Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Value Conclusion

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: System Value Compared

In the performance PC market, differences in price are usually larger than differences in performance. Exceptions to that observation usually occur outside the performance market with “low-energy” parts that cost more while providing less performance, and low-cost parts that perform so poorly they can’t be held to performance-market standards. The value sweet spot for our builds has often been around $700, so it’s going to be interesting to see how effective our budget reductions have been at knocking the cheapest PC off its bang-for-the-buck pedestal.

The chart below is based on a $500 target price for the cheapest PC even though its actual price was $545, because the other budgets are multiples of $500.

The cheapest PC wins again, but by far smaller margins than in our previous competition, with an overclocked value of 106%. While we expected the low price of the $550 machine’s AMD Athlon II processor to offer excellent value in our encoding and productivity suites, a gaming value lead for the $2,000 machine’s pair of GeForce GTX 470 graphics took us by surprise. The incredible performance of this SLI configuration surmounted even its own high price.

While the chart above might provide numeric value analysis, empirical value will be different for every buyer. Only the $2,000 PC’s Core i7 processor, for example, was capable of rendering 3ds Max animations at less then 30 seconds per frame. Similarly, nothing less than the $1,000 system’s Radeon HD 5830 CrossFire configuration could be consistently relied upon to play high-quality games smoothly at 1080p. Individual requirements aside, the numerical winner is still Paul Henningsen’s overclocked $550 PC.

React To This Article