System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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zugzug_64

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[citation][nom]g-unit1111[/nom]I personally would have gone for an A10-5800K with a 7770 and a Noctua cooler and seen how far I could overclock it. I've seen reports of the 5800K being taken beyond 7+ GHz. It would be kind of cool to see a $500 PC do that.[/citation]

Uhm, yea...that ain't happenin' on an air cooler...
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]americanbrian[/nom]Did you try disabling windows AERO to see if this was the cause of the high IDLE power? I suspect it could be something to do with it...[/citation]
Well, Aero and Transparency is all a bit different in Windows 8. Yes, we may have bumped into a kink involving Windows 8's use of GPU acceleration. Haven't got around to it yet, but I had hoped to load up Win 7, and see if the problem dissappeared or could at least be more easily solved.
 
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Man, it's hard sticking to that $500 budget. It just goes to show that there's a real sweet spot somewhere around $600-$700, where a more capable CPU, more HDD space, and an SSD for the OS would give you a real return on your increased investment.
 

dscudella

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PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-DGS Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($61.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($19.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.49 @ SuperBiiz)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($174.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Rosewill REDBONE U3 ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec 450W ATX12V Power Supply ($31.64 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $507.05


$7 over the $500 budget. I'd do some extra chores or grab an extra hour of work or something to make up the difference.

Edit: The Pentium G2120, while being cheaper than the i3-2100 has the same clock speed, same cache and will have a slight edge performance wise in gaming. The 7850 2gb won't bottleneck at higher resolutions where as the 1gb will. I would have rather liked 8gb, but with 4gb you'll be fine for gaming now and later on could upgrade to 2x4gb or upgrade the motherboard to a Z77, i5-3500K and grab another 2x2gb and have 8gb total.

Just my thoughts.
 

Onus

Titan
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[citation][nom]dscudella[/nom]PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / BenchmarksCPU:
[/citation]
/TILT/
The SBMs are sponsored by Newegg, so Newegg prices only.
 

pauldh

Illustrious



Yes, we could have gone with a $50 H61 and still grabbed a 7850 2GB. We could not have gone B75 (as others have suggested) without dropping to 4GB RAM (still a solid choice). Honestly $12 isn’t much for doubling system RAM, and some of these tests this time claimed a 1.5GB RAM drive. What it comes down to is the price when you order. I grabbed one of the two available $170 1GB models, while most were $175 and up. Currently, you could step up to the 2GB PowerColor for $15 more, or $20 more than the now cheapest 1GB. Each individual's needs determine if that's $15-20 well spent. For texture-modded Skyrim, I'd say yes it is.

A $500 GB drive was $5 more this time, or better yet an extra $10-20 would have grabbed 1-1.5 TB. Again, speaking the obvious… that will fluctuate day to day.



The 965BE wasn't even available for our build.



Yeah, by now I know you would, and I may have considered it had we not heard X4 750K should be available in quantity. I mean, I’d hate to spend $20-30 more for graphics we’d be disabling anyway. But it would have put us at least $10 over, or even $20 if done right. Still, this Pentium was $20 less than our last G860, a very hard fact to ignore. Next time?

Thanks. Yep, $0.92 over, same as August, and $1 more than in June. I’m still liking what $600-800 could do. :D


Again, Thank you. I/we try each time, but are sometimes dealt more significant improvement opportunites than during others. Hard to argue against 7850 (1GB or 2GB).
 

internetlad

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My two cents:

Who needs an optical anymore? I game quite a bit and since I started using Steam several years ago, I have no need for disc-based media besides possibly to burn CDs to listen to in the car, and most new models come with a line-in for your phone or mp3 player nowadays.

Save an easy 20 bucks (every dollar counts, that could have been the difference between a 320 Blue HDD and a 500/TB Black drive.) and put the kaibosh on the optical. Install windows 7/8 from a USB stick (As simple as uncompressing an ISO onto a USB nowadays) and if you ever DO need to use an optical, keep a single USB optical drive for all the devices in the house, or move the data to a USB.
 

pauldh

Illustrious


Agreed. Just popping in an i5 would be very nice. However, we'd have to weigh that against other (component) funding options. *see below*

[citation][nom]Teramedia[/nom]It would be interesting to have follow-ups for each of the three SBM competitors where the builder is given an incremental $100 and asked what he would have changed in the build. [/citation]

Oh, I like that, but it’s not going to happen. We do occasionally get one shot at a single or new budget (a 4th bonus-build). Personally, I can tell you I’d be torn. For starters, I’d like: another $10-15 for a 1TB HDD, another $15-20 for an HD 7850 2GB, and then a SSD, even if limited to just a small boot or Smart Response drive. However these improvements ignore half of our test suite and value rating, and would not please everyone. A Core-i5 alone, even locked, would do wonders for us in productivity and content creation. And then, that extra $100 opens up a whole slew of $100-130 CPU options to explore in between, from both AMD and Intel. Are you happy just playing on your PC (locked Intel), or do you also enjoy playing with it (tweaking/OC - unlocked/AMD)?



Tell me about it! :( Every single time I'm reminded what just a bit more funding could do. I’d say it would be a great addition to occasionally add a $600-800 bonus build to the mix.
 
[citation][nom]dscudella[/nom]PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / BenchmarksCPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($89.99 @ NCIX US) Motherboard: ASRock B75M-DGS Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($61.97 @ Newegg) Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($19.99 @ Newegg) Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.49 @ SuperBiiz) Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($174.99 @ Newegg) Case: Rosewill REDBONE U3 ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Newegg) Power Supply: Antec 450W ATX12V Power Supply ($31.64 @ NCIX US) Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg) Total: $507.05$7 over the $500 budget. I'd do some extra chores or grab an extra hour of work or something to make up the difference. Edit: The Pentium G2120, while being cheaper than the i3-2100 has the same clock speed, same cache and will have a slight edge performance wise in gaming. The 7850 2gb won't bottleneck at higher resolutions where as the 1gb will. I would have rather liked 8gb, but with 4gb you'll be fine for gaming now and later on could upgrade to 2x4gb or upgrade the motherboard to a Z77, i5-3500K and grab another 2x2gb and have 8gb total. Just my thoughts.[/citation]

As much as I like the Redbone U3, I think that it's a little much for such a build as this.

Also, guys, don't underestimate the importance of Hyper-Threading on Intel's dual-core models.



A lot of games seem to have issues with only having two threads even though you technically aren't scaling well in FPS most of the time. Measuring in FPS seemingly masks the issue.
 
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]Agreed. Just popping in an i5 would be very nice. However, we'd have to weigh that against other (component) funding options. *see below* Oh, I like that, but it’s not going to happen. We do occasionally get one shot at a single or new budget (a 4th bonus-build). Personally, I can tell you I’d be torn. For starters, I’d like: another $10-15 for a 1TB HDD, another $15-20 for an HD 7850 2GB, and then a SSD, even if limited to just a small boot or Smart Response drive. However these improvements ignore half of our test suite and value rating, and would not please everyone. A Core-i5 alone, even locked, would do wonders for us in productivity and content creation. And then, that extra $100 opens up a whole slew of $100-130 CPU options to explore in between, from both AMD and Intel. Are you happy just playing on your PC (locked Intel), or do you also enjoy playing with it (tweaking/OC - unlocked/AMD)?Tell me about it! Every single time I'm reminded what just a bit more funding could do. I’d say it would be a great addition to occasionally add a $600-800 bonus build to the mix.[/citation]

I think that being limited to Newegg is a bigger issue than the budget. For example, an i3 or A10-5800K or FX-430 would all have no problem in the $500 budget with an 8GB memory it and otherwise decent hardware(including a Radeon 7850) if you could use other venders since Newegg simply doesn't always have the best pricing. Of course, unlike increasing the budget, SBMs can't use sites other than Newegg, but that doesn't stop it from being an issue :/
 
[citation][nom]hasten[/nom]You realize the title is "gaming computer." Linux +gaming = Fail. Be tough to run those benchmarks without windows as well.[/citation]

Actually, most modern games run just fine on several Linux distros if you know how to run them.
 
[citation][nom]internetlad[/nom]My two cents:Who needs an optical anymore? I game quite a bit and since I started using Steam several years ago, I have no need for disc-based media besides possibly to burn CDs to listen to in the car, and most new models come with a line-in for your phone or mp3 player nowadays.Save an easy 20 bucks (every dollar counts, that could have been the difference between a 320 Blue HDD and a 500/TB Black drive.) and put the kaibosh on the optical. Install windows 7/8 from a USB stick (As simple as uncompressing an ISO onto a USB nowadays) and if you ever DO need to use an optical, keep a single USB optical drive for all the devices in the house, or move the data to a USB.[/citation]

A lot of people, especially low-end users, still use optical disk drives for various reasons. Most low-end users would rather just load up the Windows install disk and throw in some game disks that they have too. On that same note, most users already have optical disk drives that they can put into the build, so still...
 

mousseng

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WINE alone runs a ton of games with no errors (sometimes with slightly lower framerates), and now we've got Steam coming to Linux (which could push a lot of developers that way, too).

But people also need to realize this is not a system building guide - this is a comparison of hardware configurations; this assumes you already have the software.
 

Onus

Titan
Moderator
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]...Are you happy just playing on your PC (locked Intel), or do you also enjoy playing with it (tweaking/OC - unlocked/AMD)?[/citation]
Hey, that's my line (italics added)! Heh, I'd love to see it; an $800 bonus build would indeed be right at that sweet spot, but as you say there's no way you'd please everyone with how you spent another $100-$300.
 

mousseng

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The new Trinity Athlons were also something I have interest in (and I'm really glad they were given serious consideration for this) - but I really haven't heard much about them since the original announcements a few months back. I did find a review from a Polish website, though (see here). They appear to be pretty thorough in their tests and explanations (as much as I can make out with Google translate), and from their results it seems that the 750k is, on average, about on par with the G860 when it's overclocked to 4.5 GHz (with regards to gaming performance).

So assuming those results are accurate, the G860 remains the best choice at that price. I would still love to see what Tom's makes of the 750k, though.
 


Intel's dual-core CPUs have poor real-world gaming performance. Getting high FPS doesn't matter when that FPS is masking far higher frame latency.



http://techreport.com/review/23750/amd-fx-8350-processor-reviewed/14
 

TeraMedia

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What surprises me the most about this build is how little reason there is to complain about it. In some past builds, there was a CPU that bottlenecked the GPU, or a GPU that could barely play a game. And the HDD/Case/PSU/ODD were, are, and always will be barest minimum, but these really don't seem all that bad given the total system capabilities. The closest pre-built I saw that had anything near this system's GPU was an iBuyPower NE785FX at $699 with a 2 GB 7850 and an AMD FX-6100 CPU. That price includes the O/S, so subtract ~$100 and this SBM system is still doing very well.
 

mohit9206

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[citation][nom]blazorthon[/nom]Intel's dual-core CPUs have poor real-world gaming performance. Getting high FPS doesn't matter when that FPS is masking far higher frame latency.http://techreport.com/review/23750 [...] eviewed/14[/citation]
the issue of higher frame latency is offset by the really cheap prices of the pentiums over the i3 models. i would any day take a $70 pentium over a $130 i3-3225 and rather put the extra money in a better gpu.
so instead of i3+7770 i could then afford pentium+7850 which is superior
 

pauldh

Illustrious



I don’t want to get too involved here on this topic, but you posted it twice now so it warrants a comment. Further investigation would be needed before drawing too many conclusions against Pentiums from just that data alone. Similar to you I thrive on data, that’s an understatement. Shoot, I have many hundreds or likely a thousand+ lab hours into gaming evaluations pertaining to CPU/GPU balance. But that chart/review brings up more questions than it answers IMO, especially regarding i3 vs. Pentium. As you know the Pentium totally bombed in two games, and beat out everything AMD has to offer in the two others. I believe that final chart you posted is likely quite skewed from those two bombed games, right? All this really tells us for sure is the Pentium had some major problem in two games, paired with a 7950 and Cat 12.3 drivers, yet i3 did not. Honestly, until confirmed to be consistent (across test platforms, drivers & GPU colors), that’s all it tells us. It’s a single snapshot of how things once were at a point in time, in two games, with fairly immature drivers (for the 7xxx series). I am not discrediting it, nor saying to ignore it, not at all. But there’s a flaw to drawing conclusions from one snapshot alone without further investigation. I know first hand drivers could have a huge impact on that picture, as could just the swap to a GeForce, or a firmware/BIOS update.

Pertaining to this rig, I play demanding levels of BF3’s single player campaign on every one of these budget gaming rigs, rather than going on our sequence’s ave/min fps alone. I’d take this Pentium G850 + HD 7850 any day for that purpose over Core i5 + 7770 or 6850, which lack the GPU muscle for ultra details. Then again, our drivers are also updated to the newest each time, so an SBM alone can’t completely rule out viability of any one configuration. Would I rather have an i3 or i5 also? Most certainly. I'm not recommending it for competative online gamers, but this Pentium delivered a very enjoyable BF3 expereince with little lack of fluidity. This was our best $500-650 SBM gamer yet in that regard.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]Onus[/nom]Well Paul, add me to the list of members who rather think you deserve to let your head swell a little over this one. It was very nicely done.[/citation]
HaHa thanks, but my part was kinda easy really. Kudos to AMD and Intel for delivering this kind performance and value to gamers.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]JonnyDough[/nom]Horrible compared to other companies that now offer 5 and 7 year warranties. Companies that will likely still be around then. CoolerMaster and EVGA to name two.[/citation]
Fair enough, but entry level parts usually don't carry those warranties. Antec offers 2,3,5 and 7 year warranties depending on the model/line, so it's worth mentioning the specifics for each model we use. eVGA is $100+, so not really relevent, and CoolerMaster's low end actually just comes with a 1 year warranty, although I see they do offer 5 year on some inexpensive parts such as the GX450.
 
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