Page 1:Serious Gaming, On The Cheap
Page 2:CPU And Cooler
Page 3:Motherboard And Memory
Page 4:Graphics Card And Hard Drive
Page 5:Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive
Page 6:Assembling Our Budget-Oriented Box
Page 7:Limited To Graphics Overclocking
Page 8:Test System Configuration And Benchmarks
Page 9:Benchmark Results: Synthetics
Page 10:Benchmark Results: Battlefield 3 And DiRT 3
Page 11:Benchmark Results: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim And StarCraft II
Page 12:Benchmark Results: Audio And Video
Page 13:Benchmark Results: Productivity
Page 14:Power Consumption And Temperatures
Page 15:Performance Summary And Efficiency
Page 16:Did We Spend Our Money Wisely?
Limited To Graphics Overclocking
Our hands are largely tied when it comes to overclocking, yet again. Base clock settings are out, as is the option to alter our processor's multiplier ratio. Intel even keeps us limited to DDR3-1333 data rates, compelling us to push lower latencies in the search for better performance.
Unfortunately, we lose user-selectable DIMM voltage with Gigabyte's B75M-D3V, and the only way to exceed 1.5 V is through an XMP memory profile. Reducing timings one at a time, we found stability at 8-9-8-22 1T through three passes of Memtest86+ and an hour of Prime95’s blend test. According to SiSoftware's Sandra diagnostic, however, this actually penalized us with a loss of bandwidth. Instead of messing with sub-timings to eke out insignificant gains, we settled for stock 9-9-9-24 latencies and shifted focus to graphics tuning.
Comparing one GeForce card to another gave us the perfect opportunity to embark on more aggressive GPU overclocking techniques than what we've used in the past. After dialing in the highest stable overclock at a stock 0.975 V, we made incremental bumps in voltage using MSI's Afterburner utility, increasing core clock rate and testing stability along the way.
After every 0.025 V bump, the GPU rewarded us with an extra 25 MHz or so, eventually settling on a 960 MHz limit at 1.050 V. MSI’s cooling solution remained super effective; lengthy stability testing using automatic fan settings saw our GPU top out at 70 degrees, triggering a mere 53% fan duty cycle. The way we were scaling, it might have been possible to hit 980-990 MHz at the maximum 1.087 V setting. However, even with cooling to spare, I didn’t want to run SBM benchmarks at voltages that exceeded my own comfort zone for day-to-day use.
We didn't bother trying to push the GDDR5 memory beyond its stable 1125 MHz (4500 MT/s) setting, and we ended up testing at a final combination of 950 and 1102.5 MHz for the core and memory, respectively.
- Serious Gaming, On The Cheap
- CPU And Cooler
- Motherboard And Memory
- Graphics Card And Hard Drive
- Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive
- Assembling Our Budget-Oriented Box
- Limited To Graphics Overclocking
- Test System Configuration And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Synthetics
- Benchmark Results: Battlefield 3 And DiRT 3
- Benchmark Results: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim And StarCraft II
- Benchmark Results: Audio And Video
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Power Consumption And Temperatures
- Performance Summary And Efficiency
- Did We Spend Our Money Wisely?