Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: System Value Compared

Test Settings And Overclocked Configurations

Test Settings And Overclocked Configurations

Test Hardware Configurations
$650 Gaming PC$1300 Enthusiast PC$2500 Performance PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i3-3220, 3.3 GHz, Two Physical CoresNo O/CIntel Core i5-3570K, 3.4 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.3 GHz, 1.3 VIntel Core i7-3770K, 3.5 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.6 GHz, 1.3 V
Graphics (Overclock)PowerColor PCS+ AX7870 2 GB: 925-975 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6000O/C to 1100 MHz GPUSparkle GeForce GTX 680 2 GB: 1006-1059 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008O/C to 1153 MHz GDDR5-6408Asus GTX690-4GD5: 915-1019 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008O/C to 1200 MHz GDDR5-6400
Memory (Overclock)4 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, No O/C8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 11-11-11-28 1T, O/C at 1.5 V to DDR3-1866 CL 8-9-9-24 2T16 GB Crucial DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24, O/C at 1.5 V to DDR3-2133 CL 9-9-9-24
Motherboard (Overclock)ASRock B75M-ITX: LGA 1155, Intel B75 ExpressMSI Z77IA-E53: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 ExpressAsus P8Z77-I Deluxe: LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express
OpticalNoneLite-On iHAS124 24x DVD±RAsus BW-14D1XT: 14x BD-R
CaseCooler Master Elite 120 AdvancedLian Li PC-Q08BBitFenix Prodigy w/Mesh Front
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink And FanAntec Kuhler H2O 620NZXT Kraken X40
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD5000AAKX: 500 GB, SATA 6Gb/s Hard DriveAdata XPG ASX900S3-64GM-C: 64 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerCorsair CX500: 500 W, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS BronzeCorsair CX750M: 750 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BronzeSeasonic SS-660XP2: 660 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Platinum
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.4Nvidia GeForce 314.22Nvidia GeForce 314.22
ChipsetIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Intel INF INF

Rather than manually overclock his memory, Don decided to run it at SPD defaults for baseline measurements and XMP defaults for overclocked tests. I managed to push my DDR3-1600 to DDR3-2133 by adding one cycle to its timings, while Paul’s non-overclockable platform remains locked into its defaults.

Don’s Core i5 system appears to have hit a barrier at 4.3 GHz, which is slightly lower than the 4.4 GHz I’ve grown to expect from Intel's lower-binned quad-core chips. Conversely, my Core i7 offered a better-than-expected 4.6 GHz at the same voltage setting.

GPU overclocking will likely make a far more consistent performance difference in all three systems, but only in games and perhaps the occasional OpenCL-boosted application.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam Version, In-Game Test Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second 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
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version x64: Create Video which includes three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
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: 0.98: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 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
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat XVersion Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.64a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Benchmark Only
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2013Version Version 2013.01.19.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, 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.