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Lower clock speeds and transistor counts typically allow lower-cost components to draw less energy.
Yet, the least-expensive system also had the lowest performance, and efficiency hangs in the balance.
The $550 machine’s power consumption is completely acceptable by gaming PC standards, even when overclocked. The $2,000 PC, on the other hand, draws nearly as much power as a small microwave, but only when overclocked and placed under an extraordinarily high load level.
The performance chart almost inverts the power consumption chart, with the overclocked $2,000 system pushing nearly three times the average performance of our $550 baseline.
Dividing average performance by average power reveals average efficiency. The cheapest system often has the highest efficiency, but this month it barely managed to edge out its competitors. Overclocking improved the efficiency of all three systems in this month’s System Builder Marathon, because the performance of each system increased by a larger amount than its power consumption.