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Power, Heat, And Efficiency

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: A $2400 PC That Costs $2700

This quarter's machine enjoys several hardware-oriented advantages over its predecessor, and yet it barely consumes more power. Its 85%-efficient power supply requires 1000 W of input to produce an 850 W output.

With everything loaded simultaneously, the new machine barely stays under the rated capacity of its power supply.

Anyone worried about future upgrades needs to understand that we set up unrealistically-high loads to represent a worst-case scenario, and that Seasonic is famed for producing units with a moderate amount of over-capacity headroom.

The new machine’s stock configuration includes a 94° Celsius target GPU limit, and it sticks there regardless of ambient temperature. While that makes this single reading insignificant, all of the other configurations do allow max fan speed and are therefore variable with ambient conditions.

Notice how far the GPU temperature drops when I crank its fan up as high as it'll go. This would have been key to keeping the GPU at its full rated performance level, and was instrumental in achieving the highest possible performance from my overclock.

My new build only yields 4.6% more performance at its stock settings than its predecessor, while consuming 8.1% more energy. The most damning numbers came from a handful of games that weren't particularly kind to AMD's graphics cards, yet certainly reflected the power-hungry Hawaii GPU. At least its overclocked efficiency is an improvement over what we saw last quarter.

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