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System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: AMD System Value Compared

Test Settings

Here’s a quick recap of the performance settings used to test each system, including overclock values.

System Builder Marathon Performance Settings
$650-Limit Build$1,250-Limit Build$2,500-Limit Build
ProcessorAMD Phenom II X2 550 BE 3.1 GHz at 3.65 GHz (18 x 203 MHz), 1.35VAMD Phenom II X4 945 3 GHz at 3.68 GHz (15 x 245 MHz), 1.46VAMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2 GHz at 3.91 GHz (19 x 206 MHz), 1.4875V
MemoryOCZ Gold OCZ2G10664GK DDR2-1066 at DDR2-1083 CAS 6-5-5-18, 2.10VPatriot PVS34G1333LLKN DDR3-1333 at DDR3-1306 CAS 7-7-7-20, 1.65VCrucial CT2KIT25664BA1339 DDR3-1333 at DDR3-1648 CAS 8-7-7-18, 1.65V
Graphics2 x Sapphire 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 700 MHz GPU, GDDR3-22604 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH Radeon HD 4850 1GB 700 MHz GPU, GDDR3-19203 x MSI R4890-T2D1G OC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 930 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4600
OS/Program DrivesWD Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB, 7200 RPMWD Black WD6401AALS 640GB, 7200 RPM2 x Intel X25-M 80GB Model SSDSA2MH080G1 (RAID 0)

And now for the benchmarks:

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
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
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XDirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 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
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 SE", 53 min wave to MP3
TMPEG 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 1.6.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft 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, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.0, Compression = Best, WinZIP Commandline Version 3.0,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
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • 08nwsula
    So when will these things be given away?
    Reply
  • ColMirage
    Wait one more day, they should have the contest page up tomorrow (I guess so anyway)
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    Out of the 3 of them, got to love the $1250 one. Especially since it has "quadfire" on-board. Don, u made at least one reader happy :).

    On another note, this reminds me of the 3x260 vs 2x280 article you guys wrote a while back so i would like to see, if possible, another follow up article based on this concept of "the more the merrier"

    Lastly, don't be shy in using more then 2 graphics cards in future system builder marathons since it's a nice change of air.
    Reply
  • uruz
    that 650 SBM would look great on my desk beside my aging computer... Btw does it run on diesel?
    Reply
  • anamaniac
    SpadeMOut of the 3 of them, got to love the $1250 one. Especially since it has "quadfire" on-board. Don, u made at least one reader happy . On another note, this reminds me of the 3x260 vs 2x280 article you guys wrote a while back so i would like to see, if possible, another follow up article based on this concept of "the more the merrier"Lastly, don't be shy in using more then 2 graphics cards in future system builder marathons since it's a nice change of air.Now I want to see a Pentium four paired with 4x 5870... I'm serius.
    Though some of us are iffy about multiple cards. Heavily diminishing returns do come into effect with a multi-card setup.
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    Now can we get a comparison between these SBM Ati/AMD setups vs an updated Intel/Nvidia SBM setups. Instead of the previous April setups you guys compared these ATi/AMD computers it would be great if you could build updated systems with Nvidia cards in SLI with the new i5 and updated i7 chips. Perhaps still including the Qextreme chips if need be. It would be a true comparison to see which system would be the most worth it to buy for the price ranges.

    Then it would be great to see a chart with all of these systems being compared. For instance seeing the 3x4890 $2,500 build vs an i7 3xGTx285 build for the same price! Pls try to include AA in crysis benches even though they might be low in 2560x1600, at least we will get an idea of how important the next gen cards will stack up and utilize the AA x4 and DX11. Thanks and nice work as these articles are interesting. You guys should make a magazine or supply articles to the likes of PC world for real bench testing and not general reviews.
    Reply
  • Sharft6
    I always thought more than 2 gfx cards was a waste of money but it seems to work ok for you guys despite the slugish cpus.

    good marathon.
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    All of these builds look great to me.I am impressed by the ingenious way you folks have put these together it was very inventive.I liked the quadfire $1,250 system build as well.You have shocked us all here I think (well many of us) and done these builds in some unusual ways quite a surprise.
    Reply
  • Sharft6
    demonhorde665why the hell does every ioen call amd cpu's "sluggish" for f--ks sake theya re any thing butr sluggish , sure they arn't teh fastest player in teh field but shit they arn't sluggish you fanboy. if some oen could run a 40 in 3.1 seconds but stil gets beat by some one that can run it in 3.02 would you call the loser a slug ?? (for the record average athelete running time for a 40 meter dash is about 4.5 seconds)
    if anything i'm an amd fanboy - 5600+ and 4850 over here.

    I didn't call them slugs i called them slugish. THG have shown i7s do better at gaming especially when u stack up the gfx.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    08nwsulaSo when will these things be given away?
    I'll be updating the link to the contest today sometime in all three stories, then having the news team post a news piece letting everyone know that the contest is ready! Good luck!!
    Reply