Performance Is Value
System Builder Marathon, March 2011: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
I find it almost ironic that folks who use the value label in talking about their most affordable finds will then go on to talk about the value of their most expensive purchases. The true meaning of value varies between all of us, so long as the product we're talking about does its job the way we want it to. Any product that doesn’t perform adequately then becomes worthless.
Putting aside those qualitative assessments, value can also be determined mathematically by comparing performance to price. The numeric “bang-for-the-buck” result is an easy tool for picking winners, but doesn’t do a good enough job explaining whether the winning product can sufficiently fill the buyer’s needs. A perfect comparison would discuss numeric expressions of performance-value, as well as the suitability of each system for specific tasks.
|System Builder Marathon Components|
|$550 PC||$1000 PC||$2000 PC|
|Motherboard||ASRock M3A770DE Socket AM3, AMD 770/SB710||ARock P67 Extreme4 LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express||Asus P8P67 WS Revolution LGA 1155, Intel P67 Express|
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8GHz Quad-Core, 6MB Cache||Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30 GHz Quad-Core, 6 MB Cache||Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz Quad-Core, HT, 8 MB Cache|
|Memory||G.Skill F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS DDR3-1333 C9, 2GB x2 (4GB)||G.Skill F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH DDR3-1333 C7, 2GB x2 (4GB)||G.Skill F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM DDR3-1600 C8, 4GB x2 (8GB)|
|Graphics||Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB||Gigabyte GV-R695D5-2GD-B Radeon HD 6950 2GB||2x XFX HD-695A-CNFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB, XFire|
|System Drive||Samsung F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB 7200 RPM, 16MB Cache||Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1.0 TB 7200 RPM, 32MB Cache||2x A-Data S599 SSD, Striped 64 GB x2 (128 GB Combined)|
|Storage Drive||Uses System Drive||Uses System Drive||Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1.0 TB 7200 RPM, 32MB Cache|
|Optical||Lite-On iHAS 124-04 24X DVD±R, 48X CD-R||Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X DVD±R, 48X CD-R||Lite-On iHBS212 BD-RE 12X BD-R, 16X DVD±R|
|Case||Xigmatek ASGARD II||In-Win Android||Antec Three Hundred Illusion|
|Power||Antec EA380D 380W ATX12V v2.3, 80-Plus Bronze||Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V v2.2, 80 PLUS||Seasonic SS-850HT 850W ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver|
|Heat Sink||AMD Boxed Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus||Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100)|
The cheapest PC in today’s comparison is already equipped with a high-performance graphics card and, as always, will receive the same level of overclocking attention as its high-priced competitors. The real question, then, is how far up the performance ladder the $550 PC can climb, and whether the superior components in the $1000 and $2000 builds will allow them to double and quadruple the less-expensive machine's performance?