System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $1,000 Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon, December 2012: The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!

Day 1: The $500 Gaming PC
Day 2: The $1,000 Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $2,000 Performance PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected


I read through Chris' analysis of AMD's Vishera-based FX-8350 very carefully (AMD FX-8350 Review: Does Piledriver Fix Bulldozer's Flaws?) and was happy to see that the company at least had a viable alternative to Intel's Core i5-3570K on its hands.

Naturally, I wanted to know how an FX-based System Builder Marathon machine would compare to the box I built last quarter, which housed...a Core i5-3570K. So, I bought similar components this time around, except for the platform, and set off to figure out how our new benchmark suite would treat the competing architectures.

We know the FX-8350's performance can be inconsistent compared to the Core i5 due to its modular design. However, we've run enough tests to know that lightly-threaded workloads generally favor Intel, while more demanding applications go AMD's way. Although the Piledriver design does help the FX in games, we're expecting Intel to retain its advantage in that discipline.

$1,000 Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardGigabyte DA-970A-D3, Socket AM3+, AMD 970 Chipset
ProcessorAMD FX-8350 (Piledriver): 4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 4.3 GHz Maximum Turbo Core, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache
Heat Sink
Xigmatek Loki SD963 92 mm CPU Cooler
MemoryMushkin Enhanced Blackline: DDR3-1600, 2 x 4 GB (8 GB) Dual-Channel Desktop Memory Kit
GraphicsGigabyte GeForce GTX 670 GV-N670OC-2GD, 2 GB GDDR5
OCZ Agility 3: 60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s$65
Hard Drive
Hitachi GST Deskstar 7K1000.C: 1 TB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s$90
OpticalLG GH24NS90 OEM: DVD Burner
CaseHEC Blitz
PowerCorsair CX600: 600 W, ATX12V, EPS12V, 80 PLUS-Certified
 Total Cost$1,009

Since we ordered the parts for this build, some prices are up and others are down. Fortunately, the current $1,009 price tag is very close to the $1,000 target. Keep in mind that the previous configuration went $57 over budget, and the graphics card alone is down $50 since last quarter.