System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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[citation][nom]pacioli[/nom]AMD Phenoms have recently mysteriously appeared back on the market after a 6 month absence. (I'm not sure what is going on with AMD's CPU marketing team...) They were likely not available at the time of the build. The FX 4100 doesn't do so good in gaming as it gets beaten by the lower end Sandy Bridge at stock and can only equal them when overclocked (Which creates a power sucking system that makes me cringe at the electrical bill)[/citation]

You cringe at an additional $5-15 a year? I can understand not wanting that, but its not that bad.
 
[citation][nom]ScrewySqrl[/nom]I suspect a dual-graphics Trinity build (A10 + 7750) with a 120GB SSD will make a competitive $500 build for the december challenge[/citation]

That might be true if A10s can actually CF with a 7750 and a 120GB SSD could fit into the budget without skipping out on a hard drive. I don't know about you, but I'd find a 120GB SSD quite limiting, especially in how many games can actually be installed at once.
 

demonhorde665

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gah for f---s sake why do you guys keep using dual core cpus in these builds , you can buy a quad core now for about the same price as these higher clocked dual cores and get better performance all around in comparison. the dual core cpus are really starting to be underpowered for any kind of game rig
 

jimmy19

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I have seen a reviev in internet where an Athlon 2 x4 651k can match the performance of an I3 2100 at almos 95%. Why do you keep using these pentiums when u can use that.
CRAPPPPP
 

doggysoft

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[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]Many are talking about a Phenom II X4, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that choice. It's especially attractive when we consider competing throughout the whole test suite, not just games. While available again, PH II quads are still a bit more expensive, and that funding comes from where? A Boxed 965 BE is $110, (same as the FX4100). The stock PHII cooler is loud, but would likely take the chip near 3.8 GHz. Alternately, an oem 955BE is $95, add $10-20 for a cooler as desired. Either way, we are dipping into our GPU and Mobo budget. I’d want to break budget a bit to do the platform justice. I’m not crazy about an AMD build (Deneb, or Zambezi, or Llano) forced to use a $50 mobo and CAS 9 DDR3-1333. Anyway, my take on PH II X4 is this: power consumption would be way up, noise and/or cost up, productivity (overall) once overclocked would be way up, the machine's overall "score" or value standing vs. the other two machine's would also improve (requires more cores). However the focus here was gaming, and I suspect little difference in 3 of our games (BF3, Skyrim, and DiRT3). StarCraft II though, our testing has shown even a 3.7 GHz X4 980 trails the G860 by about 10%. We'd probably need at least 4.0GHz to match the G860 in SC2.Bottom line, we have now seen what Intel has to offer gamers at this budget. If we shift focus towards all-round performance, not just games, then we need more processing cores. We can't grab 4 Sandy Bridge cores and maintain our GPU funds, so attention must shift towards AMD.[/citation]

Well... I'm currently using a 955 C3 stepping @ 3.9GHz 1.4V stable, bump it to 1.475V and it goes 4.2 stable with a CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ which I bought for less than 30$. Tt was a good deal... I can still play nearly all games maxed out detail @ 1680x1050 (my monitor max resolution) VGAs: 2x Sapphire HD4870QP @ 810/1100 both on a MSI K9A2 Platinum board.
I've bought the second 4870 2 months ago for about 65-70$ (I'm from Bulgaria - Eastern Europe) and I'm not pretty sure if needed that much GPU power for 1680x1050 gaming... I bet all games will be running smooth even at 1920x1080. However the total cost of my PC is about 735$ but I've used a "second hand" second VGA... all other stuff was bought new (4x A-Data 1066MHz RAM, 1000GB Samsung Spinpoint F3 bought 2 years ago and a 650W PoV Black Diamond PSU).
 

pauldh

Illustrious

Likely at GPU limited games/settings. Reality check time:

(edit: Sorry, I see you said Athlon II X4 651K, my mistake after reading the above PH II comments. But you really want to bring Llano into a Gaming discussion, after slamming a SB Pentium ?)

You want us to use an Athlon II X4, yet you call a Pentium G860 priced the exact same, "CRAPPPPPP". Let's look at 25% of our gaming evaluation:

StarCraft II is the most CPU limited game in our suite. We'll even drop all the low settings and just take a look at the 1920x1080 Extreme chart linked here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-6.html

(edit: A8-3870K - average 30.4 fps)
Athlon II X4 645 - average 30 fps
Phenon II X4 955BE - average 38.9 fps
Pentium G860 - average 45.6 fps
Core i3-2100 - average 47.6 fps.

The $90 Pentium G860 is not “crapppppp” for gaming. That would better describe the unplayable Athlon II X4 645 seen above. ( edit: or 3.0 GHz Llano for that matter)

And it's not like we have anything againt or have not used Athlon II's and Phenom II's before. In the SBM gaming PC, I've used the Phenom II X4 955BE, X4 940, Athlon II X4 640, and numerous X3 models. Yet it is now a shame that we wanted to look into top gaming CPU's for their price ... a $50 Celeron, a $90 Pentium, and a $120 Core i3. They are not the only choices for gaming, but even at stock clocks will more than keep up with "overclocked" offerings from AMD within thier price brackets.
 

ojas

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@paul,
i have the exact same card (now i know how far it overclocks, thanks! :D ) but my card has a stock voltage of 1.0120 V and stock memory clock of 1002 MHz.
I'm just confirming this: this is not the clock speed and voltage that your card has, right?
 

JDFan

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So then what would the performance be on a $540 system - if you kept the GPU from the previous months machine instead -- would the extra 8% price increase yield far better results overall ??
 

hameem_1

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i think the motherboard is the part that we should spend as less money as we can on it if we are building a budget PC . . thumbs up if you agree.
 

doggysoft

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jimmy19 wrote :
"... a $50 Celeron, a $90 Pentium, and a $120 Core i3. They are not the only choices for gaming, but even at stock clocks will more than keep up with "overclocked" offerings from AMD within thier price brackets."
I'd like to test my "offering" vs ANY Celeron or Pentium you want, if any of them take lead in 51% of the tested games I'm going to say that I will be Intel fanboy for the rest of my life :) OR cuz you will not trust me just get a Phenom 955 that can be clocked @4.2GHz and test yourself I can bet my balls on it...

ojas
"AMD fanboys out in force as usual :p
face it guys, for gaming, the pentium kicks ass."
This is based on? Personal expirience???
 
[citation][nom]JDFan[/nom]So then what would the performance be on a $540 system - if you kept the GPU from the previous months machine instead -- would the extra 8% price increase yield far better results overall ??[/citation]

Far better is probably an exaggeration, but the 560 TI would probably improve performance.
 
[citation][nom]geekapproved[/nom]If they had chosen Asrock H61 or H77 which would have been cheaper, they could have used much higher ram frequency.[/citation]

H61 is just cutting back too far. This is a balanced build and the motherboard shouldn't be left out of that equation. An H77 would have probably been more expensive than the B75 and an H61 would have been an inferior board.

[citation][nom]hameem_1[/nom]i think the motherboard is the part that we should spend as less money as we can on it if we are building a budget PC . . thumbs up if you agree.[/citation]

I think that the motherboard that they bought for this SBM is about as cheap as I'd go for an Intel motherboard. I might get a cheaper AMD board, but not Intel.
 

pauldh

Illustrious

Tourist, agreed. At least somewhat. Just Cause 2 is one of the best examples from our past & current test suites that punishes a dual-core CPU. This is exactly why I keep testing it each round despite it "officially" being put to rest. I'd argue the importantance of playing the game's most demanding locations as a judgement vs. getting too worked up on benchmark minimums/averages. "Concrete Jungle" is the most demanding of the repeatable built-in benchmarks, but I've discovered situation where it is far too heavy on the CPU, depending on the settings and aspect ratio. A Celeron G530 and stock GTX 560 are both about as guilty of diminishing the max-settings 1920x1080 expereince. G630 and GTX 560Ti are all you need until pushing 3DVision or the NV specific in-game settings we do not test (both require more GPU).

But, even overclcoked, we are pushing Llano's abilities now with current games. With no upgrade path, I don't see the platform as future proof, at all. If/When dual-core Sandy Bridge is no longer adequate, pop in an i5/i7. More often than not a G860 will blow away overclocked Llano in games. A 3.6 Ghz Llano would probably not even match a Celeorn G530 in StarCraft II, which is actual FRAPS game-play within our current test suite. Anyway, I gave Llano much consideration, but it would be a fun experimental build for another time and/or place. This build was specifically seeking the best gaming within reach at $500.

Moving forward, I drop heavy hints each time regarding the direction the next build will likely go. Our $500 PC needs to once again attack the whole test suite, be built to "WIN" so to speak, and not be focused purely on gaming. That has now been covered. Next we need all-round performance... increase productivity while maintaining gaming abilities. From my eyes, this task points directly towards an overclocked AMD platform. Phenom II X4 would best serve the purpose now, although we have covered those numerous times, and have to wonder if they will be available when we order, and also weeks later when the series goes live. Every time SBM talks role around I start eyeing up the FX 4100, hoping it will finally be available under $110. Once again no dice. A $110 AMD CPU+cooler will get real tight, and this past month would have meant breaking the $500 budget, dropping graphics below HD6870/GTX560, or using a $50 mobo (and basic DDR3-133 RAM). I'll upset someone with any of those choices. We will just have to see how things shape up next time.
 

ojas

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[citation][nom]doggysoft[/nom]
ojas"AMD fanboys out in force as usual face it guys, for gaming, the pentium kicks ass."This is based on? Personal expirience???[/citation]
AMD fanboys out in force= yes, based on experience, happens almost every time for sub-$200 CPU builds.

SNB pentium is great for gaming = lots of benchmarks.
 

Avro Arrow

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[citation][nom]MaxGardener[/nom]http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 20-10.htmlpretty damn close, the Phenom 955 is definitely more attractive for overclockers, but offer limited upgradablilty because of motherboards etc. Pentiums use the 1155 socket, and therefore are upgradable to a better 2nd gen or 3rd gen processor, which anything above the g860 kicks the shit out of the Phenom[/citation]
I'm sorry, what?! Limited upgradability due to motherboards? I think perhaps you shouldn't listen to Intel's FUD so often. I'm running a Phenom II X4 965 on a Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3. The 990FX chipset is pretty much as advanced as it gets when it comes to the consumer market. My motherboard has all the goodies like USB 3.0, 2 x PCI-Express v2.0 x16 slots (supporting both Crossfire and SLI) THX Audio and lovely overclocking tools. This is an AM3+ board that will support non-APU iterations of both Phenom II and FX CPUs so please tell me why my upgradability is limited? If anything, history has shown that limited upgradability due to the motherboard is Intel's forte, not AMD's.
 

RedJaron

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I've seen you recommend this a few times and I think it sounds very intriguing. I get the idea behind it, but does it work in real-world application? I haven't seen any benchmarks or tests investigating this ( largely because I haven't really looked specifically for them. ) Got any to share? Yes I'm lazy and don't want to search right now.


Wasn't implying otherwise. I've read your comments and find them very helpful. My question was more on whether the enthusiast would rather have an Intel or AMD solution if money wasn't a major restriction, particularly for long-term use. My main complaint against AMD the past few years is the constant socket changes that make CPU compatibility confusing. Meanwhile Intel has stayed with LGA 1155 for both Sandy and Ivy and LGA 1150 is confirmed to support both Haswell and Broadwell.

If AMD does indeed stay with AM3+ through Steamroller, then yes, that's some nice longevity for the platform, especially considering a current Intel user has to move to LGA 1150. Whether Steamroller can best Ivy though is yet to be seen. I hope AMD does make some big improvements because Bulldozer was a bit of a let down. It'd be nice if they could pull a Thunderbird again and put some pressure on Intel for even more innovation.
 

noob2222

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Point 2, the $50 AMD motherboards are just as good as that $70 Intel board, except SATA 6gb, wich is useless unless your running raid SSD. How many SSD were used in this build? 0. impact of sata 6 vs 3 .. 0.

Here is my compliant. There hasn't been an AMD build in the sbms in how long? 11 of the last 12 builds are ALL Intel and the one AMD build used a crap cpu and was an entirely bugged build (mobo bios, incompatible memory, something wasn't right) as the tests were 1/2 of the 8150 review 2 months earlier. you say this is the first "pentium" build, a technicallity as the last $500 build was a g530 wich intel calls a "celeron"

Lately some techs at Toms have put too much focus on finding games that show bottlenecks, but did discover one thing about those games. They were co-developed by Intel, sc2 being the worst offener. On skyrim, the latest patch did push better numbers, both on amd and intel. has it been re-tested? just for intel.
 

noob2222

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IMO the benchmarks put too much focus on timed demos (BF3 is an online game) How well does that dual core cpu actually work online?


the x2 560 is capable of completely being useless for online gameplay, but in the single player campaign, its right there with the rest. Even the Atlon X2 was capable of single player.

http://www.techspot.com/review/458-battlefield-3-performance/page7.html

Even if its not reliable, you should at least try to play online and see if it even works.

 

abitoms

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agree with a few comments above about using an AMD CPU...

Swapping the G860 for a FX 4100 and a Radeon 7770 *might'* have provided an interesting contrast to the above $500 system.

4100 would have added $20 to the cost, and the Radeon 7770 would have shaved $45 from the cost --> effective, a save of $25
(I am neutral to AMD and nVidia but NV doesn't have a competitor to the 7770 now).

I will assume a similar-priced MB for AMD and Intel

I guess productivity would have gone up for the quad-core FX system while games would have favoured the NV560 by 20%. I can only speculate
 


I've seen two benchmarks of this phenomenon with Bulldozer and they are what I based my numbers on. I still have the link to one of them, but I lost the other. I have never found a link that disproves this either.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/21865/2

The performance difference generally ranged from 10-20%, but keep in mind that the configuration that worked in the way that I mentioned was running at a lower frequency than the other two masks and that this was not the best implementation of this concept.

AMD's sockets have actually been fairly fine from AM2+ to AM3+. The AM3 CPUs are backwards compatible with AM2+ and forwards compatible with AM3+, so although there are considerably many sockets with AMD, they are mostly compatible in some way. The AM3 CPUs are as inter-compatible between sockets as CPUs can really get within practicality. So although AMD might make a new socket more than once every other generation, they are often forwards and/or backwards compatible. AM2 works in AM2+, I think that AM2+ works in AM2 (although I'm not sure), AM3 works in AM2+, although it then uses DDR2 memory (not a problem because AM3 CPUs have a DDR2 memory controller in addition to its DDR3 memory controller specifically for this), AM3 works in AM3+, and to an extent, AM3+ works in AM3, although it loses some of its power features.

With the improvements that Trinity alone has shown, I have no doubtes that Steamroller or its successor will be able to at least meet IB in performance. Heck, Trinity cut the difference between Llano and SB in half on the mobile side, another generation with a similar improvement could meat SB and another generation could see AMD topping IB no problem even on the desktop side by decent margins.
 
[citation][nom]abitoms[/nom]agree with a few comments above about using an AMD CPU...Swapping the G860 for a FX 4100 and a Radeon 7770 *might'* have provided an interesting contrast to the above $500 system.4100 would have added $20 to the cost, and the Radeon 7770 would have shaved $45 from the cost --> effective, a save of $25(I am neutral to AMD and nVidia but NV doesn't have a competitor to the 7770 now).I will assume a similar-priced MB for AMD and IntelI guess productivity would have gone up for the quad-core FX system while games would have favoured the NV560 by 20%. I can only speculate[/citation]

I think that going down to a 7770 might be going too far into the lower mid-range. The 7770 has some good overclocking headroom, but it can't match the 560 TI's overclocking headroom. I'd rather go on down to a Phenom II x4 anyway. The Phenom II x4 830 is going for like $85 at Newegg and that's cheap enough to not need to get a weaker graphics card. A cheaper motherboard (shouldn't be a problem with AMD) should still have plenty of overclocking headroom, depending on the model, so getting a cheaper board might allow room for a decent after-market cooler.

After the 7850's price drops, it will be a perfect replacement for the 560 in such a build too.
 
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