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System Builder Marathon: $625 Gaming PC


As expected, the E7300 System provided better performance at stock clock speeds than last month's system did, but it didn’t nearly provide the same overclocking headroom. Let’s sum up the total performance gains we were able to achieve this month with our overclocking endeavors.

Looking at the average increase of 25%, we see that even when pushing a higher graphics card overclock, our lower CPU overclock keeps us from reaching the same 29% gaming increase that last month's system did. We simply removed more CPU limitation last month by overclocking. Those who don’t want to go back and compare old charts will need to wait for the Performance Analysis to see how the two systems compare in straight-out gaming performance.  

Audio/video encoding took a much larger overall percentage hit from the CPU overclock,  which dropped from an impressive 57% to just 40% this month.

With our other applications, we see large gains in three of the five benchmarks with the overclocked PC. Our 37% overclocking gain in applications from last month, dropped to just 25% this month.   

A few pricing drops and a cheaper PSU made it possible to see if bumping up the CPU to an E7300 was worth considering over the impressive and fairly-cheap E5200. A total average performance increase of 30% fell 11% short compared to last month, but it still shows the system's ability to maximize the value of the chosen components by overclocking. 

So, which is the better CPU? At stock speeds, no doubt the E7300 outperformed the E5200. But was it worth the extra $38 for an SBM machine with which we strive to overclock to maximize performance per dollar? To some extent we will need to wait for the Performance Analysis and a clear picture of the two overclocked systems pitted head-to-head before deciding which is better. 

As overclocking does vary some from chip to chip, it isn’t fair to rule out the E7300 altogether based on one sample of each processor. But these disappointing maximum CPU clock speeds, as well as the few minor annoyances mentioned with PCMark Vantage and when cold booting, left room for discouragement about this month’s system. In contrast, last month's machine with the same motherboard overclocked far higher and was issue-free throughout the duration of testing. All that’s left now is to see how this system compares directly to last month's build and also to the other two more-expensive systems.

  • spirto
    once again no amd setup? i thought you said you were going to give us amd users a smb
  • DFGum
    Sure they could give a 625 dollar AMD setup, but it just wouldnt be as good at this time so why bother?
    Its always about value at the price points.
  • JeanLuc
    What’s the point in an AMD setup when the Intel option gives you better value for money?
  • Claimintru
    Negative'd you Spirto for being a mindless fanboy.
  • V3NOM
    lol... my e5200 crapped out at 3.7ghz 1.4vcore... someone i know got his e7300 to 4.0ghz at some ridiculous vcore though lol... it really depends on teh chip. some get good VID's, some get bad. some overclock good, some overclock crap, its the natura of binning. naturally e8400's would be binned more than the 5 and 7 series, and the e8500/8600 would be better still.
  • when r u guys gonna write about the nvidia ion platform?!?!?!?!
  • zodiacfml
    i wouldn't risk buying an e7300 over an e5200. i have built amd systems, now i'm regretting why i didn't bought pentium dual core which are practically core2duo's with less cache.

    regarding nvidia ion, i think intel is thinking deeply of whether they allow nvidia to Atom since netbooks still sell without it.
  • Veesofnaught
    I actually just got done purchasing parts for a new pc that ended up being around that same price. This is my first time building a PC so I'm not sure if I could have done better, but I think it's worth mentioning if anyone is interested in going for a Quad Core instead of the Dual Core.

    Intel Quad Core Q6600
    Asus P5QL Pro Motherboard
    NVidia 9800 GTX
    GSkill 4 Gb Ram
    580 Watt PSU
    Rosewill Mid-Tower
    160 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
    SATA CD/DVD Burner
  • Master Exon
    I guess I will share my for-Christmas build with TH.

    $82 2.5GHz E5200 45nm C2D
    $0 (no CPU cooler)
    $54 ASUS P5KPL-CM
    $34 A-DATA 2x2GB (4GB) DDR2 800
    $200 GeForce 260
    $55 WD 320GB WD3200AAKS
    $0 integrated sound
    $0 integrated network
    $12 Spray painted an old beige case black.
    $67 500W SeaSonic
    $22 LG DVD burner
    $10 card reader

    $526 Total

    I don't see why they didn't shave off $40 for the cheaper CPU
  • weinheimer
    That is a nicely configured system at fair pricing