System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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DryCreamer

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scratch that single core comment... but you know you've all sat there late at night... in your underwear... pricing out a new build wondering and thinking if you can live with an 'ol Celey because you don't want to have to wait until next month to get more money to bump up to a better CPU...

I love the fact that they did this for the value build, at least once, just to show us what would happen!

Dry
 

Did you know that passmark is completely false? :lol:
FX-6100 outperforming a phenom 1100T and 1st gen i7's? What a joke.
 
For gaming, an A6 APU would only beat the Celeron G530 as a CPU if its HD 6530D IGP was disabled and it was overclocked heavily. A8s aren't in the same price range and A4s wouldn't beat the G530, so neither of them are worth considering.
 

pauldh

Illustrious

For a game-focused build like this, yes. Regarding the A6-3650, I'd much rather game on a cheaper (boxed) Pentium G850.

As others have pointed out, I think you are way overestimating the gaming abilities of Llano, and underestimating dual-core Sandy Bridge.

Check this story: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-10.html

The A8-3870K finished way below a Pentium G630. Too bad a G530 wasn't in the mix. In fact, even overclocked to 3.6GHz, it still wasn't very impressive. Why double this rig's CPU budget to step over, or down to a 3650?
 


Actually, that has me curious... A 20% overclock on the A8-3870K most certainly did give it a fairly 20% bonus in frame rates in the tested games. With its IGP completely disabled, it should then be able to go a lot further than 3.6GHz. For CPU performance, an A6 would probably have similar performance at the same clock frequency to the A8. It could be an almost decent contender. An A6 or A8 at 4.5GHz (assuming that we reach that far) would sit right between a 4GHz Phenom II x4 and the stock i5-2400. However, if we were to talk about AMD being in on this, I'd say that the Phenom II x2s and x3s have the best shot at the Celeron G530 of AMD's current CPUs, especially if they are successfully unlocked into full quad core Phenom II CPUs.

Regardless, for where it is, the G530 might be unbeatable for average gaming performance, performance per dolar in gaming, and performance per watt in gaming, although a decent triple or quad core would likely be superior in the few games that are almost dependent on them, such as BF3 MP.
 

ivyanev

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While g530 is champion in price/performance at 50$ ,that is not the case when you consider system $$$.If you swap the g530 with i5 2400 you will have a real winner in price/performance ,even with a broken budget.

Anyway , it is good build ,with great potential for upgrade.
 

evga_fan

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Got the G530 for my office machine a few months ago. Gotta say, it's a quick little thing!

Also, I think there is much more to the SB Celerons than you may think. Many people overlook these things.
Starting from the G530T and up there is not that much differing from the Pentiums (1 MB more Cache and support for higher speed RAM...Big deal?!).
As a matter of fact (sticking my head out here), the i3's "only" add HT to the mix! Granted that does impact performance quite a bit but still!
We're talking chips around $40-50, amazing value!

Glad I made the right call (at least T.H. agrees). On a side note, I have had AMD cpus before but that stock fan just drove me crazy. Anytime i opened a window or such the fan just ramped up and made it unbearable! This one though, much quieter. I can even max out D3 on 1680x1050 without too much noise.
 

pauldh

Illustrious


I'm not saying, the A6 couldn't game once overclocked, not at all. It just hasn't been high on my list for a pure gaming system on a budget using discrete graphics. Doing this only quarterly, I've had too long a list of what I'd like to build at the two recent budget levels. But for the first time in ages, I'm totally undecided which general direction(system goals/platform) I hope to go for the next build. More CPU for sure, at least once overclocked. There are just TOO MANY good options available.

My own opinions on A6 + (discrete graphics) here - From what I can tell, once you hit 3.0 GHz, your trading blows with the G530. At 3.6 GHz, it offers decent CPU gaming performance, that would fair well in games like Metro, JC2, DiRT3, BF3 Multi-player,etc. I haven't seen talks of stable 4.5 GHz, but people are going beyond reviewed clocks, and breaking the 4 GHz mark. Can we though, justify it as the best for the money? Over Intel and AMD FX, PHII, and AII ?

You are then generally talking more basic platform money for the A6-3650, $20 cooler, (more)mobo (with HTT headroom) , and higher speed RAM. The budget will likely be $500, which I can break by reasonable margin. But I will take some heat from readers who value and are vocal towards staying within budget. That's a split though, most justify a small break. I still aim for $500 firm, for starters.

Like I said, I'm totally split on whether you'll see an overclocked AMD or locked- Intel platform next round. Feedback + pricing/availaility at the time will solely determine the direction that build goes. If you(or anyone) wants to do some research, and can piece together a winning cpu/cooler/mobo/RAM combination for under $200 on Newegg(the less the better), and point to discussions where that combo is happily gaming near 4.0GHz, then I'd much appreciate being pointed in that direction.
 

Just look at the scores. There are some unrealistic scores, such as an FX-8150 outperforming the i5-3570k, i5-2500k, and 1st gen i7's.
 

RADIO_ACTIVE

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I know its been said before and acknoledged, but there is no such thing as a $500 gaming rig, tack on another 300-400 for monitor, keyboard and mouse, windows license.
 

Onus

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I think the elephant in the room here is, good games are going to be enjoyable on less than UltraSuperMaxOhWow settings. Someone on a tight budget ought to be pretty content with "High," in which case dropping the graphics card back to a HD7770, HD6870, or GTX560 in order to get a more capable CPU (and maybe some more RAM) is the obvious choice. I am not knocking this build; like my first post on it said, it was a great experiment, especially based on its target. I just think it might be practical to adjust the target a little, in order to end up with a machine that someone would actually build.
 

pauldh

Illustrious

No, it is NOT a lie. It is 100% accurate.

Boxed G530 with cooler $50
Boxed A3650 with cooler $100
oem A6650 + better after market cooler ($80 + $20)


We have to stick to the rules here, which means Newegg pricing NOT including attractive combo deals or rebates.

And no problem; apology accepted. thanks.

Stock, the A6-3650 will fail to fill our rig's gaming needs. It's a step down in many games, and we need a step up next time. But, if we could put together a winning combo once overclocked, without sacifing much GPU, it's worthy of testing.

Problem I face is, why is it the most worthy or more worthy than a Pentium G850, or AMD's other overclockable offerings? Reader feedback will play a big part in determining the next $500 Gaming PC. So present your cases All. :)
 

pauldh

Illustrious

Agreed jtt; despite it exceeding my expectations in our SBM gaming suite, I couldn't recommend the unbalanced/ CPU-locked configuration. I shared that with the team before ordering the parts. It was still what I wanted to build for this story. Such entry-level parts can be fun.

Again, I'm intersted in feedback directing the next story. What do we want to improve next time? What are we willing to sacrifice? A gaming rig Tom's or myself would recommend building? A rig that can game at reduced settings, but targets transcoding and content creation? Perhaps even spend over $30 on the case? :eek:

For a while now I've wanted to do a mini-ITX gaming rig. One that is impressive at games, but also has the fit & finish you'd want to show off on the go, or when hooked to a big-screen. "Mind if I leave my PS3 or 360 home today. Instead wanted to show ya some Skyrim mods on your 40-inch" ..... "Oh, yeah I though you'd like it. Built it myself for $500... not bad eh" That would be my kind of "budget" gaming box right now. :D
 

Onus

Titan
Moderator
I'd love to see some mini-ITX builds. New graphics cards sip juice and run cool, and there are some decent 400W PSUs available in reduced sizes. You could even use a Lian Li case that takes a full-sized PSU, but that could be tough on a $500 budget; maybe at the $1K level.
I don't mind cheap cases, in fact I rather like the particular Rosewill m-ATX you used (I've also used it). For overclocking, it might need a front fan added, which is another $6. What I don't like though, are junk cases. No more Logisys please (or Apevia, or Raidmax).
I'd also like to see a pair of HD7770s in a build. The benchmarks I've seen put them around the GTX570 level, for around $280-$300. They also OC well. The killer will be those games that still don't scale with multiple cards, but the pleasant surprise will be the power consumption.
 

RedJaron

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Ok Paul, here's feedback from this user on the next SBM, though I left similar remarks in the other SBM threads.

First, I'll admit I'd be really curious what a Llano/Trinity budget build could do. I think a lot of others would be curious too. Though, yes, you'll likely take a fair bit of flak for such a build, saying that Intel CPUs at that price point would be better. But, hey, if you did an experiment this time, no reason you can't do another next quarter, right?

Jtt also mirrors my thoughts on balance at the $500 point. There may be a few people that want to max-out graphics at 1080p on a $500 budget, but I think most people are a little more reasonable in what they want from a computer for this much. I agree that maybe the $500 machine should aim for High detail at 1080p, but not max/ultra. While that's admirable bragging rights, I think it's more niche than anything. No, a $500 build will never be aimed at professional content work, but I think a lot of people use them as a springboard to something better in the next year or two. So maybe the $500 category should be about best performance with the best upgrade path, something that's good enough for now, but is only a minor upgrade away from being a solid mid-range machine.

Finally, I'd really like to see the SBMs shift some of the focus to "fit and finish" as you put it. It may not really be feasible at the $500 point, but I think the other two should be able to fit some kind of polish in their respective budgets. The dream machine from last SBM really impressed me. Not only did it flex considerable horsepower, it had that je ne sais quois that made it look good and makes a builder proud. Yes, I'd like to see a little extra spent on cases and maybe some peripherals like card readers, drive docks, and other utility features. I know those types of things will hurt the performance benchmarks since you can't quantifiably measure something like "polish" or "ease of use." But doing this, the SBM would represent a more complete build rather than just maximum horsepower for the money
 
[citation][nom]amuffin[/nom]Just look at the scores. There are some unrealistic scores, such as an FX-8150 outperforming the i5-3570k, i5-2500k, and 1st gen i7's.[/citation]

Passmark is fully threaded. The FX-8150 can fly past an i5 in some software that uses eight threads and I wouldn't be surprised to see it beating first gen i7s in this either. Even second gen i7s can barely beat it in highly threaded software, although they are far more power efficient.

[citation][nom]RADIO_ACTIVE[/nom]I know its been said before and acknoledged, but there is no such thing as a $500 gaming rig, tack on another 300-400 for monitor, keyboard and mouse, windows license.[/citation]

Windows can be had for free (legally) very easily if you know how. If you know any college students, then you can get Windows for free if they are in a college that Microsoft Dreamspark works with (pretty much all US colleges, I don't know how it goes with foreign colleges) and if not, then you can simply use an eval copy. I have an eval copy of Windows Server 2008r2 x64 that I downloaded strait from Microsoft. You can have a single copy for over a year before it needs a code and at that time, there are several things that you can do to keep it longer without paying for it and all legally. Keyboard and mouse can be had for $5 to $15 and most people who win this already have a keyboard and mouse anyway, so no big deal. If not, then they can most certainly afford to buy a keyboard and mouse. However, considering that most people on this site already have a computer and any gamers looking for a new desktop, even a low-budget one, would already have peripherals.

Now the monitor I can kinda agree with when it comes to the $1K and $2K builds because a lot of people here probably don't have a 2560x1600 monitor or something like that and such a monitor could cost as much as the builds themselves, but with the $500 desktop... Again, chances are that people have a monitor that would be appropriate for its performance. Even up to a 1080p monitor is getting common now and even if you didn't have one, chances are that you at least have a 1600x900 or 1440x900. Sure, they wouldn't be ideal (especially for this computer), but they are something.

However, a monitor would be a good way to spend the $650 budget without people complaining about that being too high for the computer itself, so maybe we can just bump up the budget and include the monitor and if we do that, then peripherals would make sense too, but I still hold to my word about saying that they aren't really necessary as something that should be included in the computer. There could be a $500 budget for the machine itself and a $150 for peripherals. How does that sound, pauldh?

 
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]No, it is NOT a lie. It is 100% accurate.Boxed G530 with cooler $50Boxed A3650 with cooler $100oem A6650 + better after market cooler ($80 + $20)We have to stick to the rules here, which means Newegg pricing NOT including attractive combo deals or rebates. And no problem; apology accepted. thanks.Stock, the A6-3650 will fail to fill our rig's gaming needs. It's a step down in many games, and we need a step up next time. But, if we could put together a winning combo once overclocked, without sacifing much GPU, it's worthy of testing. Problem I face is, why is it the most worthy or more worthy than a Pentium G850, or AMD's other overclockable offerings? Reader feedback will play a big part in determining the next $500 Gaming PC. So present your cases All.[/citation]

One thing going for Llano over Athlon II is that it's a 32nm die shrink with slightly faster cores, so it's probably much more overclocking friendly and power efficient than Athlon II. Also, I don't know if it's true for Llano, but the boxed coolers for the FX CPUs are usually good enough at cooling to overclock to 4.3GHz to 4.6GHz, even for the FX-8xxx models, albeit they are loud. With Llano, keep in mind that if you disable the IGP for overclocking, your dropping its power usage greatly. I think that Llano could do very well as a CPU only part in overclocking on its stock cooler. AMD's coolers are loud, but at least with the FX coolers, they are good at cooling for high overclocks within safe enough temps. I'm willing to bet that at least 4GHz is doable on stock Llano coolers. I can't fix the budget for the APU itself, but I think that the after-market cooler is unnecessary. Another thing that the APU has going for it is that it would consistently beat the G530 whereas the G530 would lose to even a stock A6 or A8 with a high enough frequency in something like BF3 MP even though the G530 wins in most other situations against a stock A6 or A8.

Basically, Athlon II can't beat Llano in this sort of budget build. Phenom II, however, might be a different story if you can find a Phenom II x2 or x3 at the right price and unlock it to an x4. Problem then is the combination of having to find them and the poor chances of a successful unlocking of all locked cores. Llano might be AMD's only semi-competitive option here against the G530 at this time and I think that this's obviously a shaky competition at best.
 
[citation][nom]jtt283[/nom]I'd love to see some mini-ITX builds. New graphics cards sip juice and run cool, and there are some decent 400W PSUs available in reduced sizes. You could even use a Lian Li case that takes a full-sized PSU, but that could be tough on a $500 budget; maybe at the $1K level.I don't mind cheap cases, in fact I rather like the particular Rosewill m-ATX you used (I've also used it). For overclocking, it might need a front fan added, which is another $6. What I don't like though, are junk cases. No more Logisys please (or Apevia, or Raidmax).I'd also like to see a pair of HD7770s in a build. The benchmarks I've seen put them around the GTX570 level, for around $280-$300. They also OC well. The killer will be those games that still don't scale with multiple cards, but the pleasant surprise will be the power consumption.[/citation]

Two reference 7770s*, when they have proper driver support, will be far faster than the GTX 570. Two reference 7750s*, with proper driver support, will be more in-line with the GTX 570. I don't know if the latest Catalyst driver, 12.6, addressed the poorish driver support for 7700 CF, but if it did, then 7700 CF is powerful for what it is. Two 7770s in CF meet or beat two 6870s in CF if they have proper driver support and two of the highly factory overclocked 7770s can beat the reference Radeon 7970 in many situations. Manually overclocking, two 7770s are incredibly powerful for the sub $300 price point. This situation is typical of the value of low end cards versus high end cards with AMD (Nvidia seems to like overpricing their low end cards and this doesn't always apply to Nvidia because of that). For example, two 6770s could fight the 6970 in performance despite the 6770 CF both being far cheaper and using less power.

The problem then is the lack of upgrade path that doesn't involve replacing the graphics instead of simply upgrading it.

* I'm talking about the initial reference 7770s and 7750s, not the new reference ones with the voltage bumped up a little and the frequency bumped up too. So, 1GHz 7770s as reference 7770s and 800MHz 7750s as reference 7750s. The new reference ones would be between the most highly factory overclocked models of each card and the old reference models of each card, leaning a little closer to the factory overclocks than the old reference.
 


CPU performance per watt, Llano beats Phenom II and Athlon II. CPU performance per Hz, Llano slightly beats Athlon II, but Phenom II beats Llano, although not as much as it is beaten in power efficiency by Llano. L3 cache can make quite a difference, especially since the cores in Llano have something like 5% or 6% higher IPC than Phenom II's cores, yet Phenom II beats Llano in performance per Hz anyway.

DVI and HDMI use the exact same digital signaling, so there should not be a problem with the DVI port when it is used as a DVI-D instead of a DVI-A, which uses the same analogue signaling as the VGA/D-Sub connector. If there is a problem, then chances are that the DVI port is somehow being used incorrectly.

Otherwise... Yes to all, except maybe for the 6870. Some highly factory overclocked 7770s are just about on-par with the 6870 and the 7770 can be pushed pretty far past even that in overclocking. I don't think that the 6870 can really beat the 7770 and since the 7770 can be both cheaper and much more power efficient than the 6870 while performing similarly, that's pretty advantageous. Maybe, like another suggested earlier, we can have 7770CF in the next $1K build. With a 6870 in the next $500 build, a side comparison between the 6870 and 7770 could be made to clear anything up between them, just to be sure either way. Both builds would still be great and we'd get a deeper look into both the 7770 and how it stacks up against the 6870 with recent drivers without sacrificing something in either build other than that the $1K build would be less upgradable.
 


Heh, the only other AMD setup that I really want to look into is an FX-8120 with only one core from each module in use. There's conclusive proof now that shows that this can give a nearly 20% performance boost in single threaded performance per module, so with one core per module, it might actually provide gaming performance representative of it's midway between i3 and i5 price. Basically, it would probably overclock further than the FX-4100 with the same amount of active cores while using a little less power and while providing considerably more performance per clock. LOL, we could have the $1K machine testing both this concept and the 7770 CF concept. That would leave budget room for a much more balanced computer (8GB of RAM, better case, etc. etc.). Overclocking, the CPU should be able to meet or beat the i5-2400 in this build and the 7770s would also have a lot of headroom, so it could be a fun machine to play with and to really see Bulldozer gaming at it's max potential instead of the thus-far dismal showing that it's had.

Also, I saw my mistake in my above comment and edited to make a different point.
 


$179 for a CPU that should be right with the slightly more expensive regular i5s in overclocking performance if you do the little mod that I suggested and I was suggesting that it be tried in the next $1Kish build, not the $500ish build. It's just something to try out.

On the DVI question, maybe. I wouldn't expect it to be the problem so long as you use the digital signaling on the DVI port, but maybe. It's something to look into.
 

demonhorde665

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are you guys f---ing kidding us? ... a celeron ... christ , you dudes seem to pander more to intel all the time
this system is just terrible and leaves NO room to upgrade at all.
replace that cpu/mobo and vid card with this

AMD A6-3670K Unlocked Llano 2.7GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6530D AD3670WNGXBOX $104.99

ASRock A75 PRO4-M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS $ 84.99

PowerColor AX7770 1GBD5-2DH Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0
$ 129.99

The cpu sports 4 cores,and has unlocked multiplier so it can be easily overclocked after new eat sink bought
the video card while not as powerful as a 560 ti it is close enough
the big winner here is the main board it has 4 ram slots so ram can be upgraded and has two pci-e slots so a budget builder could easily toss another radeon 7770 into the build later.

best of all , this vid card/cpu/mobo combo only weighs in at 314.97 bucks , thats about 5 dollars shy of what your config comes it at (320)

its simple NO builder gamer or otherwise throws a system together with out any though to upgrading , which amazingly is what you did with your built, the thing would be outdated and non upgradable with in a year.

my changes still focus on graphics, AND leaves massive room for upgrades, while your system only give graphics with no room to upgrade... it's a no brainer.

I know you didn't set out to do a balanced system, but neither did I on my alternate choices,my build is still heavily balanced to the video card . yet i stil had room to upgrade later in my built , if you do another alternate rig , please consider my changes in the alt rig.
 
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