Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Though CPU-limited, both gaming systems breeze through Skyrim’s High detail preset. Our new machine leads by two percent on average, falling just shy of last quarter's overclocked rig. At 1920x1080, only 6 FPS (or 8%) separate the fastest and slowest configurations.

We know you don't spend $170 on a graphics card to play Skyrim at these lower-end settings, though...

At Ultra details and with 8x MSAA applied, this quarter's PC still looks platform-limited (we can tell because frame rates at 1920x1080 match those at 1280x720).

The slight improvement we see across the board on the overclocked config looks like the result of tighter memory timings as much as graphics overclocking. We still see notable gains compared to last quarter's PC, though. Last time around, overclocking bolstered performance at 1920x1080 by 14%. Our efforts this time yield a 27% boost at stock settings and a 32% increase overclocked.

In the end, both machines easily cut through Skyrim’s highest detail levels, maintaining at least 40 FPS at all times. However, they also share the same weakness: graphics cards with 1 GB of on-board memory. I'm sure that many of the Tom's Hardware readers who play Skyrim on their PCs don't run the vanilla game. If you plan to use the official high-resolution texture pack and/or other mods to improve this title's quality, stepping up to a 2 GB card would probably be worthwhile.

  • killerchickens
    $501 Plus $100 for a copy of windows 7.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    killerchickens$501 Plus $100 for a copy of windows 7.Run Linux, this is a hardware shootout.
    Reply
  • willyroc
    I personally feel that they could have gone with H61 and gotten a 2GB 7850 instead.
    Reply
  • killerchickens
    CrashmanRun Linux, this is a hardware shootout.
    Linux for a gaming desktop I dont think so.
    Reply
  • willyroc
    Not to mention that the 500GB version of the HDD is only $3 more.
    Reply
  • jerm1027
    Our best alternative remained the quad-core Phenom II X4 995 Black Edition for $95. But we chose not to revisit this old favorite, figuring that adding a Radeon HD 7850 would have taxed our budget.
    What about the Phenom II 965? It's only $75 at TigerDirect.
    Reply
  • killerchickens
    Why is Windows 8 Professional being used?
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    9539399 said:
    I personally feel that they could have gone with H61 and gotten a 2GB 7850 instead.

    I think they'd be better off with a B75 motherboard, 4GB RAM and an i3-3220.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    I am not very comfortable using windows8 in these benches. Reason : Drivers have not yet matured for win8. I would have waited for the next quarter SBM before using win8.
    Reply
  • killerchickens
    Windows is free and we use Linux in are gaming Machines what are we in Soviet Russia .
    Reply