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Power Consumption And Temperatures

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

Power-saving features remain enabled on both stock configurations, as well as this quarter's overclocked $800 PC. As I tweaked the FX-6300’s clock rates last quarter, I turned those features off for greater stability and performance consistency.

The $800 rig’s Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 sips less power at idle and under load, but its beefier Radeon R9 280X graphics card pushes consumption higher in gaming environments.

We know there are folks who will worry that Gigabyte recommends a 600 W power supply or more to support its Radeon R9 280X. But keep in mind that (factoring in efficiency) the peak output pulled from our selection under full load remained under 300 W. EVGA's 500 W supply packs plenty of reserve power in its relatively large 40 A, +12 V rail.

Both boxed coolers are adequate for our mild overclocking endeavors, though Intel’s solution is quieter. If you live somewhere warm, consider a more elegant heat sink and fan combination, particularly if you plan to overclock.

Gigabyte’s three-fan cooler peaked at 79% under load, making my $800 PC noisier during gaming marathons. It's also worth mentioning that I occasionally heard mild coil whine while gaming, which I suspect came from the graphics card. It wasn’t frequent or loud, but I consider that squealing sound to be very distracting.

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