System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $700 Gaming PC

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shadowryche

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Must be something wrong with my ThermalTake Toughpower 750watt, because even that had trouble running a pair of Radeon 4870 512mb cards in crossfire under heavy load. And I only had two hard drives and one optical drive. The only other expansion card I ran was a Wireless N card.
 

noob2222

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Wish there was an included SBM September in the charts, or at least a link to it. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-gaming-pc,2424.html If the numbers are consistent, and seeing how W7 is slightly faster, the september build is a tad faster with less graphic power and $50 less in the build. With the exception of max resolution, and thats the graphics card difference doing the work.

Add in the new AMD options, http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-ii-x3,2452.html, wich takes the lead for the most part over the Phenom II x2 550, I am suprised you opted for the intel chip.

That is unless you plan on doing SBMs alternating wich manufacturer is used.

Athlon II 435 with 2 4870s would kill this build at the same price.
 

qwertymac93

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So we are back to an intel only marathon again. i guess it was silly of me to expect at least ONE system to have an amd cpu in it. it would have been interesting to see the athlon 620+ddr3 be put in the $700 pc, it would have been a nice "are 4 better then 2?" comparison with Septembers build. would have been nice to see dual 5750s in the $700 pc too, but availability and bla bla, i know. with all those modifications though, it would have been closer to a $800pc :(. On a side note, any thoughts on nzxt beta evo vs antec two hundred?
 

darthfett

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It seems to me that in a budget computer, you are not going to be paying huge amounts for a large monitor. Why use 2 graphics cards when one will do for a smaller monitor. Games these days are still pretty CPU heavy.
 

rdawise

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[citation][nom]noob2222[/nom]Wish there was an included SBM September in the charts, or at least a link to it. http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,2424.html If the numbers are consistent, and seeing how W7 is slightly faster, the september build is a tad faster with less graphic power and $50 less in the build. With the exception of max resolution, and thats the graphics card difference doing the work.Add in the new AMD options, http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,2452.html, wich takes the lead for the most part over the Phenom II x2 550, I am suprised you opted for the intel chip. That is unless you plan on doing SBMs alternating wich manufacturer is used.Athlon II 435 with 2 4870s would kill this build at the same price.[/citation]


You beat me to this.

Have to wonder why the author used a dead socket with no upgrade path.
 

snorojr

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5750 availability problem ???? you gottas be joking, i had no problem having my hd 5770 while the 5850 where nowhere findable. They could seriously have took the 57xx serie route and the 5750 and 5770 are doing very good in crossfire setup. Sometime with the big overclock margin they have, a pair 5770 can beat a pair of 4890 in crossfire.
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]noob2222[/nom]Wish there was an included SBM September in the charts, or at least a link to it. http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,2424.html [/citation]
Last round’s data was left out of the charts because of the migration to Windows 7 and updated benchmark versions. However, a link to the September $650 PC was provided in the opening paragraph of the intro, and comparisons made throughout the data analysis.
[citation][nom]noob2222[/nom]
If the numbers are consistent, and seeing how W7 is slightly faster, the september build is a tad faster with less graphic power and $50 less in the build. With the exception of max resolution, and thats the graphics card difference doing the work. [/citation]
The gaming benchmarks are especially comparable, and yes as we note, this rig was behind the Sep PII at the lower settings/resolution and had a graphics advantage taking over at the higher settings. But note, the September build was MORE expensive when this system was ordered, not $50 cheaper. Had we opted to use up this whole “price adjustment” budget and build a $750 machine, a kit of CAS 5 DDR2 (like the AMD build) would have done this one wonders, even more so than expected.
[citation][nom]noob2222[/nom]
I am suprised you opted for the intel chip. That is unless you plan on doing SBMs alternating wich manufacturer is used. [/citation]Bingo; Notice all AMD last round even at the high end, and all Intel this round, even at the low end. Something we wanted to try, but will not be continuing.
[citation][nom]noob2222[/nom]
Athlon II 435 with 2 4870s would kill this build at the same price. [/citation]
That is exactly the plan for next round, although getting a pair of 4870s will likely not be an option. At $87, pairing with an aftermarket cooler will then raise the CPU+cooler budget a bit over the $102 from Sep, or the $92 from December. One of the goals set for this Intel rig back in September was to keep an equal CPU budget to last round, and if possible put the extra money into a graphics step up, although more along the lines of 4850 1GB not 4870’s. There was nothing exciting to challenge the PII at stock clocks, instead the focus was on an aftermarket cooler and better OC. Unfortunately this E5300 was a bit of a dud compared to previous E5200’s.

I wouldn’t say the 435 would kill these past two rigs though. I suspect it will trade blows in the apps, and likely take a few nice wins(at low res) in the games.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]snorojr[/nom]5750 availability problem ???? you gottas be joking, i had no problem having my hd 5770 while the 5850 where nowhere findable. They could seriously have took the 57xx serie route and the 5750 and 5770 are doing very good in crossfire setup. Sometime with the big overclock margin they have, a pair 5770 can beat a pair of 4890 in crossfire.[/citation]
Nothing available around $125 could come close to this 4870, or a pair for $250. 5700's were available, but overpriced and out of budget. Why pay significantly more for 5750's and get less performance? Where would you have shaved an extra $40-50 from this budget to even pay for 4750's?
 

nikaan

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clearly amd is the best choice for this price & i dont understand why they choosed intel platform

i gusse they love intel or ...
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]saeedxfx[/nom]hiprice per hd4870 is 230$and for 2 hd4870=460$but in your table is 250$how?[/citation]
As the text spells out, the system was configured at $701, and purchased at $722. Those who paid attention to Newegg GPU pricing will these 4870's were in and out of stock at $125.

But you are right, 4870's are about gone now. $175 each (before rebate)buys you an IceQ 1GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161292&cm_re=hd_4870-_-14-161-292-_-Product

A $220 pair of 4770's are a step down in performance, but offer good value and keep the system within budget. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150369&cm_re=HD_4770-_-14-150-369-_-Product

Or take advantage of falling 5750 prices.
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]nikaan[/nom]clearly amd is the best choice for this price & i dont understand why they choosed intel platformi gusse they love intel or ...[/citation]
No love for either, but we decided to give both a shot at each price point during these past two rounds. Read the conclusion and clearly you should see you assumption on love is wrong.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]qwertymac93[/nom]So we are back to an intel only marathon again. i guess it was silly of me to expect at least ONE system to have an amd cpu in it. it would have been interesting to see the athlon 620+ddr3 be put in the $700 pc, it would have been a nice "are 4 better then 2?" comparison with Septembers build. would have been nice to see dual 5750s in the $700 pc too, but availability and bla bla, i know. with all those modifications though, it would have been closer to a $800pc . On a side note, any thoughts on nzxt beta evo vs antec two hundred?[/citation]
Were you equally upset to see three AMD builds last round? Let's keep things in perspective please.

There's potential to get either the X3 735 or X4 620, and a pair of 5750s into the next round, this will likely call for an $800 PC.

Reader input will help decide if we need more flexibility in this system's budget to build such a rig, or if we should lower the budget back to the $500-600 range and focus on lower resolutions and a single GPU. Time will tell, but we value your feedback and aim to cover the price ranges readers want to see.
 

pauldh

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@ qwerty - forgot the case. Biggest drawback for me with the beta evo is the supplied cooling. There's potential for big airflow, but adding exhaust fans to complement the single (included) intake fan could be costly.
 

technuttso

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Congratulatins for the effort! But.....

U have here 2 nice articles on how to build a balanced gaming PC. All lost time, i may say after reading the last 2 marathon builds of this year.
This last build for example a waste of money ,time and intellectual resources. What point in a building based on a clumsy Core Duo,even nicely overclocked paired with 2 quite powerful video cards if is not doing a good job at hi resolution. What for a 4870 CF? One single 4890 slightly overclocked combined with a Core Due Quad (if u stick with Intel by force ) is enough powerful to handle some good frames on hi res with the option on a later add for a CF in case of high demanding games to come next year. Or get the AMD way to build a good gaming machine on a budget. Is more common sense. And a budget machine is not meant to run games on a 2560x1600 display...is just not a budget display anymore. I hope is the last time that i see this nice CPU e 5xxx series on a gaming machine with modern games on hi res. U are specialists here with a tech magazine to run, i expect something more elaborated and realistic on your technical articles.
If the budget don't fit anymore change the budget, is ok.

Anyway there are some changes to do in order to remain a good credible hardware magazine. Now u are more like some gossip PChardware magazine with some rare good reviews. Even the forum is going down despite the efforts of some good guys that have like a "second job" here and they do the best to moderate and\or answer to many "crazy" questions and problems.
 
G

Guest

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I don't get your guides, you keep talking about buying two graphic cards. Why the hell would I want two graphic cards, if I'm ONE user with ONE PC ? It just doesn't ass up, maybe you can't do maths or maybe you're some kind of two-headed, four-eyed mutant I relal don't get it.
 

skora

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I'm going say this budget needs to be backed off a bit. When the goal is to show an entry level gaming system, it should automatically limit this to a single GPU subsystem unless you're using 2 GPUs that cost significantly less just to see. If I'm trying to build a gaming rig for as little as possible, there's no way I'd consider 2xGPUs.

Don't listen to all the conjecture about should have done this, should have done that. These articles are very useful in the sole fact that they think outside the box and challenge the perceived status quo. The only way to know if popular opinion is correct is to test the unpopular. Anyone spending enough time to doing research and some forum help can develop a safe build. These systems will find some great solutions, but more often than not, find flaws so we the readers/users, can avoid those mistakes. Thanks for saving our butts.
 

pauldh

Illustrious

Thanks for the feedback.

I sure don't agree this is a waste. Keep in mind, with a $70 dual core, this December PC was designed to fail at stock clocks.... it's pure intent was to be overclocked and fit in big graphics. It put up by far the best 19x12 numbers to date for our budget gaming PC's. I think you may be a bit surprised when part 3 of the balanced pc series(overclocking) rolls around.

Any of the Core 2 Quad's are far more expensive CPU's than we have put into the budget gaming PC leaving too little GPU budget for graphics. I wouldn't bother with a stock cooled Q8x00 and a sacrifice in GPU budget; it would not be a step up in gaming. A single 4890 is nice, but paired with an Athlon II, Phenom II or Core i5, depending on budget and system use.

Agreed, 2560x1600 is not even a normal SBM resolution and not any concern for this budget build; One reason 512MB cards were acceptable. I do disagree with the notion some have made that budget gamers do not care about 1920x1200. 1680x1050 - 1920x1200 are the sweet spot IMO of affordability and wow factor. Look how cheap 23" 1080P monitors are now, and at the highest details with eye candy that can take a serious amount of graphics muscle.
 

pauldh

Illustrious

Thanks; It's hard to cover sub $1000 gaming on just one system and I value both the $500-600 build you speak of, as well as the far more capable $750-850 build also. Both are being considered and we appreciate your feedback. Another option that varies slightly is the upgradeable $600-650 PC, built with a single GPU but with a mobo all set for a second.

The only change I would now have made in this Intel system would be spend the extra $17 on DDR2-1066, especially since the mobo increase raised the $700.68 system anyway. This would still have kept the system under the cost of re-building the Sep $650 PC. We didn't get lucky with an easy 4.0GHz CPU like in the past, but I was a bit surprised to learn (through further testing) just how much the RAM hurt the OC gaming performance. Minimal difference at 25x16, but a notable difference in the other resolutions. With that RAM, the system would have accomplished all the goals set for it.
 

airgreek

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Great job. I LOVE reading these type of articles but not as much as "Building a balanced PC" I would have opted for this cooler instead http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065

I would have also went with a single 4870 and went with a Q9550 purchased from Micro Center brand new retail for $170. It is amazing the kind of prices on CPU's Micro Center has like the I5 for $150, the I7 920 for $200, etc. I would have also went with the Antec 300 for $55 shipped free. As always keep up the great work and please release part III and part IV of "building a balanced PC" pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaase
 

pauldh

Illustrious

That depends. I don't see a 23" 1080P or even 24" 19x12 out of the question for a budget minded gamer. Of course, that's only if the budget allows a graphics solution to match. Often a single 4800 series GPU means reducing details or disabling AA.

Game benchmarking does seem quite CPU limited to an extent, but an overclocked E5300 can still get the job done in almost all cases.

Try Crysis or Stalker:CS at max even without AA, and OC'ed E5300 + Dual 4870 will do far better at 16x10 or 19x12 than a i7 920 + single 4870, and do it for far less money.

Check out 16x10 Very High in Crysis (or 19x12 in Stalker) for an examples:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-balanced-platform,2469-8.html
 

gabitu

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i am not an amd boy, but to see all the systems with intel cpu-s...that hurts the feeling of the amd guys.another thing, why getting that motherboard (106$ p45 dfi)when u can get onother one for much less, an p45 mobo u can get now for 75-80 $.But if u want to stick with the plan spending 105$ for the mobo then get the 110$ x48 dfi( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813136052 )
BTW newegg is different now, 3 days shipping is not that anymore. So i personally started to shop with another e-tailers(buy.com, zipzoomfly.com etc)
 
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