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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: System Value Compared

Test Settings

Test Hardware Configurations
 $2400 Perfomance PC  $1200 Enthusiast PC  $600 Gaming PC 
Motherboard (Overclock)MSI Z68A-GD55 (G3) LGA 1155, Intel Z68 ExpressO/C at 102 MHz BCLKBiostar TA990FXE Socket AM3+, AMD 990FXO/C at 207 MHz RCLKMSI PH61A-P35 LGA-1155, Intel H61 ExpressNo O/C
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.37 VAMD FX-6100 3.3 - 3.9 GHz, Six CoresO/C to 4.45 GHz at 1.476 VIntel Core i5-2400 3.1 GHz, Four CoresNo O/C
Memory (Overclock)8 GB Corsair DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.60 V to DDR3-1636 CL 7-8-7-124 GB Mushkin DDR3-1600 CAS 7-8-7-24, O/C at 1.50 V to DDR3-1380 CL 7-8-8-244 GB Wintec DDR3-1333 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C at 1.65 V to DDR3-1333 CL 7-7-7-20
Graphics (Overclock)2 x PNY GeForce GTX 580: 857 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4212 O/C to 951 MHz GDDR5-43122 x Gigabyte Radeon HD 6950: 870 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5000 O/C to 880 MHz GDDR5-5040Sapphire Radeon HD 6870: 900MHz GPU, GDDR5-4200 O/C to 990 MHz, GDDR5-4720
OpticalLG WH12LS38 BD-RE 12x BD-R, 16x DVD±RLite-On iHAS124-04 DVD±R/W 24x DVD±R, 48x CD-RSamsung SH-222AB DVD±R/W 22x DVD±R, 48x CD-R
CaseFractal Design Arc MidiRosewill Challenger-U3Xigmatek Asgard II
CPU CoolerPNY XLR8 Integrated Liquid CoolingXigmatek Gaia SD1283Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
Hard DriveCrucial M4 128 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDOCZ OCZSSD2-1VTXPL60G 60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDSeagate ST3500413AS 500 GB, 7200 RPM HDD
PowerMushkin Joule MKNPSJL10001000 W, 80 PLUS GoldCorsair CMPSU-650TXV2 650 W, 80 PLUS BronzeAntec EarthWatts EA430D 430 W, 80 PLUS Bronze
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 285.62AMD Catalyst Graphics 11.11
ChipsetIntel INF Catalyst Platform 8.71Intel INF
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
F1 2010V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Just Cause 2Version, Built-In Benchmark "Concrete Jungle" Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 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 0.94: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 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
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version 12.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 14.0 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.2: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version:, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2011.1.17.15, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.