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System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $750 Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUAMD Athlon II X3 435 (Rana), 2.90 GHz2,000 MHz HyperTransport Link, 2,000 MHz Northbridge, No L3 Cache3 Cores: 3.668 GHz (14x 262 MHz)2,096 MHz HyperTransport Link, 2,620 MHz Northbridge4 Cores: 3.598 GHz (14 x 257 MHz)1,799 MHz Hyper-Threading Link, 2,570 MHz Northbridge
CPU CoolerXigmatek HDT-SD964Unchanged
MotherboardGigabyte MA790GPT-UD3HAMD 790GX, BIOS F3 (09/16/2009)Unchanged
RAM 4GB G.Skill PC3-12800 F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL2 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1600, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.6VDDR3-1396, CL 7-8-7-15 at 1.65VDDR3-1369, CL 7-8-7-15 at 1.65V
Graphics2 x Sapphire 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB650 MHz GPU, 2,000 MHz Memory Data Rate700MHz GPU, 2,360 MHz Memory-Data Rate
Hard DriveWestern Digital Black WD6401AALS640GB, 7,200 RPM, 32MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 7.1-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec EarthWatts EA650 650WUnchanged
OpticalLG Black 22X DVD Burner SATA Model GH22NS50Unchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate Edition x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 10.2Unchanged
Platform DriverAMD UD3 7-Series Utility 2.2Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark toolTest Set 1: High Quality, No AATest Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
Dirt 2in-game benchmark, DirectX 9Test Set 1: High Quality, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Campaign, Act III, Second Sun (45 sec. FRAPS)Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AATest Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of PripyatS.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call Of Pripyat Benchmark versionTest Set 1: High Preset, DirectX 10.1 EFDL, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Preset, DirectX 10.1 EFDL, 4x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion:9.0.2.25 x64Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Handbrake 0.9.4Version 0.9.4Convert first .vob file from "The Last Samurai" (1.0GB) to .mp4, High-Profile
TMPEGEnc 4.0 XpressVersion: 4.7.3.292Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.9.1Encoding mode: Insane QualityEnhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 9.0Version: 9.0.663, Virus base: 270.14.1/2407, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
7-ZipVersion 4.65: Format=Zip, Compression=Ultra, Method=Deflate, Dictionary Size=32KB, Word Size=128, Threads=8, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version 11.0 Extended (64-bit)Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates filters
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.2, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1.0 x64, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2010Version 2010.1.16.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • erdinger
    This system seams to be really potent. Good job!
    Reply
  • erdinger
    Good job. I Really like the system and I agree in nearly every decision.

    unlocking the forth core and still overclocking to 3.6Ghz is just great! I'm getting jealous because my 4th core is broken.

    I'm looking forward to the value comparison.
    Reply
  • cruiseoveride
    This is almost identical to my build. But I used 2nd hand parts, dual HD4870s and it worked out just less than $600.

    4 cores, 3.2Ghz, 13,000 3dmark points.

    Great bang-for-buck system.
    Reply
  • stray_gator
    Apart from a SBM entry, this article also provides reality check regarding the benefits of a fourth core. quite useful.
    Reply
  • jsowoc
    I find the value comparisons are usually (always?) that the least expensive computer has the most "value", followed closely by the middle computer, trailed by the most expensive setup.

    Would it be possible to make a 3-way comparison of systems at the same price (for example, $1000)? One could be an AMD-based system, another an Intel-based, and a third maybe a graphics-heavy monster, or a MicroATX system (to see how much performance you sacrifice to stay in $1000 and fit a small form factor).
    Reply
  • Otus
    What would by interesting is a round of "upgrade" builds. Set specific budgets for ungrades and add them on top of the hardware from a previous round. That would allow commentary on upgrade paths and also help builders of new rigs.
    Reply
  • shubham1401
    Wow!
    This processor is a beast for the price...Really Impressed
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jsowocI find the value comparisons are usually (always?) that the least expensive computer has the most "value", followed closely by the middle computer, trailed by the most expensive setup.Would it be possible to make a 3-way comparison of systems at the same price (for example, $1000)? One could be an AMD-based system, another an Intel-based, and a third maybe a graphics-heavy monster, or a MicroATX system (to see how much performance you sacrifice to stay in $1000 and fit a small form factor).
    Except for the CPU cooler, you usually sacrifice nothing to go Micro ATX. Tom's Hardware even did a micro-ATX SBM...where the Core i7 system sucked because it had to use the stock cooler. You can find semi-small micro-ATX cases that fit mid-sized coolers.

    Antec also makes a MICRO ATX MID TOWER which REALLY sux since it misses the point of Micro ATX completely, so I don't want to hear about that one.

    And of course there's Micro ATX mini-towers with the same layout as full-ATX. You get all the performance of ATX and the big cooler, with a case that's around 14-15" tall.
    Reply
  • jsowoc
    CrashmanExcept for the CPU cooler, you usually sacrifice nothing to go Micro ATX. Tom's Hardware even did a micro-ATX SBM...where the Core i7 system sucked because it had to use the stock cooler. (...)
    My argument was not that they should do a $500-$1000-$2000 comparison of uATX builds - they did this. I was suggesting doing a $1000intel - $1000amd - $1000uATX comparison.
    Reply
  • tigerwraith
    I still dont understand why they went with 2 gfx cards. Ive seen in a lot of reviews that even the newest games dont always work right off the bat when using Crossfire or SLi, So why not spend the money on a 5770 for this. You get DX 11, Dual to Triple moniters, and passthrough. So say you wanted to build a budget HTPC that could game Id have went with the 5770 or 5830 not only would that be a great cpu to watch on a HDTV but you would only need the HDMI cable to run everything.
    Reply