System Builder Marathon: Price Vs. Perf.


What have we learned from this system builder marathon?

First of all, we’ve seen that a sub-$1,000 system can be assembled with multiple video cards, and run with the big boys – even 1920x1200 gaming is viable on such a system, especially when over clocked. As we’ve seen in the value analysis, the Price/Performance of such a combo is unbeatable.

Our sub-$2,000 system showed that a few hundred dollars more might not get you results you’d see on all application benchmarks, but the real-world benefits were hard to miss: twice the hard drive space in a RAID configuration, twice the RAM to minimize loading times, a water cooling system to supply quiet and effective cooling allowing for higher overclocks if desired, video cards with better dual-slot coolers that vented hot air out of the case, and a quad-core CPU for those rare applications and games that can make use of them. While these factors didn’t show well in the raw performance per dollar analysis, the user experience is definitely affected positively by these attributes. And at stock clocks, the sub-$2,000 system had the best high-resolution gaming performance per dollar.

Our sub-$4,000 system has demonstrated that meaningful performance benefits can definitely be purchased when price is less of a factor. Although performance per dollar is dismal, there is a definite and indisputable advantage to owning a PC that can perform many tasks in half the time of the sub-$1,000 PC. This system is just as viable as a Ferrari; it’s not the most performance you can get for your dollar, but that doesn’t make it undesirable.

At the end of the day, only you know what you want, what you need, and how much you have to spend. We hope we’ve given you a better idea of what your hard earned dollars can get you.

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  • Solitaire
    Mmm, so everyone who's going to overclock their PC has a gaming-quality 24" LCD? No? So why didn't you focus on 1680*1050 if you're going to even bother including the sub-$1000 system in the comparison? That's the standard resolution of high-end 17" and most mainstream screens under 22" (even some cheap 22" as well)