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Power Consumption, Performance Summary, And Efficiency

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $750 Gaming PC
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For all testing of these value systems, power-saving features were disabled and Windows 7’s power options were set to high performance. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at the total system-power usage measured from the AC source.

We normally see excellent power-consumption numbers for a dual-core Wolfdale processor, but the pair of Radeon HD 4870s used in December drastically impacts both idle and load consumption. Also utilizing an Antec EA650W power supply, the March PC consumes less energy while generally offering far better performance. Interestingly, at idle or with just a single CPU core loaded in FurMark, the unlocked quad consumed exactly the same power as the slightly higher clocked triple-core.

Performance Summary

While our best tweaking efforts only delivered a 15%-18% average performance gain in games, one must consider the already-stellar level of performance this value PC was able to deliver at stock speeds. Had our gaming suite not been updated and results for the stock Pentium E5300 from December been used as a baseline, we’d likely see the average boost far exceed 50%.

Overclocking alone delivers sizeable gains in the encoding and productivity applications, but the successful unlocking of the Athlon II X3 435’s fourth core is what truly steals the show here. Simply put, with the exception of iTunes and Xvid encoding, this system blows away all of the previous dual-core value machines throughout the entire encoding and applications suite. Without question, a new bar has been set for application performance, one that isn’t likely going to be topped with less than four processing cores.

Efficiency

The combination of unlocking and overclocking provides a 37% boost to an already-respectable level of stock performance. Power consumption certainly jumps when all four cores are loaded, but the 12% boost in efficiency based on averages is nonetheless still fairly impressive.

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