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System Builder Marathon, March 2011: $2000 Bonus Build

Test Settings

Test Hardware Configurations
Alternative $2000 PCOriginal $2000 PC
Motherboard (Overclock)MSI P67A-GD65 (B3) LGA 1155, Intel P67 ExpressNo BCLK OverclockAsus P8P67 WS Revolution LGA 1155, Intel P67 ExpressNo BCLK Overclock
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to to 4.80 GHz, 1.40 VIntel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to to 4.80 GHz, 1.40 V
Memory (Overclock)8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1600 CL 7-8-7-218 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.6 0V to DDR3-1866 CL 8-9-8-24
Graphics (Overclock)2 x MSI R6970-2PM2D2GD5 880 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5500O/C to 950 MHz, GDDR5-58002 x XFX Radeon HD 6950 2 GB 800 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5000O/C to 840 MHz, GDDR5-5300
Hard Drive2 x A-Data S599 SSD, Striped: 64 GB x 2 (128 GB Combined)
OpticalLite-On iHBS212 BD-RE: 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±R
CaseAntec Three Hundred Illusion
PowerSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver
CPU CoolerScythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 11.2
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.0.1021
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, 8x AA
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Version 1.0.0.2, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatCall Of Pripyat Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX11 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX11 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64 Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes Default format AAC
HandBrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4, convert first .vob file from The Last Samurai (1.0GB) to .mp4, High Profile
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPressVersion: 4.7.3.292 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX Codec 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
Xvid 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32 KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8 Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, 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.
  • sandmanwn
    More opportunities to win a free giveaway!
    Reply
  • sabot00
    Yay! 1 more chance to win!
    Reply
  • hayest
    Great build! Can't wait to see what is in store for next quarter!
    Reply
  • Great SBM series. What about an AMD quad core vs. an AMD triple core (unlocked 4th core) vs. Core i3 value comparison?
    Reply
  • compton
    Now this is pretty interesting. I wouldn't have suspected that the memory bandwidth reduction in the alternate build would have been as big of deal as it is. I think both builds are fantastic, but the NF200-equiped Asus board was one I myself was trying to obtain. It has been deactivated on the Egg, and the winner of the original $2000 build will be extra lucky indeed. Hopefully, it's me.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    comptonNow this is pretty interesting. I wouldn't have suspected that the memory bandwidth reduction in the alternate build would have been as big of deal as it is. I think both builds are fantastic, but the NF200-equiped Asus board was one I myself was trying to obtain. It has been deactivated on the Egg, and the winner of the original $2000 build will be extra lucky indeed. Hopefully, it's me.It was deactivated, but has since been reactivated:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131714
    Now when you win the second PC, there will be no need for sadness: You can upgrade it with the motherboard from the first!
    Reply
  • wolfram23
    I'd love to see more info on 16x/16x vs 8x/8x. I just looked at the last time you guys reviewed it, but it was only with a GTX480. Being one of many with a P55 8x/8x mobo, I really need to know what my best upgrade path would be... single top end card at 16x? Or CF/SLI again? Is the resolution going to be the deciding factor? Seems like high res sees less of a PCIe bottleneck at 8x, but maybe it's just due to framerates being lower? Need info! lol.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Wolfram23I'd love to see more info on 16x/16x vs 8x/8x. I just looked at the last time you guys reviewed it, but it was only with a GTX480.Look for something in a week or two. And you're right to NOT bother with the GTX480 stuff, Nvidia cards need less bandwidth than AMD cards.
    Reply
  • compton
    It was deactivated, but has since been reactivated:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod 6813131714
    Now when you win the second PC, there will be no need for sadness: You can upgrade it with the motherboard from the first!

    This is why the SBM is the best thing going. A few other sites do similar articles, but Tom's is far and away the champion. Another well respected site doesn't even build the systems, but Tom's builds three (or four!) and gives 'em away like sweet delicious candy. Every build has its's own quirks, issues, and performance wins (losses too) that can't always be understood until the gear arrives and goes together. If system building was entirely predictable, no one would build their own. It's just more fun this way.
    Reply
  • qwertymac93
    antec 300 again... im really not liking that case. you have any experience with the haf 912? it seems like a very nice case.

    Anyway, i never understood why intel went with just 16 lanes on SB yet all the mobo makers market their ultra high end cross fire boards. :pt1cable:
    Thing I'm wondering is, if intel switched to 24 lanes, could the graphics cards work at 12x each for 2 way, and 8x for 3 way? i know a full 32 lanes is unlikely, that's why I'm asking.
    Reply