System Builder Marathon, June 2010: System Value Compared

Value Conclusion

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.

Create a new thread in the UK Article comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • Redsnake77
    Great article, really interesting figures! SLI'd 470's power consumption is still scary as hell, especially if you get close to 5 or 6 hours a day of gaming.
  • ksampanna
    OK, so the OCd $550 wins. But as any twat with an ounce of common sense will tell you that a single 5770 is just not good enough for all games at full HD.
  • Silmarunya
    ksampannaOK, so the OCd $550 wins. But as any twat with an ounce of common sense will tell you that a single 5770 is just not good enough for all games at full HD.

    True. But then again, any twat will be able to tell you that in this competition, the most expensive and the cheapest PC generally speaking aren't worth buying anyway. The cheap one lacks performance, the high end one doesn't deliver a real world benefit whatsoever.

    Conclusion: as with all things in life, being moderate is usually the best approach...
  • Silmarunya
    doive1231Wow. Tom's works better with compatability mode turned off (IE8).

    And it works even better when not using the slowest, least stable and least safe browser around...
  • Anonymous
    Has anyone else noticed but the COD:MW2 results for the $550 PC are actually the crysis benchmark results thus being a lot lower!
  • Anonymous
    has anyone noticed it says "march 2010" when i believe we're already in june?
  • Anonymous
    500MB should be 500GB

    on the Samsung HD502HJ
  • Anonymous
    A database connection error has occured. Please try again