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Power, Heat, And Efficiency

System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: The $2400 People’s Choice PC

We already knew that the previous build’s six-core processor and Hawaii-based graphics cards were energy hogs. But at least that machine idled down to reasonably low power consumption. My latest effort is even more miserly, though not to the degree I was expecting.

The chart below shows global power consumption, which includes losses inside the power supply. At 85% efficiency, the new system’s 802 W peak input power turns into 682 W of output for its Corsair HX750 power supply.

Noticing that the new machine draws 116 W less under full CPU load, our temperature chart might make a few readers do a double-take.

Both setups use the same CPU cooler, yet the current system's four-core CPU runs far hotter than the previous build’s six-core processor. The Haswell architecture's issues with heat are a glaring flaw in an otherwise excellent product.

Tom's Hardware readers who want a multi-purpose machine with an emphasis on gaming will be happy with the change to GeForce GTX 780 cards and a Core i7-4770K. Is the new build's advantage in games strong enough to counter the previous machine’s productivity lead, at least giving us a tie at stock clock rates?

Truth be told, one reason last quarter's box sunk to the new machine's performance levels at stock settings was that its workstation-oriented SATA driver sacrificed performance in the name of data integrity. After reverting back to Windows 8’s stock AHCI driver for its overclocked configuration, storage scores jumped by 15%. Thus, the new machine is not as strong as my combined scores would have us believe.

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