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Performance Summary And Efficiency

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC

Performance Summary

The $400 PC’s 8% boost to gaming performance would likely have been closer to 18% had we utilized the graphics card’s maximum overclock. We're talking about quite a bit of extra speed that could have been gained by pushing the Radeon HD 5670 to its limit. But in the grand scheme of things, this overclocked machine would still fall far short of the stock $550 gaming rig, sporting its Radeon HD 5770.

The puny boxed cooler limited our four-core processor to 3.2 GHz, tempering the overclocked $400 PC’s dominance over the $550 build in our applications suite. The 28% gain in A/V encoding was countered by small gains in single-threaded iTunes. Meanwhile, 36% gains in our productivity apps are pretty impressive, given just the 200 MHz CPU frequency boost.


Leaving the motherboard's CPU running a higher voltage in our stock testing killed the efficiency of the “un-tweaked” $400 PC. If we’re truly going to put weight into an efficiency measurement, though, it’s about time to make a change and enable power savings features on the budget PC, just as we would with a machine sporting Intel Turbo Boost or AMD Turbo CORE technology.

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