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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $2,000 Performance PC

Benchmark And System Configurations

Test Hardware Configurations
Q4 2012 $2,000 PCQ3 2012 $2,000 PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-3770K 3.50 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.40 GHz, 1.26 VIntel Core i7-3930K 3.20 GHz, Six Physical Cores O/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.32 V
Graphics (Overclock)2 x MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC: 1010 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500 O/C to 1125 MHz GDDR5-6300EVGA 02G-P4-2670-KR: 980 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008 O/C to 1301 MHz GDDR5-7048
Memory (Overclock)8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-2133 CL 10-11-10-2416 GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-2133 CL 10-11-10-24
Motherboard (Overclock)Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express Stock 100 MHz BCLKASRock X79 Extreme4: LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express Stock 100 MHz BCLK
OpticalAsus BW-12B1ST 16x BD-RAsus BW-12B1ST 16x BD-R
CaseCooler Master Storm EnforcerNZXT Phantom 410
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper 212 EvoScythe Mugen 3 Rev. B SCMG-3100
Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerCorsair HX750: 750 W, ATX12V V2.3 80 PLUS GoldSeasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V, 80 PLUS Silver
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsCatalyst 12.10Nvidia GeForce 301.42
ChipsetIntel INF 9.3.0.1020Intel INF 9.2.3.1020

Our System Builder Marathon is moving to a new set of benchmarks, but I decided to give the old suite one last shot to simplify the comparison between this build and its predecessor. The current build’s data for new benchmarks will appear in our Day 4 value comparison.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
DiRT 3V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
StarCraft IIV1.5.1, "Tom's Hardware Guide V2" custom map, 60s Fraps Test Set 1: High Details, High Quality Test Set 2: Ultra Details, Extreme Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.95: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.2.0.5440: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.1 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 15.5 Pro: THG-Workload (650 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.1: THG-Workload (650 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.22: THG-Workload (650 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.10.17.80, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • Novuake
    Yeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...
    Reply
  • Crashman
    NovuakeYeah, should have gone for an ASRock board at the same price point...Maybe, maybe not, motherboard market has changed a little since the parts were bought and I've since seen some D5-series Gigabyte boards (with their better PWM) drop to $150...at least temporarily.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    Too much of cheap CPU coolers
    Reply
  • For the next SBM build, use the "SAMSUNG 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) MV-3V4G3D/US". People are posting low timings with very high frequencies. Plus it is low profile (half the size of every other non-heatsink memory modules on the market) and operates at 1.35v (overvolt it to 1.65v without worry).
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147096
    Reply
  • kj3639
    After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!

    -Good Job
    Reply
  • herooftimex
    Suggested changes:

    Core i5 3570k - savings of $120
    2x - MSI N670 PE 2GD5/OC - $800 (gtx 670 OC'd to 1019 core clock)

    Rosewill FORTRESS-750 - $140 (80 plus platinum + 7 year limited warranty)
    LIAN LI PC-7B plus II - $100 (gamer cases look tacky, less is more)
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    I think Toms needs a new article: "The Dream Build" with gaming in mind.
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    kj3639After building that awful piledriver rig you go ahead and do something like this... and totally REDEEM YOURSELVES!!!-Good JobThey really had nothing to redeem themselves about. They went with something a little different, just to try it out. Id rather they go off the beaten path so we can get a better idea of how these builds would turn out without having to buy and build them ourselves.
    Also, if they didnt try something different, they would almost always be cookie-cutter builds until the next big thing came out. No thanks!
    At any rate, this is a really nice build. Have to say, though, I would be happy to win any of these.
    Reply
  • C12Friedman
    My first thought, I kept going back to it also, was the motherboard, why? I kept going 2nd page, 1st page, 2nd page, back to first page, confusion reigned in my head. Took me a while to get past the second page. But since it was addressed at the end of the article, I guess it's known.
    Reply
  • One think to consider are both Q3 and Q4 systems future proof. It's important for games and serious task to be able to extend life of your PC and Q4 in this category is certainly penny wise but pound foolish.
    Reply