System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $2500 Performance PC

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

My new build might cost 2.5 times as much as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it needs to pull twice the wattage from the wall. Since it doesn't even double the former machine's performance, I’m happy to see that its peak power draw is only around 26% higher.

Packing a GeForce GTX 690 into a so-called mini-ITX case, the temperatures chart is my chance to stick a finger in the eye of convention. When that convention is represented by Chris' former comments, enough said (Ed.: Hey, if you used a Titan you wouldn't have had to finagle that cooling setup!).

In Angelini’s defense, his statement referred to specific enclosures. But sticking to the "eye of convention" theme, it was really the front and side panel vents that made the difference. That is to say, the Tiki and Revolt he mentioned could have been designed to hold this card by simply placing case exhaust vents at both ends of the card's heat sink and an intake hole near its fan.

Efficiency compares work to power, but my data is presented in terms of work over time. That means I need to compare performance to power in order to rate my new system's comparative efficiency loss or gain. An 82% performance gain in games hints towards an efficiency victory, while a 1% difference in storage performance dampens my hopes slightly. I’m happy this time that storage counts towards only 10% of my total performance calculations.

The new system is more efficient than my previous build, but not by the margin I hoped. A 3% gain at stock speed and a smaller 6.4% loss when overclocked could almost be credited to the new build’s pricey 80 PLUS Platinum-rated power supply.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
79 comments
    Your comment
  • sherlockwing
    Interesting $2500 MITX build, granted most people(including me) would have built a $2500 rig around 780 SLI in a ATX case.
    2
  • burnley14
    This just might be my favorite SBM ever, and this particular build my favorite machine of all time. Even if the relative value is slightly lower, many people including myself are willing to pay a small premium for a smaller footprint. Well done!
    6
  • nvidiamd
    this is the best build on toms ever! no substandards and overkills. two thumbs up!
    5
  • slomo4sho
    Seems I was pretty close in my initial guess:

    195632 said:
    -2
  • Madn3ss795
    Assembling part reminds me of LEGO...
    0
  • agnickolov
    I wish the build had a 512GB SSD, but I understand the builder's value sentiment. The fast HDD is pure waste, however. A 2TB HDD can be found for under $100.
    0
  • sarinaide
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX.

    The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
    -1
  • csf60
    I would take a 770 and water-cool that rig any day, but I suppose that's personal preference.
    -2
  • sarinaide
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming, for that is there any particular reason to go with the i7 other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5 yet over a $100 been dropped on it. The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
    -3
  • Crashman
    528675 said:
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX. The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
    At the initialization's initiation, SFF meant "Shuttle Form Factor". The term has since been abused for everything from Micro ATX gaming cubes to book-sized PCs. Book-sized system builders would argue that Shuttle's fairly big traditional boxes aren't true SFF because they're too big, even though the term originally referred to these! If you remove the handles, this case is roughly the size of Shuttle's old 2-slot boxes (it's around 2 inches taller and 2 inches shorter in length)
    528675 said:
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming
    Gaming only? Then when the Core i7?
    528675 said:
    is there any particular reason to go with the i7
    Read pages 16 and 17
    528675 said:
    other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5
    Did you see the overclocking section? Three mediocre i5's in a row and i7 leads to O/C victory, in addition to the gains on pages 16 and 17.
    528675 said:
    The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
    Did you see a heat issue? I did not. Why would someone want to spend more money for less gaming performance? Or are you now saying that this is not a gaming PC?
    3
  • tomate2
    528675 said:
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming, for that is there any particular reason to go with the i7 other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5 yet over a $100 been dropped on it. The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.


    For future reference: you should read an article before posting so that you don't make a fool of yourself.
    3
  • de5_Roy
    really enjoyed reading the article, reading the assembly part was fun. the build looks great imho.

    i think this build wins in terms of performance per heat or temperature per volume(size of the pc). i know the metric sounds weird but that is a Lot of performance crammed into that small case. a titan would possibly improve temperature and still be a lot faster than 7870xt(comparing past q's enthusiast pc) even though it was unavailable during ordering the parts). for example, you can't squeeze an fx8350 (no mini itx mobo) in that case, and trinity only goes up to 2module/4threads.
    edit: just realized how unfortunate gtx780's launch timing is... it coulda been a good candidate for the high end performance pc. may be next quarter....
    0
  • ehanger
    Nothing that couldn't be built a year ago.
    3
  • Onus
    It was interesting to see specific mods / add-ons called out in this build; I'm not sure I've seen that done before, but the results were certainly worthwhile.
    I'd love to win this one. My own games (especially at 1920x1080) don't need a GTX690 so I might swap in a lesser card in order to use the drive cage, but this would be one sweet system to sit on my desk.
    How loud were the fans?
    0
  • antemon
    why in the world did no one use the HAF XB or the A30?
    -4
  • sarinaide
    133773 said:
    why in the world did no one use the HAF XB or the A30?


    I am assuming its because its for M-ITX only albeit that the HAF XB could take ITX and is as big as a Prodigy.
    2
  • ojas
    Very interesting build! At least predicted a Platinum PSU correctly :P

    I was expecting a Titan or a 780, though. CPU choice was pretty much a given.

    And no one's hating your PSU choice, so far too :D

    122690 said:
    Quote:
    It was harder to notice with the previous build’s lower frame rate, but both configurations hit a snag at 2560x1600 and the Ultra quality preset. That snag is memory, where 2 GB of graphics RAM simply isn’t enough. The new build's so-called 4 GB card only gives 2 GB to each GPU, and that proves to be a problem.
    Um... no? There is no justification for this. 2560x1600 almost twice as demanding as 1920x1080, and you are just seeing the expected performance drop from the resolution increase. There is no evidence of VRAM limitation.

    Yeah i was thinking the same thing...had it been due to VRAM i'd expect the FPS to be closer together for both builds.
    -2
  • Amdlova
    i will do sli 670 on micro atx mobo... LOL 520W power supply will suport
    mini cases (Y) epic win
    -1
  • Fokissed
    122690 said:
    Quote:
    It was harder to notice with the previous build’s lower frame rate, but both configurations hit a snag at 2560x1600 and the Ultra quality preset. That snag is memory, where 2 GB of graphics RAM simply isn’t enough. The new build's so-called 4 GB card only gives 2 GB to each GPU, and that proves to be a problem.
    Um... no? There is no justification for this. 2560x1600 almost twice as demanding as 1920x1080, and you are just seeing the expected performance drop from the resolution increase. There is no evidence of VRAM limitation.


    Crysis 2 uses 1800MB+(normally) of VRAM at 1920x1080 on my GTX 680 4GB. It peaks at 3GB usage at times. I have no doubt that modern games at high resolution are limited by 2GB of VRAM.
    -1
  • frillybob101
    This is the one I want to win!
    2