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CPU And Cooler

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $2,000 Performance PC
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Processor: Intel Core i7-930

We picked the lowest-cost processor for Intel’s high-end platform with overclocking in mind. The Core i7-930 features the same die as the i7-920 used to reach 4.30 GHz in our previous System Builder Marathon.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-930


Though it may not be as powerful or as overclockable as Intel’s six-core Core i7-980X, the higher-performance processor comes at a 350% price premium that would have pushed this month’s total system cost skyward by nearly 50%. Most applications still struggle to use more than two cores, so putting a quad-core model in today’s machine is no great sacrifice.

A higher base speed of 2.80 GHz (compared to the i7-920’s 2.66 GHz) is still no guarantee for better overclocking results, but we’re going to put a full effort into achieving ridiculously high frequencies. The only really good thing we can say about the switch to a newer model is that its higher base speed comes at no additional cost.

CPU Heat Sink: Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B

The dirty little secret of Core i7 overclocking is that a big air cooler can often do the job just as well as a large liquid cooler can. Part of that is due to how Core i7 processors are extremely heat-tolerant. When a big air cooler is mandated, we can’t think of a more highly-recommended part than Prolimatech’s Megahalems Rev.B.

Read Customer Reviews of Prolimatech's Megahalems Heat Sink


The Megahalems Rev.B is likely to provide even lower temperatures than our previous liquid-cooling system, simply because that system was crippled by a restrictive GPU water block. Yet, achieving good temperatures with this heat sink requires us to purchase at least a medium-capacity cooling fan, since no fans are included in the package.

Cooling Fan: Scythe Slip Stream SY1225SL12LM-P

We wanted a pulse-width modulation (PWM) fan for its superior speed control, but were bummed to find that Newegg carried nothing in our preferred 2,000-2,500 RPM range. Fans faster than that are often inefficient at low RPMs, and we wanted a system that would remain quiet, except when placed under extreme loads. After careful consideration, we settled for a Scythe SY1225SL12LM-P.

Read Customer Reviews of Scythe's SY1225SL12LM-P Fan


Model familiarity came from our previous 10-cooler roundup where Scythe’s Mugen 2 Revision B cooler took second place using the same part.

We also wanted to try a 38 mm-thick fan, but Newegg doesn’t sell the Prolimatech 12038 clips required for conversion. Since the sink does include a second set of 25 mm clips, we modified these so that we could retest the system using Delta’s ultra-powerful AFC1212DE-PWM

Anyone considering a similar conversion needs to know that this 3,900 RPM oversized fan is incredibly noisy at full speed and that Gigabyte’s default fan speed control doesn’t make a large enough speed difference to suit most users. Tuning the fan’s ramping speed can be accomplished through Gigabyte EasyTune6 software.

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  • 0 Hide
    banthracis , 15 June 2010 22:10
    Um you would have been better off not getting a blue ray burner and getting a cheap $20 optical instead. Use the $88 savings to upgrade to a G Skill Trident 6 GB kit ($32 more), and then put the rest of the savings + extra budget into a X25-M 80 GB ($225 more), and upgrade to a HAF 922($20 more) Case.

    Would have put final budget ~$1995 and would have been a better overall build.

    Granted, dropped the SSD and cheaper case helps your score when doing a performance per $ comparison, but given that people base actual builds on these articles, you should really make the best overall build the priority as opposed to best performance /$ build.
  • 0 Hide
    Redsnake77 , 15 June 2010 22:29
    Wouldn't the $1000 you saved on the build go into you electricity bill? Thus negating the $ performance advantage?

    I would also say, it looks from the repeated degredation of the overclock on the graphics cards that the PSU has had it's life significantly shortened.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , 16 June 2010 00:07
    cod
  • 4 Hide
    Silmarunya , 16 June 2010 02:05
    Redsnake77Wouldn't the $1000 you saved on the build go into you electricity bill? Thus negating the $ performance advantage?I would also say, it looks from the repeated degredation of the overclock on the graphics cards that the PSU has had it's life significantly shortened.


    Indeed. The PSU won't last as long as it could, the system is extremely noisy as far as I can tell from this component selection and performance isn't that stunning when compared to the last edition.

    Wouldn't dual 5850's or a single 5970 have offered cooler, quieter and less power hungry performance (higher performance too btw)? Of course, that would push budget up by quite a bit, but economies can be made (BluRay burner isn't needed for example) and the lower power consumption will earn it back in the long run.

    @banthracis: faster memory has absolutely zero impact in real world situations and very limited impact in synthetics. I wouldn't spend more on faster RAM. Agreed with the SSD suggestion.

    Simply put, I'm disappointed. In an effort to squeeze every last bit of performance, a lot of equally important factors were neglected. Noise, heat and power consumption are through the roof. There's no SSD.

    In all honesty, why don't you consider a $2000 AMD machine? Equal gaming performance, lower price. In synthetics and productivity a quad core AMD would suffer, but getting a 1055T CPU is cheaper and just as good in productivity benchmarks. Overclocking is excellent too. And don't complain about gaming performance, it's usually the GPU that bottlenecks. There is not a single modern mid-end CPU that cannot get the most out of a game. 1-2 FPS isn't worth talking about.


  • 0 Hide
    ksampanna , 16 June 2010 02:15
    Great Article. The reciever of the previous $3000 build must be feeling pretty looney now.
  • 1 Hide
    ksampanna , 16 June 2010 02:19
    Quote:
    Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7


    That's a significant typo in "Test Settings"
  • 2 Hide
    mi1ez , 16 June 2010 17:43
    Quote:
    We wanted a pulse-width modulation (PWM) fan for its superior speed control, but were bummed to find that Newegg carried nothing in our preferred 2,000-2,500 RPM range. Fans faster than that are often inefficient at low RPMs, and we wanted a system that would remain quiet, except when placed under extreme loads. After careful consideration, we settled for a Scythe SY1225SL12LM-P.

    Surely after consideration you'd use a different retailer?
  • 0 Hide
    williehmmm , 16 June 2010 17:47
    This is a very similar build to what I have.

    i5-750 OC @ 4.0Ghz
    Sli GTX 470 stock
    4GB DDR3 1600
    x2 1TB

    My case is a thermaltake Element T (very similar to above), single front 120mm intake, rear 120mm exhaust and top 220mm exhaust. Having read all the reviews about the heat of the Fermi cards I also planned to fit a 220mm side intake to cool the GPU, in a previous 5970 build I used a 120mm, it seems I'd underestimated the space available and my 220mm fan was too large to fit on the inside of the case (depth was about 25mm, compared to the 10mm depth of the 120mm fan). A wee bit or lateral thinking later and I had installed the fan on the outside of the case.

    What strikes me first in my system is the Sli scaling. At least an 80% increase over a single GTX 470 in every game I've tried.

    Also worth noting and the reason for my system build, Nvidia 3D Vision. My previous Nvidia based system had x2 8800GT in Sli and could run most games at decent detail levels, (not as good as my x3 4850), but when 3D vision was enabled you took a 50% hit, no matter which game you tried. A game that was running smoothly at 50 - 60 fps suddenly became 25 - 30 fps and this choppy performance reduced the 3D effect and reduced the gaming experience.

    With the GTX 470 sli, I still take a performance hit and I was expecting this to be in the same 50% region, but no... I have found that I still retain around 70% of the performance in 3D mode and that was a very pleasant surprise. Obviously the titles running at 120fps still drop to 60fps, as is the limits of the monitor when it is in 3D mode. But when I'm getting 70 - 80 fps in 2D mode, the 3D mode still returns 50 - 60fps. Crysis at a typical 55 fps drops to 40 fps.

    Despite paying 'rip off Britain' prices, I was able to build my PC for around £1,000 ($1,500). I'll give the full price list below.
  • 0 Hide
    williehmmm , 16 June 2010 18:50
    Thermaltake VK90001N2Z Element T Case - £45

    An already owned a 750w PSU - £50

    Asrock P55 Extreme LGA1156 - £95

    i5-750 OEM - £139

    Alpenföhn Brocken CPU Cooler - £38

    OCZ 4GB KIT (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600Mhz - £80

    x2 Gainward GTX470 1280MB GDDR5 - £610

    x2 1TB 3.5" SATA - £110


    Total - £1,167 ($1,750)
  • 1 Hide
    Redsnake77 , 16 June 2010 20:35
    The thing is, I don't feel the 470 privides enough extra FPS over a 5850/5870 to justify the extra power it draws. SLI definately scales better than Xfire, which is something AMD must do something about. I went from a pair of 8800GTX OC2's in SLI on my old C2D to a pair of 5850 Toxics in crossfire with my new i7 rig. I just couldn't stomach such a ridiculous power draw for the Nvidia cards. I could add a third 5850 Toxic and it would probably draw less than a pair of 470s. That would be an intersting test actually Tom's. Power, heat and performance comparing 3 5850s to 2 470s.
  • 1 Hide
    mi1ez , 16 June 2010 21:41
    I agree with redsnake. it's all very well having extra FPS but much of the time extra FPS over playable still only equates to playable!
  • 0 Hide
    memeroot , 16 June 2010 22:56
    drop the BR and go for an i5 720, spend the savings on a 3rd gtx470

    same price and would clean up
  • 0 Hide
    memeroot , 16 June 2010 22:57
    correction - go amd and 3 gtx470's - forgot the lane restriction
  • 0 Hide
    williehmmm , 16 June 2010 23:11
    In terms of the extra cost in terms of power used in Nvidia over ATI at full GPU & CPU load, it costs about the same as it would have a lightbulb switched on whilt you're gaming. So hardly likely to break the bank.

    As for too much performance, just turn up the AA to x16 or x32 if you feel your framerates are going too high.

    If you're going down the 3D stereo route, you really can't have too much performance, my findings showed a 30% performance hit straight away, so I'd reckon an sli 470 is the minimum you'd want to go for.
  • 0 Hide
    memeroot , 16 June 2010 23:29
    I have a 9800 gx2 and it works quite well for 3d gaming - only have to turn the settings down a wee bit on some games.
  • 0 Hide
    williehmmm , 16 June 2010 23:45
    9800 gx2 should give the same performance as my x2 sli 8800gt gave. I found GTA IV unplayable, crysis really struggled, battlefield bad company 2 also really struggled. The only game I was happy with was left 4 dead, every other title had to be compromised to be playable and they all took a 50% hit on frame rates, my £600 GPU upgrade was a lot to justify but everything is smooth at max details and 60 fps in 3D mode with only a 30% hit on frame rates. When the 3d surround vision comes with the new drivers, and 3d bluray films get released, i'll feel a lot better about the relative value of what I've purchased, I hope.
  • -1 Hide
    xsamitt , 17 June 2010 23:17
    Wasn't there 2 pages"s of comments? Folks we are being censored I think.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 18 June 2010 04:01
    Quote:
    Wasn't there 2 pages"s of comments? Folks we are being censored I think.

    There probably are on the US site...
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 28 June 2010 16:48
    reported