System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC

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SpadeM

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Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.
+1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
 

AMW1011

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I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
 

micr0be

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very nice build, interesting to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the budget. i was expecting worse results.
 

Gamer-girl

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It went $1 over-budget if we substituted in a GeForce 9800 GT.
I doubt someone spending $400 can't afford to add an extra dollar. although i realize that the point in these articles is to stay under the budget, it would have been interesting to see the price/perforamce difference.
 

HibyPrime

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I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?

I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.
 

cmcghee358

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Really good job. I also like the fact you pointed out that it doesn't include combo discounts, shell shockers or MIR.

That tells me that it could of been an even better system for the same price. I understand that you couldn't, but it's a real eye opener for us folks in the System forum.

I consider this to be a perfect benchmark system for the low budget build requests there.
 

Gulli

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There really are cheaper cases and motherboards out there that would work just fine with this setup. The extra money could go to where it's really need: the graphics.
 
[citation][nom]Lunarian[/nom]I am building a computer with this motherboard and processor also, well the X3 445 anyway. I want to install windows XP on to the operating system, but all my recent CD's were upgrades only. Can I start off with the Win95 CD and install that to the HDD, then upgrade to Win98 followed by Win XP?If anyone can answer this, thanks a lot.[/citation]
I installed an upgrade disk XP once and I think its asks you to insert the disk of the OS you want to upgrade. XP then checks the disk I guess to see if its an allowed upgrade.

This was a great review. I would have when for a $450 range build with a 5770 and an X3 and got the mobo in the review. I would have gotten the $20 Gigabyte gz-ph1a3 and Antec 430W for $40. May have exceeded the price but would have been a great system.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233061
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371023
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]SpadeM[/nom]+1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.[/citation]
Thanks, yes felt it was worth mentioning this one wasn’t as tuned as other recent SBM budget builds. The 2140 MHz CPU-NB Frequency for this $400 OC is quite low versus 2540 MHz for the June $550 PC, and 2620 MHz for the March $750 build. I aim for 2400-2600 MHz CPU-NB, although realize many overclockers utilizing better cooling are willing to push this far higher.

This lil’ box had a few strikes against it that (I felt) didn’t warrant the additional tuning time. The mobo’s design & tame passive cooling, the lack of CPU-NB Voltage control in BIOS, and the fact the boxed cooler’s abilities were already being taxed without increasing the memory controller and L3 cache frequency.
 

maydaynomore

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Blah.... If all you have is $400 then you should consider buying a gaming console. Flame all you want, but the reason for owning a gaming pc is for eye-candy I can't get with a console. This build will be similar to a console (eye-candy wise).
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]AMW1011[/nom]I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.[/citation]

Agreed, every little bit helps. $411 alone added an HD 4850, so $450 would have been good for 1GB HD 5750 or maybe even a 5770. $500 then adds an aftermarket cooler, higher quality PSU, and doubles the storage capacity.
 

pauldh

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[citation][nom]HibyPrime[/nom]I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.[/citation]
The $550 overclocked June PC had a 350 MHz advantage plus further performance tuning, and it still fell shy of the $400 build in threaded-apps performance. Gaming, the system needs more GPU, so additional CPU frequency would not have a meaningful impact.

FYI, we get curious too, just need to get the work done first. ;) I pushed 3.5 GHz at 3-cores, but wouldn't stability test because of insufficeint cooling. Didn't take the time to push the ref. clock any higher than 235 MHz. 3.45 GHz required a voltage bump from 3.4 GHz for stability, and temps were a bit high even before CPU-NB frequency overclocking. SO, had unlocking failed, benchmarks would likely have been run with 3-cores @ 3.4 GHz.
 

lenoxlv

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Umm... why there is no L3 cache? When I unlocked my x3 445 into a Phenom X4, I got 6mb of L3 cache. Why didn`t this cpu get it? Was it unstable? If it had those 6mb of L3 cache, there would be a bigger difference in games and apps.
 
The more I think about what this build shows can be done on a budget, the better I like it. If I needed a cheap backup PC, I'd build one almost identical. The only part I'd definitely change is the PSU (e.g. Earthwatts 380 for $40 shipped), but the rest is fine.
 

mattmock

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[citation][nom]maydaynomore[/nom]Blah.... If all you have is $400 then you should consider buying a gaming console. Flame all you want, but the reason for owning a gaming pc is for eye-candy I can't get with a console. This build will be similar to a console (eye-candy wise).[/citation]
I think you are over estimating the consoles power, almost all AAA releases are rendered at 720p on PS3/X360. GTA IV (on ps3) and Halo3 were rendered at wide screen 640p. Only a few games use real 2x AA. Most use no AA or a computationally cheap AA filter that blurs both edges and textures. There is often little or no AF and textures and poly counts are usually equivalent to the low or medium settings of the PC version. Target FPS is usually 30 (sometimes 60)on consoles. This system still offers a big visual upgrade over PS3/X360.
That said I agree that the $400 limit does seem to force performance down significantly. $50 more on the video card would offer a big jump in performance.
 
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