System Builder Marathon Q3 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

Processor power-saving features were enabled on both stock configurations, including last quarter’s overclocked setup. But because the Pentium processor I'm using this time around is already such a low-power component, I didn't try to tune with EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) enabled.

It's no surprise that a two-core Haswell-based CPU uses less power than AMD's 100 W Athlon X4. However, I didn't think that this quarter's overclocked configuration would need less power than last quarter's stock setup. Consumption while gaming is also down. Although you won't find this information in the chart, our new overclock peaks at just 197 W during a 10-minute Far Cry 3 sequence. That's 14 W less than last quarter's stock settings.

Other observations to note are the idle impact of disabling EIST, plus how little extra power is consumed under full system load (compared to the GPU-only measurement). 3DMark relies less on the host processor than our games, but still taxes one core (or in this case, half the Pentium’s available resources).

The peak CPU load temperature used for this calculation is the Pentium’s hotter-running core while stability testing in Prime95. Pushed to 1.238 V, a reasonable 72 degrees Celsius was lower than I imagined for the stock cooler. Even better, neither core climbed above 57 Celsius while playing Far Cry 3. Airflow from our enclosure’s three fans must have successfully helped the boxed heat sink do its job.

Last quarter, I had to use the motherboard’s CPU socket temperature readings for the Athlon X4 750K. However, my main focus while overclocking was directed towards Thermal Margins as reported by AMD OverDrive, which under load still indicated we had a reasonable cushion of 25 degrees Celsius.

As long as there is sufficient case airflow, our 10-minute burn test sitting outside Far Cry 3’s Amanki Outpost quickly heats the GPU up as much as an hour of normal gameplay. Although last quarter I ramped up cooling with a custom fan profile while overclocking, this Radeon R9 270 runs plenty cool at Sapphire's automatic fan settings, peaking at 44% duty cycle.

With our temperatures in check on both systems, the current PC's most pleasing feature is its low noise. Although Intel’s bundled thermal solution is the quieter of the two coolers, the largest noise-maker could have been mitigated last quarter by simply replacing or disconnecting the annoying side-panel fan. I only plugged that one in while overclocking to help keep my Athlon CPU cool.

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  • Memnarchon
    Wow! Pentium G3258 becoming a monster for that price, once it goes over 4Ghz...
  • g-unit1111
    I would personally love to get a Pentium G3258 for my HTPC, it's only like $50 at Micro Center and the motherboard is $70 at Newegg. Hmm... decisions, decisions. :lol:
  • ScienceGuy3
    What about the Frame Times? Isn't this processor notorious for bad frame times in heavily threaded games like BF4?
  • elbert
    Quote:
    serves up to 30 A across its +12 V rails.

    Its rated to serve up to 30 Amps but can do far more. Tests on this little gem shows it can output 22amps on each rail and maxes out around 38~39 Amps on both. Im paraphrasing a popular power supply testing site. Max wattage is about 553ish which is a good deal more than rated. This power supply can't be certified due to it lacks a circuit required but exceeds 80 percent efficiency.
  • de5_Roy
    a lot of things went right for this build: amd introduced the full pitcairn/curacao gpu based r9 270 under 150w, needing single 6 pin pcie power connector, cryptocurrency craze was over and gfx card prices came down, hdd prices came down to sane levels, cpu-overhead-reducing gfx card drivers came out, intel released an unlocked dual core cpu and allowed o.c. bioses....
  • jdwii
    I'm just not sure for one they didn't show latency times. I'm pretty sure this build will suck for future gaming to such as GTA5.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pentium-g3258-overclocking-performance,3849-5.html
    When toms reviewed this CPU it was shown to have poor latency
    For a 500$ build i would probably do a 6300+265 build. 600$ i would probably jump the build up to a I5+265 or 8320+270X.
  • Onus
    No stuttering? Very interesting; looks like more testing might be needed, but perhaps settings can also be adjusted.
  • akula2
    Since this CPU is super performer on various fronts (single core), so why not this config?

    Pentium G3258 - $69.97
    NZXT Kraken X31 - $73.98
    Asus MAXIMUS VII HERO - $203.99
    G.Skill Trident X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 - $184.99
    Crucial M550 1TB 2.5" SSD - $447.98
    Asus GeForce GTX 970 4GB STRIX - $349.99


    NZXT Phantom 530 (White) - $121.98
    EVGA 650W ATX12V - $64.99 (not sure about its power good signal value?)
    Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer - $16.99

    Asus VG248QE Monitor - $264.99

    D-Link DWA-171 802.11a/b/g/n/ac USB 2.0 - $29.27
    Logitech MK550 w/Laser Mouse - $49.99
    Corsair Vengeance 2100 - $79.99
    Logitech Z506 155W 5.1ch - $69.99

    Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional (32/64-bit) - $170.99

    Total: $2200

    What you guys think? Usage? Racing Games at homes, audio/video encoding etc. I don't need K CPUs because I'm not in a hurry in this case.

    Power source: 100% green aka Solar energy.
  • Janemba
    Will 400 watt enough for R7 265 ?? tell me ??
    i use i3-4130 btw.
  • alchemy69
    Very similar to the system I just put together for myself except that I felt a 260X was more than enough power for the GPU and put the savings towards a small SSD for the boot drive.
  • Tzn
    Nice but if you really want a cheap one that will drop your jaw you should consider G1820+GTX 750Ti from Evga(display port) and 2X4 gb ddr3 1600mhz ram. Give it a try, you might run naked on streets when you will see how it runs Battlefield 4, not to consider the the low price :)
  • InvalidError
    45049 said:
    Quote:
    serves up to 30 A across its +12 V rails.
    Its rated to serve up to 30 Amps but can do far more. Tests on this little gem shows it can output 22amps on each rail and maxes out around 38~39 Amps on both. This power supply can't be certified due to it lacks a circuit required but exceeds 80 percent efficiency.

    To be more specific, the VP450 lacks PFC circuitry and as you said, this is required for 80+ certification. If the VP450 had it, it might manage 80+ Bronze.

    I bought one last month to replace an old PSU (Antec SmartPower SL350) that got damaged by a power surge. At a glance, it looks like a nice little unit... and it is tier-2b too, which means close to as-good-as-it-gets.
  • gallovfc
    Hey Paul ! How's it going !? It would be MUCH better if you, Thomas and Don posted the links to the three machines' 3DMark and PcMark 8 results, so we could be able to compare them to ours. Hope you gyus are still able to post it at "Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected".
  • Amdlova
    pentium g3258 IS THE KING!
  • Rafy93
    Athlon 860k...
  • Rafy93
    The Athlon 860k is more future-proof , waiting for a review...
  • milkod2001
    @akula2

    you could possibly get mobo for half of your estimated price and put this money towards better CPU(that's necessary for video/audio encoding).

    Also Crucial M550 1TB 2.5" SSD - $447.98 is overkill, you'll be better off with 256GB SSD & 3 TB regular HDD = more capacity and your saved money could be spent on better PSU(Seasonic, Corsair, whatever).
  • elbert
    @milkod2001

    You may want to put Antec at the first place in that list. Look them up as they are oldest and second to none in power supply companys. Seasonic was once their main manufacturer and many of their units are designed off Antecs leading power supply designs. Look up on newegg for example the highest rated power supply and you will see the Antec earthwatt 380. At the 650 Watt they again are the highest rated with Seasonic in about a second place. Their 750 hcg is about a tight with Corsairs much higher priced HX 750i.

    Trust me that PSU is the best part of that build. While it doesn't have a second PCI-e power plug you could use a molex to PCI-e connecter and run a R9 285. Again this power supply is highly under rated in both watts and Amps output.
  • Onus
    Although I agree that Antec is one of the better PSU companies out there today, they did release a few stinkers maybe 10-12 years ago (Smartpower, iirc). They were not built by Seasonic, and used inferior capacitors, that failed. Back then when I was building PCs I wouldn't touch an Antec PSU; now it is one of my preferred choices. I haven't used a VP-450 yet, but have put numerous EA-380D's out there, with no failures yet.
    This is what Corsair is doing now, with their CX (and I believe GS) lines; CWT builds them with Samxon capacitors that can't take heat. If you're interested, you can read more about these over on the badcaps.org forum.
  • pauldh
    Yep Onus, Antec has come a long way since those days. I had numerous (originally bundled) SmartPower and SmartPower 2.0's fail and come back within the 3-5 year time frame. The move to EarthWatts was a huge plus for their cases w/power supplies.

    @ elbert, Just to clarify, There was no intent to discount the familiar VP-450 in any way, and my original "30 Amp combined +12V rating" got toned down a bit in edits, for the sake of a better read. When discounted/priced competitively it has become my go-to PSU for budget builds requiring auxiliary power.
  • ABagOfFritos
    http://i.imgur.com/Y2bDThJ.png
    Classic Tom's

    Look at the top of the image*
  • bmyton
    I am very curious if these builds were purchased after availability of the GTX-970's and 980's. At a minimum the Mid-Range build could swap a $330 970 for the $400 r9-290 they used last quarter and use the savings to boost its system value. The Q2 $1600 build could save $100 by cutting back from the i7-4770k to the i5-4670k and use that savings to convert the $530 r9-290x to an SLI pair of $330 GTX 970's.
  • Onus
    588164 said:
    I am very curious if these builds were purchased after availability of the GTX-970's and 980's...

    Assuredly not. There are weeks of lead time in the SBM builds, from selecting parts and ordering, through all the testing, writeup, and schedule for publication.
  • Onus
    I wonder if there will be a bonus build this quarter. Sometimes, they answer questions raised in past builds, or address specific community interests or requests.

    For my part, I'd like a question answered, which is "Can the AM1 platform with its 25W CPUs and x4 PCIe lane limitation be taken seriously for modern gaming on "good" settings on a single 1920x1080 monitor? PCPer.com used a GTX750Ti with one and it looked promising... TH has yet to address it though.