The Scrapyard Gaming PC Challenge – Results

8 weeks ago, my friend Nick challenged me to build the fastest gaming PC possible, for £450. A decent gaming rig usually costs over £1000, so this would be a good test of our hardware and overclocking knowledge. Unable to turn down a challenge, I accepted, and we agreed a prize of £50 Steam credit – and the kudos of building the fastest PC.

If you haven’t already read part 1, you can read it here.

Build Specifications

Dave Nick
CPU Intel i7 4970K Intel i5 6500
GPU Asus Strix GTX 980 TI Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB DDR3 2400MHz Kingston Hyper X Predator DDR4 16GB
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3
Disk Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250GB SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB
Power supply Corsair CXM 600W Corsair GS600
Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H60 Cooler master 103
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R Bitfenix Nova

Benchmark Results

Dave Nick
Firestrike 1.1 Overall 15866 11069
Unigine Valley Score 4524 2835
UserBenchmark Multi core 703 561
UserBenchmark SSD Random 4k (MB/s) 66.1 34.6
UserBenchmark RAM Multi core (GB/s) 29.5 31.7
Cinebench CPU 915 Nick “lost” his scores
Cinebench GPU 143.11 N/A

Cinebench rendering

The Graphs

benchmark-firestrike

Firestrike is a GPU-intensive 3D demo by 3D Mark, designed to strain even the most powerful GPUs. Not only did my 980 TI outperform the R9 by around 30%, Nvidia’s PhysX rendered every particle beautifully and gave everyone watching an impressive visual display.

benchmark-unigine

Unigine Valley is another well-known GPU-intensive 3D demo, and no surprises, the 980 TI beat the R9 again, this time 37% faster.

benchmark-core

GPU performance aside, how did the other components compare? Userbenchmark showed that the i7 was 20% faster than the i5. The Skylake i5 really gave my aging i7 a run for it’s money.

benchmark-ssd

The SSD scores were a bit of surprise. The technical specs of the SSDs were very similar, and in standard read/write operations, performed as expected – and were in fact quite closely matched. However, the more expensive Samsung EVO 850 was almost twice as fast at random reads across the drive.

benchmark-ram

Finally, we compared RAM throughput. Each of our CPUs and motherboards were overclocked (Nick’s more-so than my setup), and while we expected the DDR4 RAM to outperform the DDR3 RAM, we hadn’t expected the results to be so close. The DDR4 RAM was 0.9GB/s faster than the DDR3 equivalent.

Costs

Dave Cost
CPU Intel i7 4970K £204
GPU Asus Strix GTX 980 TI £587
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB DDR3 2400MHz £52
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97-D3H £43
Disk Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250GB £60
Power supply Corsair CXM 600W £50
Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H60 £59
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R £52
Total cost £1107

 

Nick Cost
CPU Intel i5 6500K £139
GPU Gigabyte R9 290 Windforce OC £150
RAM Kingston Hyper X Predator DDR4 16GB £66*
Motherboard Gigabyte Z170 Gaming K3 £75
Disk SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB £32
Power supply Corsair GS600 £22
Cooling Cooler master 103 £19
Case Bitfenix Nova £26
Total cost £533

* The supplier mistakenly dispatched 16GB, rather than 8GB, so Nick’s RAM actually cost £33 for 16GB.

Conclusion

£533 vs £1107. No contest. My GTX 980 TI was more expensive than the rest of the components combined! Remove the GPUs from the equation, £383 vs £520 – a 30% difference, and the i5 setup narrowly wins on a performance/£ basis (by about a 5% margin). Nick’s final build doesn’t “look” budget, and these results certainly aren’t budget either. The cheap case, cooler master, and budget PSU were all solid choices, and the benchmarks show the i5 is still a very capable processor. My PC, sans GPU, is a slightly higher-spec budget PC. The large 200R case, modular PSU and over-the-top watercooler were bought specifically with future upgradability in mind (after I’d splurged on the GPU, and blown my chances of winning – so I didn’t feel so bad).

292645_gen_bSo, congratulations Nick, it’s been fun, and your well-deserved £50 Steam voucher is on its way.

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