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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: The $400 Spirit Of Mini-ITX

Test System And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

Current $400 Mini-ITX PC System Test Configuration
Component Base SettingsOverclock Settings
CPUIntel Pentium G860 (Sandy Bridge), 3 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3 Cache, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink And FanUnchanged
MotherboardFoxconn H61S, Intel H61, BIOS C31F1P02 (07/18/12)Unchanged
RAM4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Crucial DDR3-1600 Kit at DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T, 1.5 VDDR3-1333, CL 7-7-7-24 1T at 1.5 V
GraphicsSapphire 100357LP, Radeon HD 7750 1 GB GDDR5, 800 MHz GPU, 1125 MHz (4500 MT/s) Memory925 MHz GPU, 1225 MHz (4900 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSamsung Spinpoint M8 ST320LM001 320 GB Hard Drive, 5400 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/sUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Six-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec FP-150-8 Flex Power SupplyUnchanged
OpticalnoneUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 13.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Q2 2013 $650 Mini-ITX Gaming PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Settings
CPUIntel Core i3-3220 (Ivy Bridge), 3.3 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock B75M-ITX Intel B75, BIOS P1.60 UFI (11-19-2012)Unchanged
RAM4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Crucial DDR3-1600 KitCL 8-8-8-24 2N at 1.5 VDDR3-1600, CL 8-8-8-24 1N at 1.5 V
GraphicsPowerColor PCS+ AX7870 Myst Edition 2 GB GDDR5 925 MHz (975 Boost) GPU, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) Memory1100 MHz GPU 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerCorsair Builder Series CX500 500 W ATX12V v2.3Unchanged
OpticalnoneUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 13.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Q4 2012 $500 PC System Test Configuration
Component Base SettingsOverclock Settings
CPUIntel Pentium G850 (Sandy Bridge), 2.9 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock H77 Pro4/MVP Intel H77, BIOS P1.40  (09-21-2012)Unchanged
RAM8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333 Kit CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.585 VDDR3-1333, CL 7-8-7-22 1T at 1.6 V
GraphicsPowerColor AX7850 1GBD5-DH Radeon HD 7850 860 MHz GPU, 1200 MHz (4800 MT/s) Memory1200 MHz GPU @ 1.205 V, 1310 MHz (5240 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD3200AAKX 320 GB Hard Drive 320 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec VP-450 450 WUnchanged
OpticalLG 24x DVD Burner SATA Model GH24NS90-OEMUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 12.10Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Version 1.0.0.0, DirectX 11, 90-Second Fraps "Going Hunting" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Elders Scroll V: SkyrimVersion 1.8.151.0.7, 25-Second Fraps Test Set 1: High Preset, No AA, 8x AF, FXAA Enabled Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA Enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.98, Video: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
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)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677, MPEG2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio:MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Abobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video, Three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premier Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-Ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat X ProVersion 10.0.0.396: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encyption
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
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 StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
Compression
7-ZipVersion 9.28, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinRARVersion 4.2, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Performance Suite
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2013Version: 2013.01.19.11, Processor  Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
  • ingtar33
    great article. this type of look at how a low end "budget" build handles modern titles was perfect. Loved it. I think you got about the most you could hope for out of a $400 budget. Frankly i can't find a way to make something better at that price point. spot on really. nicely done.

    I do like how most of those games were "playable" on high settings at 1080p with that tiny rig... very cool.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    Nice build, makes me wonder how it would stack up to my old 4.0 GHz overclocked Core 2 Duo office PC. Which gets gamed on occasionally using its HD 6850 graphics card.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    Enjoy the $400 build. Kinda hoped for an A10-5800k build to compare to.
    Reply
  • rmpumper
    250 bucks makes HUGE difference. Unlike 2500 vs 1300 systems.
    Reply
  • allanitomwesh
    FINALLY! I agree this whole system builder was almost a fail.
    Also, I can't believe you had a SG05 and didn't build with it,it has an awesome power supply. Again,if you weren't getting a disk drive the V3+ was the smaller, higher quality case than CM 120 ( though they're finished on newegg)
    The obsession with ginormous cards in tiny places made your cases not tiny.Clearly,a more sensible build,like with a 670,would fit in a much smaller footprint.
    The lack of the FT03 Mini is a fail. It's a Mac killing case,and should've been the go to case for the $2500 build, because at that price,my case better look it.
    Otherwise I like that you were at least up to the challenge, and I applaud this last build.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11047601 said:
    FINALLY! I agree this whole system builder was almost a fail.
    Also, I can't believe you had a SG05 and didn't build with it,it has an awesome power supply. Again,if you weren't getting a disk drive the V3+ was the smaller, higher quality case than CM 120 ( though they're finished on newegg)
    The obsession with ginormous cards in tiny places made your cases not tiny.Clearly,a more sensible build,like with a 670,would fit in a much smaller footprint.
    The lack of the FT03 Mini is a fail. It's a Mac killing case,and should've been the go to case for the $2500 build, because at that price,my case better look it.
    Otherwise I like that you were at least up to the challenge, and I applaud this last build.
    The FT03 Mini would have probably caused the $2500 PC's graphics card to overheat, or caused the graphics card to overheat the CPU. And a 670 might have worked, but then it wouldn't have been a $2500 PC. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion.

    You could say that nobody should even bother spending $2500 on an ITX-based system, or that a system with ITX limitations should never be expected to provide top performance. At least those opinions would make more sense than the stuff you said above.

    Reply
  • brucek2
    My favorite of the builds. Feels congruent to me in that budget, form factor and system capabilities all align to each other and to my personal sensibilities. I could see making a system like this for a bedroom or den.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11047721 said:
    My favorite of the builds. Feels congruent to me in that budget, form factor and system capabilities all align to each other and to my personal sensibilities. I could see making a system like this for a bedroom or den.
    Or even an office! Really. I might not build one of these for a performance competition, but it looks like a solid alternative to my retired-gaming office PC.

    Reply
  • CommentariesAnd More
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
    CPU: Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Foxconn H61S Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: Corsair 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($29.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Samsung Spinpoint M8 500GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N180UB 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter ($9.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK Mini ITX Tower Case w/250W Power Supply ($49.99 @ Amazon)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $371.92
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-27 03:06 EDT-0400)

    Some improvements I would like to suggest , Maybe I am crazy , but felt I should do this.
    Reply
  • silverblue
    Even this diminutive little machine would significantly outpace my old Phenom II X3 710, XFX HD 4830 and 4x1GB DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12) for a pretty decent price.
    Reply