System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]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.[/citation]

Of the four games tested by Tech Report, only in one was the Pentium G2120 besting AMD (even then, not by too much) and in one other, it was competitive. The other two showed it at a huge disadvantage. That story is different when measured in FPS where the Pentium did well or at least decently across the board. The FPS masked the Pentium G2120's issues in frame latency. Even where the Pentium was winning in Skyrim, the average FPS was nearly double the real average frame rate (78FPS versus a little over 40FPS).

One might argue that more games should be tested in a more up to date article, but at the least, it proved that the testing methods of measuring in FPS are flawed nonetheless and that is something that there are mountains of data for across many other sites as well.

I agree in that I'd take this over a system with a Radeon 7770 even with the Pentium G850 any day for most games because the 7850 is worth it, but I'd easily go for say a Sandy i3 (which have been available around $100-$105 for a few months now, such as the i3-2100 and occasionally also the i3-2120) with a cheaper case and motherboard, maybe also memory. It could have been worked out.

Like I said in one of my previous posts, I think that being limited to Newegg is worse than the very limited budget. We can easily throw together even an i3+Radeon 7850 or AMD quad/six core+Radeon 7850 build for $450 if I could choose parts from other retail sites and we've been able to do it since the last SBM.
 
[citation][nom]JonnyDough[/nom]The ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP is almost $90 on NewEgg. As a side note, NewEgg's customer service has been going down the tubes lately...[/citation]

Really? I hadn't noticed Newegg winding down on that, granted I haven't done much with them lately either.
 
i found it funny how people compare (and try to [/i]out-build[/i]) present hardware prices to the past hardware prices when this article was being written as prices change on daily basis (even says so in articles like this). :D
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Former Staff
[citation][nom]De5_roy[/nom]i found it funny how people compare (and try to [/i]out-build[/i]) present hardware prices to the past hardware prices when this article was being written as prices change on daily basis (even says so in articles like this).[/citation]You laugh at hardware prices? I remember in 1989 someone offered a 386 with 16-bit graphics and something like 2MB RAM 120 MB HDD for $2000. It's big advancement was a CD-ROM.

You can't buy that PC today, so how would you compare current prices of new components? Is it not better to ask "this is what we could get in 1989 for $2000, what can we get now for $2000?". What do you have against history?
 

not exactly. i just found it amusing how many commenters didn't consider the prices at the time the sbm articles were written. instead they'd compare the article's component prices(afaik days/weeks before the article was published) to publication-time(present) prices... going as far as so choose inferior/unreasonable components e.g. trade more cpu power for gpu power in a gaming pc. seems to happen with every sbm article.

i have nothing against history. it is indeed quite astonishing how much more performance one can get for money today.
sorry if i wasn't clear in my previous post. :)
 

ivyanev

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Nice build . Too bad amd wasn't available , but thats life. If there was a way to drop the graphics just a little bit and get the power consumption back?
 

JonnyDough

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[citation][nom]JonnyDough[/nom]The ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP is almost $90 on NewEgg. As a side note, NewEgg's customer service has been going down the tubes lately...[/citation]

This. And even Corsair is better. Antec has nothing I'm interested in to be honest.
 

JonnyDough

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[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]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.[/citation]

I meant to quote this ^^
 
[citation][nom]JonnyDough[/nom]This. And even Corsair is better. Antec has nothing I'm interested in to be honest.[/citation]

Antec gets their PSUs manufactured by mostly the same companies as Corsair, lol. The high end models are oftentimes almost identical internally to some from Corsair that are all manufactured by Seasonic.
 

lunyone

Splendid
Moderator
So here is a thought for a possible SBM for next time.
* Build the 3 SBM's ($500, $1k, & $1.5/$2k).
* Use the same platform (AMD or Intel).
* Test the $500 SBM with it's original budget friendly CPU and then test it with the $1k & then with the $2k CPU (keep all other parts that were originally used for the $500 build intact).
* Then test the $1k build with original CPU and then with the $500 & $2k CPU's (keep all other parts that were originally used for the $1k build intact).
* Then test the $2k build with the original CPU and then with $500 & $1k CPU's (keep all other parts that were originally used for the $1k build intact).

With this kind of data you could definitely could see the difference the "more expensive" CPU or "less expensive" CPU would improve/degrade gaming performance.

You could even stick with the same motherboard to minimize variables, if you wanted to.

It would require 3x the testing, but then you would quell the notion from posters that "if you added X CPU to the build" statements.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]blazorthon[/nom]It's too expensive.This was a hardware test. You're OS complaints are irrelevant[/citation]

Good thing it's not an English test!
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]EzioAs[/nom]I agree with you there.Which actually reminds me have Tom's drop Metro 2033 from the test? And how about Dirt 3 or The Witcher 2 as well? I sincerely hope you (Tom's staffs) have any future plans on testing Assassin's Creed 3 since a lot of users are reporting about not getting great framerates even with a high end card. I've started to ponder whether is it really am extremely demanding game?[/citation]
Getting back to earlier comments regarding games, many of you have noticed the drop to three. We officially ditched Metro 2033 from the SBM a while ago, although the game’s sheer demands will surface it from time to time. We swapped DiRT3 to F1 2012, or you may occasionally see DiRT Showdown in other stories, all based on the same game engine.
Ideally we'd like to add a 4th title to the System Builder Marathons, but just were not able to pin one down in time for these stories. Dialing in the new Win 8 test suite took priority. I'm hoping to generate some data on a 4th before we box these rigs up, and you'd see that data comparison next quarter.
We’d have to move on this quickly, and are open to suggestions: Assassin’s Creed III, Guild Wars II, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, any others?
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]mikenygmail[/nom]Those mentioning Windows 8 Pro are absolutely right.The overwhelming majority of us are not going to use an alternative to Windows.[/citation]
Repeating what blazorthon said, Tom’s is concerned with the hardware here, and find readers generally understand and can cover their own software needs. Just add $100 if need be, plus add peripherals or other software if that's what you need. Many have already made and don’t need to keep making that investment with each upgrade. For my own personal builds, I accumulated numerous retail Windows XP Pros, and grabbed a retail Win 8 Pro upgrade for $40 on launch day, (easily done digitally also for $40). Other machines are now running from a family pack of Windows 7 home upgrade (about $100 provided me 3 licenses). And again, already stated, those lucky enough to qualify for student pricing could do even better on full versions, or, just use Linux if you must/desire.

(edit) Do you qualify for a $40 upgrade? http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/buy?ocid=GA8_O_WOL_Hero_Home_FPP_Null
 

bustapr

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320gb storage wont last snot on a gaming rig. I wouldve shaved off on the case budget and invested on a bigger HDD of at least 500gb(although lately this isnt enough either sometimes). the case couldve definitely been cheaper based on the other components you chose, which look like this build would be best running at stock settings and not OC.
 

Fulgurant

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Nice article, as usual. :)

[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]Repeating what blazorthon said, Tom’s is concerned with the hardware here, and find readers generally understand and can cover their own software needs. Just add $100 if need be, plus add peripherals or other software if that's what you need. Many have already made and don’t need to keep making that investment with each upgrade. [/citation]

Yes, the windows talk is silly.

Personally, I always buy an OEM copy of Windows, because I only build a rig every 3-4 years, but my OS requirements are irrelevant to your SBM methodology. We could just as easily argue that every SBM should include a keyboard, a mouse, a monitor, a surge protector, a router -- because someone out there needs one or all of those things.

As long as the guidelines for your builds are consistent and clearly labeled, it's a simple matter for each reader to adjust his expectations accordingly. The SBM is just a starting point. You can obviously follow the SBM by rote if you really want to, but if you have the time and the inclination, you're better off doing your own research, using the SBM as a frame of reference rather than a hard-and-fast prescription.

For my part, I recently built a system that's similar (in very broad strokes) to this quarter's $500 SBM, but I had a little extra flexibility because I didn't need a case, and I already had plenty of HDD space. All told, I spent $709 dollars in late October for the following:

Intel Core i3 3220 - $100 (in-store pickup deal at Microcenter)
ASUS P8B75-M (B75 chipset) - $70
HIS Radeon HD 7850 (1 GB version) - $165
2*4GB Kingston HyperX XMP DDR3 1600 (cas 9) - $30 with discount promo code
Seasonic M12II 520 Bronze power supply - $69
Intel 330 SSD 240GB - $180
Windows 7 x64 Home Premium - $80 with discount promo code
Random cheapo DVD drive - $15

I splurged a bit on the power supply and the SSD, and obviously I bought a different processor. You can quibble over the amount of similarity between my build and Mr. Henningsen's -- but the point is that I started with his August SBM. Take out the Windows license and the SSD (replacing it with a cheap HDD of your choice), and you're very nearly within his $500 budget. (Adding a case would be problematic.)

A little comparison shopping works wonders. The SBM builders are unrealistically constrained, for obvious (and quite sensible) reasons, but that doesn't mean that you can't take what they give you and create something that works best for you.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]mohit9206[/nom]how about a $300 gaming build ?[/citation]

Good idea, as long as we're not including the cost of Windows that would be easy.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]Repeating what blazorthon said, Tom’s is concerned with the hardware here, and find readers generally understand and can cover their own software needs. Just add $100 if need be, plus add peripherals or other software if that's what you need. Many have already made and don’t need to keep making that investment with each upgrade. For my own personal builds, I accumulated numerous retail Windows XP Pros, and grabbed a retail Win 8 Pro upgrade for $40 on launch day, (easily done digitally also for $40). Other machines are now running from a family pack of Windows 7 home upgrade (about $100 provided me 3 licenses). And again, already stated, those lucky enough to qualify for student pricing could do even better on full versions, or, just use Linux if you must/desire. (edit) Do you qualify for a $40 upgrade? http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US [...] e_FPP_Null[/citation]

Listing deals means nothing, though I appreciate the effort as it may help some people. I bought a couple of Windows 7 home full retail for $50 a while back myself.

However, unless there's a continuous deal for $0.00, the cost of Windows needs to be included. After all, it's not free!

Most people agree with me but are reluctant to chime in... Come on toms, do a little more work to squeeze Windows into the total cost of $500. It's really not that difficult. Not including the cost actually will encourage some people to get it "for free" - any way they can. I'm surprised that no one seems to realize this.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]fulgurant[/nom]Yes, the windows talk is silly..[/citation]

Yes it is, and all of this silliness is the result of not including the cost of Windows.
Not including the cost kind of makes the entire thing seem silly, since Windows is not free.

The article is great otherwise, although an unlocked, overclocked CPU would obviously be a better choice.
 

subcutaneous

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So I built this basic build 10/28/2011...... I used the G850, and a GTX 480 substituted for the HD 7850. It actually exceeded the performance of this build because the GPU ended up overclocking by 30%.

I remember back then everyone was like "You want the I3 for games not the G850 because _____" In reality the money saved going to a better graphics card made the same perfect sense back then that it does now.

Seriously disappointing that they are just now starting to come out with build truly optimized for gamers.
 
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