I checked my SBG R4000 to R6000 picks last week and compared them to Tom’s Hardware’s often-mentioned Builder’s Marathon that they publish every month. While they actually build and test the systems they recommend, I’m in a bit of a hard place and couldn’t so much as buy any of these components myself, much less touch them. But I digress, because it’s time for me to see who’s better at recommending people what they should buy with their hard-earned cash. This week its my R10,500 build against their $1000 build.

Since Tom’s doesn’t cover every segment like I do (wusses) they have at least dropped this month’s build to nearly match mine. I really would love to say that they stack up nicely, but…they don’t.

Sorry Tom’s. You lost this one (and the one before that). Hit the jump for my analysis.

As you can see, even comparing the motherboard and chip used to my R10,500 build, Tom’s went with the last-generation Core i5-2400 and a P67 chipset motherboard. I’m not convinced their team went all-out this month for the best all-round performance, instead compromising on CPU performance and relying on the graphics card for the grunt work.

Before you cry foul, the Core i5-2400 is actually beefy enough to power that setup but its just too riddled with compromises its difficult to know whether to laugh or cry. The chassis is terrible and the Radeon HD7970 has to be slightly bent to fit in properly. They used a 750GB drive which is actually composed of one 500GB and one 250GB platter and I’ve always preferred single-platter drives for an OS install. Also, 4GB of RAM for a gaming rig? I get twice that for roughly $10 more.





Sadly I can’t actually compare my system with theirs in any performance metric. The GTX570 would, however, allow for 1080p gaming at Very High or Ultra settings and would trail theirs by about 10 to 15fps at the same Ultra settings they employ. Moving through the benchmarks you can see that the Core i5-2400 heavily impacts and limits performance in the move from 1680 x 1050 to full 1080p resolution in all of the games. The ones that demonstrate this best is Skyrim and DiRT3. Strangely the Starcraft runs actually demonstrate that the processor is quite enough, suggesting that they’ve hit a graphics limitation with the HD7970, with the system actually gaining performance moving from 1080p to 30″ native resolution, which is an indication of a graphics limitation.

Lastly, their power draw measurements are quite a shocker, drawing less power at full load than my build probably would. Considering that the HD7970 performs orders of magnitude faster than the ancient HD3870 but uses less power this is no mean feat. If I could add another thousand bucks to the build, I’d rather put the GTX670 in there shove a SSD in there. (Oops! I might have revealed my future R12,000 build by accident)

Tom’s built their rig to perform at native 30″ resolutions and that’s a bit beyond what I would expect most gamers to reach for. Granted, they achieved their goal but not without sacrificing things here and there. I at least accommodated for system upgrades with a better chassis. Neither of our intended use cases figured for Crossfire later on but that’s okay. Unless there’s a much cheaper and better-performing pair of cards up for grabs, a single GPU is still the way to go.

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with the above picture with everything they crammed together. I don’t know what they were smoking for this build (or the last one) so I at least hope they get off it for next month. They are usually much better than this.

Source: Tom’s Hardware

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