System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim And StarCraft II

The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim

Although we've seen that it's clearly CPU-limited, our current gaming system breezes through Skyrim’s High detail preset settings, never dropping below 47 FPS in its stock form.

At Ultra details, with 8x MSAA applied, the overclocked $500 PC offers about the same experience at 1920x1080 as the stock $650 PC did, trailing by just 1 FPS in both average and minimum frame rates.

However, our Skyrim testing didn’t end with just one quick run through the town of Riverwood. Even under pursuit by guards in the most demanding locations of Markarth, our frame rates never dipped below 30. I don’t doubt that some user-created Skyrim mod can overburden the processing limits of our Celeron chip. But I was truly impressed by this cheap CPU's ability to handle anything Skyrim could dish out.

StarCraft II

This 60-second Fraps run starts out very demanding, but then it eases up as enemies are eliminated from the map. We’ll stay consistent by running the same four resolutions, though the lower ones don't do StarCraft II any justice.

As we noticed last quarter, there's a drop in performance as the aspect ratio gets wider, indicating a CPU limitation.

Fixed CPU multiplier ratios stymie our overclocking efforts, and we're unable to address the processor bottlenecks that appear through our highest test settings.

Minimum frame rates as low as 46 assure us of a solid StarCraft II experience on our stock $500 PC. But, for more epic battles, I’d rather be using a machine armed with a more powerful processor.

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    Top Comments
  • PCgamer81
    Wow.

    To think, for $500, one can experience most of what PC gaming has to offer.

    In this day and age, an Xbox 360/PS3 is absolutely inexcusable.
    19
  • cloakster
    It is just incredible how well the G530 performs in gaming.
    10
  • slomo4sho
    Would have liked to see Diablo 3 and SC 2 benchmarks for this build.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • cloakster
    It is just incredible how well the G530 performs in gaming.
    10
  • slomo4sho
    Would have liked to see Diablo 3 and SC 2 benchmarks for this build.
    10
  • mayankleoboy1
    why are you not increasing the voltages on the GPU to get more clocks ?
    any enthusiast with limited budget would want to maximize his core clocks with higher voltages.. the card can keep cool by increasing the fan speed.
    More noise for a gaming session is acceptable.
    -6
  • mayankleoboy1
    Quote:
    Dumping the bulk of our funding into graphics is sure to spell disaster throughout the media encoding and productivity benchmarks. But it's time to face the music.


    pun intended ? ;)
    4
  • s3anister
    Celeron G530 is what I'm rocking in my gaming rig. It is definitely a capable processor, surprising given the legacy behind anything labeled Celeron.
    6
  • s3anister
    Slomo4shOWould have liked to see Diablo 3 and SC 2 benchmarks for this build.

    I can't give you exact fps rates, but my machine is very similar to this one (only difference is the GPU: 6950+Z68) and I get similar frame rates in all the tested games. So I'll infer to you what this rig would probably get close to.

    Diablo 3 maxes out at 60fps with occasional dips down to ~30fps when getting mobbed on hell. As for SC2, frame rates for me tended to be around 35fps on average with everything maxed out at 1920x1080 for both games.
    0
  • pauldh
    s3anisterCeleron G530 is what I'm rocking in my gaming rig. It is definitely a capable processor, surprising given the legacy behind anything labeled Celeron.

    Ah, but think way back.... slot 1, 440BX, and the Celeron 300A? I had a 266@412MHz, a 300A@464MHz, a 300A@450MHz, and a 333(that topped out down at an 83 MHz FSB).

    While not the first chips I had overclocked, those slot 1 Celeron's gave me the incurable OC bug! *dreams of G530K*
    1
  • jestersage
    Amazing! I never thought an SBM machine would ever come this close to my own rig. And confirm for me that my drooling over $200+ graphics cards is not an impractical fantasy for my current rig. I've been dreaming of retiring my old GT240 for a newer card and had the HD7850 (or comparable Nvidia counterpart when it comes out) in mind, or even an HD7770. I now feel justified and my wife will go nuts over the pc part purchase, again.

    I did notice one thing when I compared this build with my system - mine idles at 48-52 watts, too, and I use a 500W S12II. I think right-sizing the PSU will add to the efficiency. A 350w PSU is my bet for bringing the idle power draw closer to the 20% mark of the PSU rating where efficiency starts to pick up (as per 80plus requirements). I say 350w because whoever gets this will likely want to upgrade the CPU to something beefier sooner or later. Nah, sooner!

    Thanks, Paul! for tackling love and system-building with reckless abandon.
    0
  • bustapr
    i got a question. if I were to use a phenom 2x4 965 BE(3.4ghz) for a gaming rig on a similar budget to this, would it bottleneck me in gaming and other applications?
    0
  • pauldh
    mayankleoboy1why are you not increasing the voltages on the GPU to get more clocks ?any enthusiast with limited budget would want to maximize his core clocks with higher voltages.. the card can keep cool by increasing the fan speed.More noise for a gaming session is acceptable.

    As mentioned, it was maiinly a matter of consistency with the past few builds. Dealing with fixed CPU clocks and memory frequency, I just haven't been too aggresive with previous efforts with Radeons, and thus didn't want to boost voltage here with the GTX. Trying to play it fair, that's all. Maybe once we revisit overclockable platforms, and are already dealing with increaded noise, I'll get itchy to max-out the GPU.

    Thanks for the feedback though. I'm actually surprised given the balance of the system, that people would desire to see aggressive GPU overclocking.
    0
  • hardcore_gamer
    If the rumored specs of xbox 720 and PS4 are correct, a $500 gaming PC like this will beat both consoles in graphics.

    PC gaming FTW!!
    0
  • amdfangirl
    bustapri got a question. if I were to use a phenom 2x4 965 BE(3.4ghz) for a gaming rig on a similar budget to this, would it bottleneck me in gaming and other applications?


    If you read the gaming CPUs hieracy chart, PhIIX4 965 roughly equals Core i3 2100t (power saving) http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-overclock,3106-5.html and is better than a Celeron. Simply put, Core i3 2100 (not power saving) is better. PhII 965 can only match it with a ~almost 4GHz OC.

    It's nice to know that my Ph II X3 isn't going to need to b replaced anytime soon :). Just a new graphics card.
    1
  • bartholomew
    Impressive budget rig!
    5
  • Darkerson
    Not bad at all, considering the compromises.
    6
  • PCgamer81
    Wow.

    To think, for $500, one can experience most of what PC gaming has to offer.

    In this day and age, an Xbox 360/PS3 is absolutely inexcusable.
    19
  • assafbt
    Ok, my apologies for saying this, but this build had no point. The 500$ and 1000$ price limits in June's builds were unreasonable, as for so little more you could have delivered much more. The limits need reason. The highest end build, may have been reasonable at the 1750$-ish where you not to choose the GTX680. Once you have chosen it, the limit should have gone up by a couple of hundreds.
    So we're left with 3 systems. One just short of high-end, one just short of enthusiast, and one just short of budget gamer.

    Once you've seen the market, you should have put more reason into the price limits.
    -6
  • ojas
    Somehow, i think a Pentium G850 ($88) + a EVGA/MSI GTX 560 ($190) would be a better choice. You'd cross the budget by about $8, but you could have seen much better performance overall, especially after an OC, seeing that those cards can hit 900 MHz+ easy enough.
    1
  • truegenius
    :o
    pentium g530 can't handle a 560Ti, its too weak.
    it is almost equal to or less than phenom 2 x3
    -4
  • Crashman
    assafbtOk, my apologies for saying this, but this build had no point. The 500$ and 1000$ price limits in June's builds were unreasonable, as for so little more you could have delivered much more. The limits need reason. The highest end build, may have been reasonable at the 1750$-ish where you not to choose the GTX680. Once you have chosen it, the limit should have gone up by a couple of hundreds.So we're left with 3 systems. One just short of high-end, one just short of enthusiast, and one just short of budget gamer.Once you've seen the market, you should have put more reason into the price limits.
    The sub-$2000 build was high-end and will remain high-end until you can prove otherwise. And don't even bother picking on its case, because we could go back and forth on that one forever.
    3
  • mayankleoboy1
    as a budget rig, this build is admirable.
    8