (07-04-2008) Audio CD "Terminator II," 53 min. wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.6Version: 4.6.3.268 Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.1Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Gisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus database 2094, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.80Version 3.80, WinZip Command line Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP3Version 2009.4.15.92, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • gkay09
    I would have preferred the i7 860 paired with 2x HD 4890s or 2x GTX 275s or even a single HD 5870 for this budget...
    Reply
  • drealar
    Monstrosity @1250!!
    Reply
  • frozenlead
    gkay09I would have preferred the i7 860 paired with 2x HD 4890s or 2x GTX 275s or even a single HD 5870 for this budget...
    I agree. I mean, props for quadfire, but it's not really the best choice for the best performance.
    Reply
  • HibyPrime
    Even though it turned out to only be faster at high resolution gaming, I have to commend you guys for skipping the obvious here.

    An i5 750 build probably would have turned out better numbers on the whole, I would probably call this a last hurrah (and the $2500 too, im sure that'll be a quad) for quad CF/SLi based systems being used to run a single 30" monitor.. I'm sure we'll start to see the high end gamers moving over to eyefinity and whatever equivalent nVidia comes up with.
    Reply
  • gkay09
    But as this is an all-AMD build, the X4 955 would have been a better choice...And did you people come across any driver issues when dealing with Quad-crossfire ?That setup looks like asking for trouble...
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    4 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire

    Interesting but frankly not a huge fan of multi gpu set ups to being with let alone a quad fire set up i mean at least with nvidia you have decent scaling, but who am i to complain for that price and it seems to run high rez just fine.

    But that is a *** load of load power draw, noise(not too much nice zalman heat sinks on those cards) and heat coming out of that thing.

    bit surprised when i saw the load Wattage you got i thought the older 1300 rig was a i7 with 2x260's in sli which should come out to be less power draw under load even with a modded 4870 cards

    Little risky build but on the bright side you could run 8 monitors lol

    Conventional would have landed this price in the i5/i7 build with 2x4890's or a bit more powerful cards really depends on which cpu you settle with. Ofc ionno how long ago you order this. Would have came out a bit more rounded but not as great for higher resolutions and AA AF settings.

    This build is more of a high resolution gaming specialist. Personally i've never built a system with just gaming in mind i've always been a man that favors a more rounded system where you spend at least 3/4th of what you put into your gpu into your cpu

    Thomas Soderstrom's $2,500 AMD build tomorrow
    bah $2,500 and no i7 not like the budget couldn't fit very expensive gpu card and cpu in there. Oh well it wont loose out too much in games even with mutli gpu set ups...best have a sound card in there it be very refreshing for tom's builds to sport one. Interesting what monstrosity he has made to share with us.
    Reply
  • kelfen
    I see some scaling issues with x4!!
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    I agree with gkay09 on spending the extra $20 and going with the Phenom II X4 955 BE instead even if it pushes the budget a little over.At this price level I would probably choose a Core i7 build though.I really liked the $650 SBM budget AMD build that was a great choice.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Heh well, not all SBMs have to be perfect. I'm liking the whole experimental phase the SBMs are going through. More educational than just seeing a build I would have done myself.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    jj463rdI agree with gkay09 on spending the extra $20 and going with the Phenom II X4 955 BE instead even if it pushes the budget a little over.At this price level I would probably choose a Core i7 build though.I really liked the $650 SBM budget AMD build that was a great choice.Well it was by demand to make AMD builds and this is what happens they timed it just right to be right after i5 release just to mess with us. AMD builds shouldn't hurt in games but in apps depending it can be murder or breaking even.
    Reply