System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

In an effort to replicate the way you'd use this PC, we leave power-saving features enabled on both rigs. Also, we don't override the automatic fan controls on either of the stock configurations. As a result, we basically sacrifice thermal performance and impose higher system temperatures in order to enjoy less fan noise.

Both machines employ an Antec VP-450 power supply, which offers respectable efficiency, even if it doesn't boast an 80 PLUS certification.

There's clearly a problem with this quarter's active idle power use on the desktop, since we'd expect it to land right around 50 W. We're thinking that something was messing with the graphics card's power management. And, despite our best efforts, we were unable to solve this mystery.

Monitoring utilities confirmed for us that, at its stock and overclocked settings, the card was properly idling down to its 2D frequencies and voltage levels. Our power meter begs to differ, though. Confirming our suspicion of PowerColor's card is the fact that, when the system enters standby, consumption drops under 42 W instead of giving us the 10-12 W reduction expected from ZeroCore kicking in. For one reason or another, our graphics card simply chews up an extra 20 W on the Windows desktop.

Though the performance of Intel's bundled heat sinks and fans isn't particularly impressive, they serve up quiet operation and adequate cooling, particularly since we're unable to overclock.

At a 20-25% fan duty cycle, our Radeon HD 7850 runs hotter than last quarter's GeForce GTX 560. It's entirely possible that the higher temps are directly attributable to the power consumption issues mentioned above. But GPU load temperatures weren't a big problem. Both overvolted and overclocked cards had cooling in reserve. The Radeon barely hit a 50% duty cycle, while the GeForce peaked at 53%.

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    Top Comments
  • willyroc
    Not to mention that the 500GB version of the HDD is only $3 more.
    26
  • Crashman
    killerchickens$501 Plus $100 for a copy of windows 7.
    Run Linux, this is a hardware shootout.
    22
  • colinstu
    EzioAsI think they'd be better off with a B75 motherboard, 4GB RAM and an i3-3220.


    Exactly. Couldn't've said it better.
    21
  • Other Comments
  • killerchickens
    $501 Plus $100 for a copy of windows 7.
    -20
  • Crashman
    killerchickens$501 Plus $100 for a copy of windows 7.
    Run Linux, this is a hardware shootout.
    22
  • willyroc
    I personally feel that they could have gone with H61 and gotten a 2GB 7850 instead.
    21
  • killerchickens
    CrashmanRun Linux, this is a hardware shootout.


    Linux for a gaming desktop I dont think so.
    -13
  • willyroc
    Not to mention that the 500GB version of the HDD is only $3 more.
    26
  • jerm1027
    Quote:
    Our best alternative remained the quad-core Phenom II X4 995 Black Edition for $95. But we chose not to revisit this old favorite, figuring that adding a Radeon HD 7850 would have taxed our budget.

    What about the Phenom II 965? It's only $75 at TigerDirect.
    9
  • killerchickens
    Why is Windows 8 Professional being used?
    -17
  • EzioAs
    Anonymous said:
    I personally feel that they could have gone with H61 and gotten a 2GB 7850 instead.


    I think they'd be better off with a B75 motherboard, 4GB RAM and an i3-3220.
    21
  • mayankleoboy1
    I am not very comfortable using windows8 in these benches. Reason : Drivers have not yet matured for win8. I would have waited for the next quarter SBM before using win8.
    4
  • killerchickens
    Windows is free and we use Linux in are gaming Machines what are we in Soviet Russia .
    -19
  • kj3639
    Well done! I built a $700 rig for a friend a few weeks ago. Parts were mostly identical except for a Corei5 3330, 2 GB 7850 and 120 GB SSD. The 7850 is by far the most bang for the buck and overclocks quite well. I recently bought two for a crossfire setup on my rig for $300 dollars on black friday as well. The 7850 was a solid choice.
    4
  • colinstu
    EzioAsI think they'd be better off with a B75 motherboard, 4GB RAM and an i3-3220.


    Exactly. Couldn't've said it better.
    21
  • aznshinobi
    The FX-6300 doesn't get any love?
    0
  • killerchickens
    So guys you would buy Windows 8 Professional for a $500 gaming computer.
    -15
  • blazorthon
    aznshinobiThe FX-6300 doesn't get any love?


    It's too expensive.

    killerchickensSo guys you would buy Windows 8 Professional for a $500 gaming computer.


    This was a hardware test. You're OS complaints are irrelevant and there's no practical difference between Home and Pro versions when it comes to simple performance tests. such as these.
    16
  • blazorthon
    killerchickensWindows is free and we use Linux in are gaming Machines what are we in Soviet Russia .


    Several Linux distros works pretty well with most modern popular games, just FYI. Also, getting Windows for free legally is easy if you care to do it. Dreamspark has many free versions available to college students and most people know at least one, even if by proxy. Even in the unlikelihood of not knowing any, there's still the eval copies that MS gives away for free on their own website.
    10
  • blazorthon
    mayankleoboy1I am not very comfortable using windows8 in these benches. Reason : Drivers have not yet matured for win8. I would have waited for the next quarter SBM before using win8.


    I disagree. The current drivers for Windows 8 are pretty much on-par with the Windows 7 drivers. Heck, they're better than AMD's pre-Catalyst 12.6 drivers.
    12
  • de5_Roy
    was hoping to see a piledriver based cpu in this quarter's build. but i was much happier to see the 1gb radeon 7850 instead. nice gaming build.
    7
  • blazorthon
    Anonymous said:
    was hoping to see a piledriver based cpu in this quarter's build. but i was much happier to see the 1gb radeon 7850 instead. nice gaming build.


    Meh, I would've preferred seeing at least an A8-5600K with a cheaper motherboard and memory kit or keep the same memory kit and get a cheaper case. It could have fit, IDK why Tom's didn't do it. Maybe there weren't good prices on other components at the time :/
    -4
  • killerchickens
    blazorthonThis was a hardware test. You're OS complaints are irrelevant and there's no practical difference between Home and Pro versions when it comes to simple performance tests. such as these.


    Windows home still costs $100 which is still some how not part of the budget.
    -16