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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
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.4Nvidia GeForce 314.22Nvidia GeForce 314.22
ChipsetIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Intel INF 9.3.0.1026Intel INF 9.3.0.1026

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 11.0.0.378 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 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 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: 2.5.0.10677: 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
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat XVersion 10.0.0.396: 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.