System Builder Marathon Q3 2014: Budget Gaming PC

How We Tested Our Q3 2014 Budget Gaming PC Build

The following tables include the stock and overclocked settings for this quarter's budget build, followed by the gaming PC from earlier this year, which is used as a comparison point. At the very bottom you’ll find the programs and games used for benchmarking.

Current Budget Gaming PC System Test Configuration
Component
Base Settings
Overclock Settings
CPUIntel Pentium G3258 (Haswell): 3.2 GHz, 3 MB shared L3 cache, Power-saving features enabled4.1 GHz (41*100), 1.240 V, EIST disabled
CPU CoolerIntel boxed heat sink and fan100% duty cycle
MotherboardMSI H81M-P33
LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express, BIOS: v.1.7 (07-18-2014)
Unchanged
RAM8 GB Team Dark Series PC3-12800 kit
2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.500 V
DDR3-1333, CL 7-7-7-21 at 1.545 V
GraphicsSapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 270 2 GB GDDR5
945 MHz GPU, 1400 MHz (5600 MT/s) memory
1050 MHz GPU @ 1.225 V, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) GDDR5 memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB
  7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated eight-channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated GbE networkingUnchanged
PowerAntec VP 450 450 W Unchanged
OpticalLG 24x SATA DVD burner, GH24NSB0B Unchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 14.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged
Q2 2014 Budget Gaming PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Setting
CPUAMD Athlon X4 750K (Trinity), 3.4 GHz (4 GHz max. Turbo Core), Socket FM2, No L3 Cache, Turbo Core enabled, Power-savings enabled4.2 GHz (42*100), 1.272 V (Load), Turbo Core disabled, Power-savings enabled, 2000 MHz CPU-NB frequency
CPU CoolerAMD boxed heat sink and fanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock FM2A75M Pro4+
AMD A75, BIOS: P1.30 (10-15-13)
Unchanged
RAM8 GB (2 x 4 GB) Team Dark Series DDR3-1600, CL 9-9-9-24 XMP at 1.5 VDDR3-1866, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.625 V
GraphicsMSI R7 265 2GD5 OC 2 GB, 955 MHz GPU, 1400 MHz (5600 MT/s) memory1050 MHz GPU, 1450 MHz (5800 MT/s) GDDR5 memory, Custom fan profile
Hard DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB
  7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated eight-channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated GbE networkingUnchanged
PowerEVGA 100-W1-0430-KR 430 W Unchanged
OpticalAsus 24x DVD burner DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Unchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 14.4Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Arma 3
V. 1.26 Current PC, V.1.20 Q2 PC
30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar"
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO AMD/ HBAO NVidia 
Grid 2Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677, MPEG2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-channel, 16-bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video, 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat XIVersion 11.0.0: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion 2.68a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
Compression
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinRARVersion 5.0, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0, Fire Strike Standard and Extreme
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64 Full Test
SiSoftware Sandra 2014Version: 2014.02.20.10, Processor  Arithmetic,
Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
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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.