System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: Our New Enthusiast PC

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bemused_fred

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Could we have one of these where you compare 3 or 4 different machines at a fixed budget of, say, $1,000 (or maybe up to $1,250) with a variety of CPUs.I'm thinking a selection of CPUs as a fixed starting point, and GPU decisions based on remaining budget. Maybe an i7, i5, FX-8, and an APU.Would be really interesting to see the performance differences across workloads by allocating budget between CPU and other components.
I can tell you what would happen if you had a fixed budget with the CPU's switched in and out: the one with the best CPU-to-GPU balance would come out top on the gaming benchmarks, and the others would all be bottlenecked. And if you need a whole system builder marathon comparison to figure out the same thing, maybe you should do more research.
 

cheesyboy

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Could we have one of these where you compare 3 or 4 different machines at a fixed budget of, say, $1,000 (or maybe up to $1,250) with a variety of CPUs.I'm thinking a selection of CPUs as a fixed starting point, and GPU decisions based on remaining budget. Maybe an i7, i5, FX-8, and an APU.Would be really interesting to see the performance differences across workloads by allocating budget between CPU and other components.
I can tell you what would happen if you had a fixed budget with the CPU's switched in and out: the one with the best CPU-to-GPU balance would come out top on the gaming benchmarks, and the others would all be bottlenecked. And if you need a whole system builder marathon comparison to figure out the same thing, maybe you should do more research.
Yes, that's basically the point

Perhaps you could point me to where I can find a lab test showing a variety of CPU and GPU combinations which help to show where the most balanced CPU and GPU ratio is for an extremely common build-budget (such as the $1,000 to $1,250 I suggested)? Because I don't think there are many of those around.

We get a single system in these quarterly build marathons, if we're lucky, but no similar comparison to help us get the balance right. If you see the number of "spec-me" threads at those sorts of budgets around all the tech forums, you'll see that this would be a very useful exercise.
 

Onus

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I also think it's cheating, but possibly in a different way; it inflates the budget. Exclude all the common items, sure, but then tighten up the remaining budget considerably. I like the idea that all parts are fair game for trade-offs in overall value.
I do recognize that you're in a no-win situation, as there will be complainers either moaning about a cheap case, or wondering if you lost your mind for not moving $30 from the case to the graphics card. Still, if you're going to avoid those things, you need to keep the budget scaled appropriately. This makes me think that tomorrow's "$750" build may actually be a $950 build, which doesn't help anyone trying to figure out what to do with $750.

 

clide005

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Makes sense
 

larkspur

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A $90 entry-level z87 motherboard in a $1500+ CPU-overclocked system. I understand - it fits your budget and is capable of OCing the CPU stably to get through the benchmark suite. But sustained overclocking on that board is a recipe for trouble down-the-road. If this was a sub-$1000 build I wouldn't make this comment. But a $1500 enthusiast-class system should be built for stability and longevity - especially when being built by such an experienced system builder. You saved about $30 over a decent OCing motherboard, but you likely created a future headache for the system's owner.I'd really like to see you guys stop using cheap boards on the more expensive systems (Crashman has even used the same cheap board twice with bad results). We always talk about balance between CPU and GPU. So let's talk about balancing an overclockable CPU with a good overclocking motherboard. I don't care that the Pro3 can stably overclock the 4770k - in a year or two the board is probably going to fail - its just not a good board for sustained overclocking. It's like selling someone a Kia Rio and telling them, "yeah its underpowered but you can just floor it all the time and it'll be fine." The Extreme3 would have been the most minimum board I would have used for this system. You can't throw out reliability and overall system longevity even though they can't be benchmarked. Someone soon will own and use this system - don't set them up for a headache. But anyway, thanks for another interesting SBM, I always look forward to these.
 

clide005

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And I can agree with both of you. My buddy and I went out a bought parts and built PC's of similar quality. I spent 1180, and he spent 2000. He went premium on everything except storage (which I thought was weird but whatever). The point being thats what makes this kind of a cool thing to have the builds out there to see how much bang you can get for you buck. And it is true you will get whiners either way. I also hope this isn't being perceived as whining, but if so that is cool. At anyrate keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing these builds as a way to spark my interest and creativity.
 

Onus

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I do like this series; definitely one of my favorite features. I haven't seen any surprises in this one yet, but I'm still contemplating, and it is the low build that I usually find most interesting.
 

ojas

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I think some people here forget that there are other countries where people may not have the same resolutions that are common with gamers and enthusiasts in the US. :) Keeping 1600x900 is perfectly fine, i think. Helps compare with the lowest-budget build.
 

bemused_fred

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I have a better idea.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/59

There you go. An absolute tonne of CPUs and how they do in different games. Knock yourself out.

 

cheesyboy

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How is giving me a bunch of benchmarks of CPUs paired with a high end GPU going to show "where the most balanced CPU and GPU ratio is for an extremely common build-budget (such as the $1,000 to $1,250 I suggested)" ?

If we're just going to look at a load of separate CPU and GPU benchmarks, what would the point be of the system builder marathon even in its current form? Why not just look up benches for the GPU and CPU and cut out the build?

What is actually your issue with my suggestion?
 

ta152h

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Like everything except Windows 8.1. Still rely on win7
Remember this is for performance in gaming. You can't use an obsolete OS like Windows 7 for that, because you're throwing performance out the window (forgive the pun).Of course for office use, and productivity, Windows 8 and 8.1 are a big problem if you have to train people to use the horrible interface, but for gaming, you need that extra performance from Windows 8.1.
 

RedJaron

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I don't get some of the decisions here. It just seems like you went munchkin and min/maxed for benchmarks but not so much for real-world use. You added the i7 for the multi-threaded tests. But it seems to me that most people who would want/need that much compute power would also need more than 500GB storage, particularly for long term use. The storage just doesn't feel balanced on this machine.

I also think discounting certain components from the cost and value calculations feels a bit . . . dishonest. I think I understand what you're trying to do, but if you're going to do this in the future, then I would suggest you shrink the "performance" budget as well.

And I say a case IS a performance enhancing component as proper ventilation and cooling can have notable impacts on OCing results.
 

grokem

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I'm really in favor of splitting the components into performance based and peripheral. For the same reasons you didn't include keyboards, mice, etc. in past builds it makes no sense to include DVD, BRay, OS, card readers, etc in the core build costs. Think of these as optional extras that you can decide to add to the core build if you want. I am however, surprised you split out the case. I guess it's almost in a section of it's own in that I could have put this exact build into a mITX case. So it does make some sense.Net time I think you should leverage the new format and start including keyboards, mice and other peripherals you would personally pair with the build. Since they don't count toward cost, they give you a good chance to talk about your favorite keyboard, etc without impacting the core of what you build.
 

youssef 2010

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Nice build. If I were offered the choice, I'd take the 780Ti build because a performance difference of 10% is not encouraging enough to switch to SLI. I'd also be avoiding all the problems associated with multi-card configurations
 
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