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System Builder Marathon, June 2011: $1000 Enthusiast PC

Conclusion

With the same CPU and virtually identical overclocks, there’s really nothing to discuss when it comes to processor performance. Suffice it to say that Intel’s Core i5-2500K continues to prove itself more capable than its impressive predecessor, Core i5-750.

The real story here is about graphics, and more specifically how a pair of Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire perform against a single Radeon HD 6950 2 GB card modified to run a lot like a Radeon HD 6970. As you can see, at 1920x1080 with the highest details enabled (including AA on every game except Crysis), the CrossFire-based solution is far more powerful. The previous system only achieves 80% of the performance of two Radeon HD 6850s in stock form.

What this chart doesn’t show is that, at 2560x1600, the current system and its dual-card setup sometimes has difficulty keeping up with the Radeon HD 6950. This is a result of the half-sized GDDR5 repository on each lower-end card, and and because of this we recommend that folks looking for playable performance at resolutions higher than 1080p consider a pair of Radeon HD 6950 2 GB cards in CrossFire instead of either of the options presented here. Yes, two 2 GB Radeon HD 6950s cost a lot more money, but if you’re investing a significant chunk of change into displays, you don’t want to hamstring them with insufficient graphics muscle.

In any case, the Radeon HD 6950 2 GB proved itself to be a good performer given a price point that falls lower than today's configuration. At the same time, CrossFire'd Radeon HD 6850s are a more powerful solution for gamers playing at 1080p with enough cash to afford them. As always, we look forward to seeing how this build sizes up to the value of the other System Builder Marathon PCs at the end of this week in the final comparison article.

  • seller417
    650W is enough power for this rig?
    Reply
  • kelby0320
    Radeon HD 9950 I want one
    Reply
  • whysobluepandabear
    What? 6850 x 2 = $340? Um, I could get TWO 6870's for $350~ EASY. Sure, they have mail in rebates, but who cares.


    Two 6870's would stomp the 6850's, and you would literally spend the same, if not a measly $10 more.
    Reply
  • quixilver1
    Why change the cooler from the $200 pc. It is only $5 more and still within the budget.
    Reply
  • whysobluepandabear
    seller417650W is enough power for this rig?Well, looking into my tarot cards and crystal ball, I see It peaks at 400W at full load. So yeah, I think 650W may be a bit of an overkill.
    Reply
  • quixilver1
    quixilver1Why change the cooler from the $200 pc. It is only $5 more and still within the budget.Should read $2000 pc.
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Overall, its a good build.
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    whysobluepandabearWell, looking into my tarot cards and crystal ball, I see It peaks at 400W at full load. So yeah, I think 650W may be a bit of an overkill.Why would it be overkill? Its the kind of headroom you should have so your not straining the psu. Sure you could get away with less, but for a few dollars more than a 500w unit you can get a 650w. Its perfectly balanced and leaves room for upgrade. Its good to see what 2 6850's can do but i think if I were building this PC i would chose a faster single card and upgrade to dual cards later.
    Reply
  • akorzan
    seller417650W is enough power for this rig?Yes. There is a misconception that rigs need over-sized power supplies. I have a Core i7 875k and a Radeon HD5850 running on a 400 Watt power-supply. Is it pushing it? Yes, if I clock it to 4.2 GHz and run Furmark and Prime95 none stop...
    No if I run Furmark and Prime95 at 3.33 GHz, and definitely no for any realistic workloads.
    Why did I get a 400 watt power-supply? Because it is darn silent and was recommended on Silent PC Review for "budget" power-supplies. (Bare in mind that "normal" are gold SeaSonics)
    Reply
  • whysobluepandabear
    iam2thecroweWhy would it be overkill? Its the kind of headroom you should have so your not straining the psu. Sure you could get away with less, but for a few dollars more than a 500w unit you can get a 650w. Its perfectly balanced and leaves room for upgrade. Its good to see what 2 6850's can do but i think if I were building this PC i would chose a faster single card and upgrade to dual cards later.
    Because he was asking if 650W was enough, when all he had to do was look at the chart and clearly see the 399W max system (CPU+GPU) load.


    So essentially, for that system, the 650W is more than enough, and ...effectively an "Overkill".
    Reply