As I was writing the introductory text, I realized it wasn’t enough to compare today's PC to last quarter’s Core i3-based mini-ITX build. No, I was expecting huge things from this machine. So, I added all of the data I had for the $600 build from earlier this year, which sported a more expensive Core i5-3350P married to milder Radeon HD 7850 graphics. Because we can’t afford a K-series Core i5 at this budget level, both processors pretty much round out what Ivy Bridge can do against AMD’s FX-6300.
The six-core Vishera-based CPU reclaims much of what we gave up last quarter in 3DMark 11’s Physics and Combined tests, yielding an overall higher 3DMark score. Today's overclocking efforts give us a higher graphics score also. Overall, this is a good start for our current gaming PC.
PCMark7 exposes the limitations of our mechanical hard drive, but otherwise suggests a step in the right direction as far as system performance goes. I'm not exactly sure why this quarter's system comes up so short in PCMark 7’s Media Center storage test, but AMD just doesn't seem to do well in this metric.
The prognosis looks bad for Intel’s value-oriented parts in SiSoftware Sandra 2013. A locked multiplier prevents the Hyper-Threaded dual-core CPU from competing in the Arithmetic module, while an unfortunate lack of AES-NI support creates embarrassment in the Cryptography test.
We usually shop for the cheapest memory kits when we configure our least expensive gaming system, and neither rig demonstrates very impressive bandwidth. A bargain-priced 4 GB kit with low-latency DDR3-1600 helps stretch Core i3’s lead, while loose timings negate any benefit we might have seen from overclocking this month’s 1.65 V kit to 1866 MT/s.