System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $1,300 Enthusiast PC

Test System And Benchmarks

The gaming aspects of this comparison should be very interesting. While the AMD CPU in the previous machine may bottleneck low-resolution performance, it will be interesting to see how the four Radeon HD 4850 cards in quad-CrossFire will fare against two Radeon HD 5850 cards in the new build.

We have migrated our testing to Windows 7 64-bit. This will undoubtedly skew some results from our previous Windows Vista 64-bit tests, but Thomas Soderstrom's recent test of the new benchmark suite suggests that gaming results should be extremely close and even application benches should be comparable barring a rare exception in TMPGEnc when encoding DivX video.

Migrating to a new OS from time to time makes for a difficult transition, but it's a necessary evil of course.

$1,300 Enthusiast PC Test Settings
 Standard SpeedOverclocked
MotherboardGigabyte P55-UD4P LGA-1156
Chipset: Intel P55-Express
ProcessorIntel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz
Four Cores, 8.0MB L3 Cache
 3.612 GHz at 1.15V,
  172 MHz Base Clock 
Memory2 x A-Data 2.0GB DDR3-1333 Kit
2 x 2.0GB (4.0GB Total), CAS 9-9-9-24
CAS 9-9-9-24
Graphics2 x Radeon HD 5850 (CrossFireX)
1.0GB GDDR5-4000 Per Card
Radeon HD 5870 GPU at 725 MHz
775 MHz GPU
Hard DrivesWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
OpticalSamsung SH-S2232C
22x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD ROM, 48x CD ROM
CaseNZXT M59
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750HX 750W
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified
$1,250 AMD Enthusiast PC (from previous SBM) Test Settings


Standard Speed



AMD 790FX, AM3



AMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3 GHz,
200 MHz Reference Clock

 3.675 GHz at 1.46V
245 MHz Reference Clock


Patriot PVS34G1333LLKN 4GB DDR3-1333
2 x 2GB, CAS 7-7-7-20



4 x Gigabyte GV-R485OC-1GH
Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire
  1GB GDDR3-1998 Per Card, 700 MHz GPU


Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s



Sony Optiarc AD-7240S-0B



NZXT Tempest ATX Tower



PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75CF
750W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified


CPU Cooler

Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283


And now for the benchmarks:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.7, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec)
Test Set 1: Highest Details, No AA, No AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 4x AA, 15x AF
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XPatch 1.02, DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 4x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: (x64)
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min
wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion:
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1
MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus database 2094, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0
Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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  • Anonymous
    Why Crossfire? I know it's cold in UK this time of year, but there are more efficent ways to warm your house.
  • staalkoppie
    Wow!! What a beaut! Still, 4x 4850 just gets my boy racer enthusiasm tingling over the pure silly splurge of tech.
  • hikeran
    wait a moment p55 deosnt cut the performance from graphic card because of it's lack of lane, instead of using 16 it using 8 when you 2 cards
    but my question is how significant this cut is?
    ps:i have seen an article here about it but dont find it.
    +sorry for my english
  • burn-e86
    I seem to remember reading that it only cut's the performance by a max of 10%, though don't quote me on this
  • fatfatr
    I believe it's a 5-6% performance loss, using PCIe 8x lanes with 16x cards.
  • mi1ez
    What a fugly case...