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System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Mid-Range PC

Benchmark Results: First-Person Shooters

Now for the fun part: Game benches.

Once again, we're going to stress that the Core i7 system did not have the same video card as the E8500 or Q9550 systems. While the Core 2-based machines sported AMD's top-of-the-line Radeon HD 4870 X2, we were forced to settle for a cheaper Radeon HD 4850 X2 in order to stay in budget with the Core i7 machine. We should also note that the last couple revisions of Radeon drivers have shown notable performance jumps, so keep this in mind when comparing the E8500/4870 X2 against the Q9550/4870 X2 combo with the newer drivers.

Without anti-aliasing (AA) or anisotropic filtering (AF), Crysis shows a definite clock speed reliance as the overclocked E8500 bests the Q9550. While the Q9550 catches up at 1920x1200, remember that the newer drivers are likely the cause of this.

And now, with AA:

The trend is similar, yet muted. Note how the i7 system with the slower 4850 X2 is really struggling to keep up in this GPU-limited title.

Now let's try Unreal Tournament 3 (UT3), which is a CPU-limited title:

While the Q9550 is showing gains against the E8500, we once again can't be sure this isn't due to the newer driver. However, we can see that this is a CPU-limited title and that it really favors the Core i7. Note how the i7 920 leaves the competitors in the dust despite its slower video card.

Will adding 4xAA and 8xAF change anything?

The story is similar, but we can really see that UT3 likes quad-core CPUs in general and the i7 in particular. Now let's move on to real-time strategy titles.

  • johnyeah
    I just checked, I was wondering if the HD 4850 x2 (2x1gb) was a better choice at only $240? That would cut the cost by an additional.
    Reply
  • xx12amanxx
    Phenom 2 940 is 40$ dollars cheaper overclock's to 3.7-3.9 on air runs cooler and performs the same. Not sure why you went with an equal performing lower overclocking higher power using and almost 40$ more expensive cpu.
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    You're $96 under budget, but you couldn't splurge on a better case?

    Unless you made a Typo on one of those prices, they all add up to the 1154 total. So why are you so under budget?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    xx12amanxxPhenom 2 940 is 40$ dollars cheaper overclock's to 3.7-3.9 on air runs cooler and performs the same. Not sure why you went with an equal performing lower overclocking higher power using and almost 40$ more expensive cpu.
    Can't use a processor that doesn't exist. They weren't on the market when the parts were ordered...what, you thought these articles were produced overnight?

    TindytimYou're $96 under budget, but you couldn't splurge on a better case?Unless you made a Typo on one of those prices, they all add up to the 1154 total. So why are you so under budget?
    Prices dropped after the parts were ordered: The same thing happens to EVERY builder, the system loses value almost as soon as you can click the "buy" icon.
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    CrashmanPrices dropped after the parts were ordered: The same thing happens to EVERY builder, the system loses value almost as soon as you can click the "buy" icon.Wait, wait, wait.

    You mention that in the $625 article, but those were the prices at purchase. Why the inconsistency?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    TindytimWait, wait, wait.You mention that in the $625 article, but those were the prices at purchase. Why the inconsistency?
    Ask the author of the other article? I only know that the more expensive a part is, the more money you loose when the price drops.
    Reply
  • maxwellsmart_80
    *SIGH* Yet ANOHTER "Intel System Build Marathon" machine...just kidding - I understand what you are saying about the Phenom II 940 not being available at the time of component purchase - It would be nice to see some AMD in next months articles though!

    P.S. - you were under budget, why not go w/ the Antec Three Hundred Case - it's 1000% nicer than the Rosewill Piece 'o Junk you picked, and would have cooled your Overclock a lot better IMHO...just a thought - it's a killer case for the money - have you ever used it in a system build?
    Reply
  • yellowfever
    This is my first time commenting on any article at Tom's after reading everyday for 6+ years, but seeing the UD3LR motherboard pick instead of the equally priced UD3R ($2 more after rebate) or UD3P($12 more after rebate) is ridiculous for a computer hardware website. Both boards would let you do 24/7 clocks of 4+ at decent voltages on air for an E0 stepping Q9550. Gigabyte isn't going to iron out bios wrinkles on their cheapest UD3, don't forget even the UD3R was easilly beaten in stability against the UD3P until two to three months ago when better bioses started popping up. Maybe it's late, but some strange hardware gets picked on this site to save $12.
    Reply
  • SlyNine
    I would have thought your OC would have been more limited by the 4pin CPU Power on the motherboard
    Reply
  • _horse
    Im diggin' the build here, regardless of newer hardware being available later, and prices dropping after purchase.

    Suggestion: Why not split these articles up into two forms? Why not submit an "initial/at time of order" article and have that listed first to let people argue, then do all the benchmarking and submit a followup article later, attached to the initial article?

    People can still bicker over price range and stuff before the benchmarks even come out, that way you know what/when the article is being based off of.

    I know, Im the new guy and Im probably spitting in to the wind here, but...

    :)

    -Horse
    Reply