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System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Value Compared

Overclock And Benchmark Settings

Don and I both faced the same crisis as parts we requested disappeared as our main office finished up some related paperwork. Don paid $25 more to get a troublesome motherboard, and I paid $40 more to get an identical graphics card with extended warranty (upon registration, which doesn't make sense with our giveaway). Though I paid the bigger penalty in dollars, Don paid a far higher price in a system that quit working the instant he attempted to overclock.

Test Hardware Configurations
Q4 $600 Performance PCQ4 $1200 Performance PCQ4 $1600 Performance PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Pentium G3258: 3.2GHz, Dual-Core, O/C to 4GHz, 1.19VIntel Core i5-4690K: 3.5-3.9GHz, Quad-Core, 6MB LLCIntel Core i7-4790K: 4.0-4.4GHz, Quad-Core, O/C to 4.6GHz, 1.26V
Graphics (Overclock)MSI R9 270X: 1080MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5600, O/C to 1140MHz, GDDR5-6000Zotac GTX 970: <1216MHz GPU, GDDR5-7010PNY GTX 980: <1216MHz GPU,  GDDR5-7012, O/C to <1456MHz, GDDR5-7972
Memory (Overclock)8GB G.Skill DDR3-2133 CAS 9-11-10-28, O/C to DDR3-2400 CL 10-12-12-28, 1.60V8GB G.Skill DDR3-2133 CAS 9-11-10-28 at DDR3-1600 CL 11-11-11-28 SPD Defaults8GB G.Skill DDR3-2133 CAS 9-11-10-28, O/C to DDR3-2400 CL 10-12-12-28, 1.60V
Motherboard (Overclock)MSI H81M-P33: LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express, Stock 100MHz BCLKAsus Z87-A: LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express, Stock 100MHz BCLKBiostar Hi-Fi Z97WE: LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express, Stock 100MHz BCLK
CaseDIYPC M89-R microATXDIYPC Adventurer 9601RThermaltake Chaser A31
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed CoolerID Cooling SE-213Phanteks PH-TC14PE 140mm
Hard DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX: 1TB, SATA 6Gb/s HDDKingston V300 SV300S37A/120G 2.5" 120GB SATA 6Gb/s (SSD)Plextor M6S PX-256M6S 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerEVGA 100-W1-500-KR: 500W, 80 PLUS StandardEVGA 100-W1-500-KR: 500W, 80 PLUS StandardRosewill Capstone-750-M: 750W, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 14.4Nvidia GeForce 344.75Nvidia GeForce 344.75
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017Intel INF 9.4.0.1026Intel INF 9.4.0.1026

How much will the lack of overclocking cost Don Woligroski in his machine’s overall performance? Can either of these $1000+ systems beat the performance value of Paul’s low-budget dual-core $588 build?

Benchmark Settings
3D Games
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Grid 2Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Arma 3Version 1.08.113494, 30-sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Far Cry 3Version 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 CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CCVersion 7.0.0 (342), 6.61GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 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 (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000Hz, 2-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 (44.1kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224Kb/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 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
File Compression
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.5.0, Benchmark Only
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • SinxarKnights
    Too bad Don didn't get his rig working properly. Oh well I guess.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    I was personally not a fan of the drab, bueraucrat approved case choices but overall these are some sweet rigs. I actually bought the MSI H81 / Pentium G3258 combo for my HTPC based off the recommendations here and have been really pleased with the results so far.
    Reply
  • the1kingbob
    I have little desire to read when no AMD CPU is involved
    Reply
  • Crashman
    14927184 said:
    I have little desire to read when no AMD CPU is involved
    AMD is over-represented in SBMs, with over 2/3 of prior graphics cards being Radeons and even one of the cards in this one being an R9 270X.

    You should print that statement on foil before making your next hat :)

    Reply
  • Onus
    I hope Don is able to figure out what went wrong, then update his results with some kind of overclocking results. He did say he would try...
    Reply
  • rayden54
    @Crashman GPU =/= CPU
    Reply
  • rayden54
    A couple questions: I've heard that there are some new games that don't work at all on dual core processors including the famed Pentium G3258. Have you encountered this issue and would it effect your recommendations if it's true?
    Reply
  • Bannereus
    Tough break for Don ... too bad this one couldn't be solved with a hacksaw xD

    If overclocking wasn't part of the competition, the $1100 rig would have been the closest to beating the value of the budget entry that I've seen in a while.
    I'm really glad to see that efficiency and value are coming to the higher-performance market (even without overclocking savy).
    Reply
  • MasterMace
    If you're looking for value performance you can't use a card over $250, you have to SLI/XF 2 - 200-250 cards. But people aren't looking for that as frequently as it adds the cost of a much bigger power draw.

    I'm still hoping for a build that dual-sockets to get rid of the CPU bottleneck.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    14928639 said:
    A couple questions: I've heard that there are some new games that don't work at all on dual core processors including the famed Pentium G3258. Have you encountered this issue and would it effect your recommendations if it's true?

    The Pentium G3258 is a good processor, and people like it because it's a cheap overclock friendly solution where the low end Intel i3s are not. But as an owner of one, for gaming it really has no practical usage. The system that I use mine in is mainly a media playback machine.
    Reply