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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $500 PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

Power Consumption

A long overdue change was made, and December’s stock $500 PC was tested as most of you would use it, with power saving features enabled. However, during overclocking, Cool’n’Quiet was disabled, the 120 mm exhaust fan raised from low to high speed settings, and the CPU fan’s target speed increased from 50% to 90%.

Loading all CPU and GPU cores with FurMark + Prime95 gives us a good look at the maximum potential power draw the system could face.

The use of a balanced power scheme and energy saving features results in much lower idle and CPU load consumption, but the switch to a more efficient power supply also must be factored into the equation.

Estimating 82% efficiency for the EarthWatts 380 W equates to a peak output draw during full CPU and GPU load of roughly 280 W for today’s overclocked system.

We used the ASRock M3A770DE’s socket sensor for the CPU, and charted peak temperatures above ambient. There’s really too much going on here to pinpoint a meaningful comparison to the prior $400 PC. The stock $500 PC has a lower VID CPU, better CPU cooler, and enabled power saving features, yet the former machine had greater chassis air flow and a higher target rotational speed on its CPU fan.

One thing is clear: the four-core overclock in September was completely limited by CPU temperature, while December’s overclock is mainly limited by the system builder’s unwillingness to pump higher voltage into the CPU.

  • LuckyDucky7
    And this is really the only PC build that will stay relevant come January- it will remain the only budget platform that can be overclocked, after all.

    Incidentally, this would be the only PC you'd want to contemplate building right now (since the new Core i3s don't come out immediately like the i5s and i7s do- and the Pentium G8XX series doesn't allow overclocking of its platform.)
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Ah, much better than the previous build!
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Great job squeezing everything into a very small budget.
    Reply
  • adbat
    Good build - but again it would be good to see old spec on test system page.
    Reply
  • rohitbaran
    That is a great combination for that budget. Balanced.
    Reply
  • yyk71200
    I wouldn't be very comfortable using a 380 watt PSU for a long time for GTX 460 even if it is good quality. Perhaps, I would put in something of 450 watt or higher.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    LuckyDucky7And this is really the only PC build that will stay relevant come January- it will remain the only budget platform that can be overclocked, after all.Incidentally, this would be the only PC you'd want to contemplate building right now (since the new Core i3s don't come out immediately like the i5s and i7s do- and the Pentium G8XX series doesn't allow overclocking of its platform.)So you think there's going to be a replacement platform for the $2000 PC in January? That's not going to happen for a while. Or are you suggesting the next $2000 PC should be downgraded to P67?
    Reply
  • dragoon190
    I haven't been keeping up with the system marathon much, but what's the reasoning for choosing nVidia card over AMD's? Just wondering since I'm thinking about upgrading my computer soon.
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    A really nice build this time.However the price of the case and power supply has gone up in price over at newegg.I haven't checked the prices of the other components though.This build seems to perform quite well especially in the gaming benchmarks.Good job!
    Reply
  • tstng
    I would've gone with a 6850 instead of the 460. It's a tad cheaper, not at all slower if you don't start cranckin' up the tesselation, and should fit the 380W psu a lot better. But a solid build by all means.
    Reply