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System Builder Marathon: $500 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

We ran our $500 machine here through the same benchmarked settings as the two more powerful configurations, really hammering its performance at times. However, it’s interesting to see how this build stacks up against the other two—and we’ll get into more detail on cost versus value in tomorrow’s final installment of the series.

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Pentium E21802.00 GHz, FSB-800, 1 MB Cache3.20 GHz (8x 400 MHz), FSB-16001.46V Core +0.1V FSB Voltage
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper TX2Cooler Master Hyper TX2
MotherboardGigabyte GA-EP35-DS3LIntel X35 Express, BIOS F5 (07/17/2008)Unchanged
RAM2.0 GB Wintec AMPO PC2-64002x 1024MB, DDR2-800, CL 5-5-5-15 2T at 1.80 VUnchanged
GraphicsPNY VCG88512GXEB-FLB GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB600MHz GPU, 1,800 MHz Memory Data Rate738 MHz GPU, 2,106 MHz Memory
Hard DrivesSeagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3400620AS 400 MB, 72000 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 8-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec Earthwatts 380WUnchanged
OpticalLite-On 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04Unchanged
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate 32-bit, SP1Unchanged
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce 178.24 WHQLUnchanged
Onboard Device DriversIntel 3-series Utility CD Ver 1.12, Intel 8.4.0.1018Unchanged
CrysisVersion : 1.2.1Video Quality : Very High DetailsDemo : CPU-Benchmark + Tom’s Hardware Tool
Supreme CommanderForged AllianceVersion : 1.5.3599Video Quality : Highest SettingsDemo : WallaceTX_006_006Benchmark : Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3Version : 1.2Sound and DirectX10Texture Details : 5Level Details : 5Demo : vCTF-Reflection_botTime : 12/60
World in ConflictVersion : 1.0.0.9Video Quality : Very High detailsDemo : Game-Benchmark
iTunesVersion : 7.7.0.43Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Lame MP3Version : 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 minwave to MP3160kb/s
TMPEG 4.5Version : 4.5.1.254Import File : Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution : 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode : Insane QualityEnhanced multi-threadingEnabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)Audio : MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 Kbps)Mode : PAL (25 FPS)Profile : Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9Version : 9.0Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version : 10.0x20070321Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-PhotoBenchmark : Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4Filters : Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version : 8.0.134Virus base : 270.4.5/1533Benchmark : Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
Winrar 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3Compression = BestDictionary = 4096 KBBenchmark : THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2Compression = BestBenchmark : THG-Workload (139 MB)
3DMark VantageVersion : 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion : 1.00System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarksWindows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMediaMemory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • radguy
    Thanks for the article. I always enjoy these sbm builds you guys do. I guessed wrong again but actually think you guys picked a better choice. Nice to know build quality is still taken into consideration even at the 500 dollar range. Also just to mention this again next time noise and power consumption charts please.
    Reply
  • "The silicon hard drive grommets"

    That wouldn't dampen much noise.

    Try silicone hard drive grommets
    (They are usually silicon-oxygen based polymers)
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    I wish you used the E5200 CPU for this build, current prices reflect a difference of $14 only.

    Also, in the future, would it be possible for you to have two builds for the $500 budget build. One based on Intel AND the other on AMD?
    Reply
  • xx12amanxx
    I would have spent maybe 30$ on a cheapo case and put the 50$ toward's a hd4850! Most people building a 500$ pc are going to want maximun performance and not care what the case looks like.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    xX12amanXxI would have spent maybe 30$ on a cheapo case and put the 50$ toward's a hd4850! Most people building a 500$ pc are going to want maximun performance and not care what the case looks like.
    $30 for a case and PSU? Sounds like a build asking for trouble. I personally don't think $80 for a nice chassis and power supply is bad.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Slomo4shOI wish you used the E5200 CPU for this build, current prices reflect a difference of $14 only. Also, in the future, would it be possible for you to have two builds for the $500 budget build. One based on Intel AND the other on AMD?
    Heya Slo! We're actually weighing the possibility of simply switching off each month on the $500 system since AMD has some very compelling hardware in that range.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    cangeliniHeya Slo! We're actually weighing the possibility of simply switching off each month on the $500 system since AMD has some very compelling hardware in that range.
    Well in this case, an AMD build might have allowed for a 4850. I look forward to seeing what you decide upon but I still think a monthly build of each platform at the $500 build is definitely something worthwhile.

    Transitioning month to month between the two usually does not allow for comparative annalist in your "Performance And Value, Dissected" write-ups
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Slomo4shO
    Gotcha. We'll discuss that as a possibility, then.
    Reply
  • lounge lizard
    I love the article and second the notion that it would be a great idea to run it every month. I for one am a firm believer of upgrading more consistently at a reasonable cost per component rather then just throwing $1500 at new machine.

    At some point it would be interesting if you guys could run an Upgrade Edition of the $500 system builder. Most people that have the courage and knowledge to overclock their new parts by over 50% (wow the E2180 rocks!)would almost definitely have components that they could and would want to swap between rigs.

    Again, great article.
    Reply
  • reasonablevoice
    king_edgar"The silicon hard drive grommets" That wouldn't dampen much noise.Try silicone hard drive grommets(They are usually silicon-oxygen based polymers)
    What the hell are you saying?
    Reply