System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Results: Arma 3 And Battlefield 4

Arma 3

Our Infantry Showcase test is most effective when comparing graphics cards, but doesn’t properly reflect just how taxing Arma 3 can be on the processor. To compensate, I shoot for an average of at least 50FPS, though I ultimately base my conclusions on time spent playing Altis Map showcases like Fixed Wings and Gunships.

Both of these gaming rigs are mainly CPU-limited over a single FHD panel, but ultimately survive through 4800x900 at standard defaults.

These Pentiums are relatively strong in Arma 3, proving to be far more capable than Trinity-based AMD Athlon competition. However we believe you’ll need to bolster clocks whenever attempting Ultra details.

Graphics limitations appear by 1920x1080 and our new machine’s R9 270X is clearly more up to the task. However, the overall experience on demanding maps still wasn’t up to par. When hitting those, I’d be inclined to dial down settings a bit for smoother game play.

Battlefield 4

Barring any frame pacing or micro-stuttering issues, 40FPS on average here in this demanding sequence should remain quite playable through the entire single player campaign.

When I first fired up Battlefield 4 on our new PC, the game was an absolute stutter-fest. It hung for many seconds just getting into the game, and then took frequent single digit fps hits during our test sequence. Why didn’t this happen on the last PC sporting the same processor, graphical architecture, and driver package? The answer was pretty simple; I forgot to uncheck “Enable Origin in Game”. Once this feature was disabled, there was a night and day difference; things smoothed right out, and I could proceed with benchmarking the game.

Battlefield 4 favors more available resources, and the dual-core Pentium caps the frame rates. At medium details, last quarter’s higher overclock claims victories up until triple-panel graphical demands. However any one of these configurations handles medium details just fine.

The beefier graphics card comes in handy at Ultra-quality, and our current PC leads at all four resolutions, both stock and overclocked. Multi-player may shift these demands, but the Campaign is easily playable in FHD on both of these overclocked configurations.

  • airplanegeek
    Why is the PSU fan facing up instead of down? Doesn't that affect the cooling of the PSU?
  • sea monkey
    Upon submission of the form:

    The Sweepstakes opens on September 23, 2014 12 noon PDT and closes on October 6, 2014 12 noon PDT.

  • pauldh
    Yes it would. And it is facing down, just hidden from sight in the photo. The PSU fan's venting holes are flush with (and actually a part of) it's shell.
  • Zeh
    Just a hint: you SHOULD be using an air conditioner so you can have the same room temperature over the year.
    Preferably one with Inverter technology, which will decrease the temperature delta (it doesn't start-stop once it reaches a given temperature threshold).
  • Onus
    Hmmm, I see some kudos for the VP-450 in here, being remarkably efficient despite not being 80+ (it is disqualified for 80+ for not having Active PFC).
    Since the purpose of these SBM machines is (imho) to learn things, I would have liked to have seen a different mobo used, for comparison.
    I appreciate the thoughtful approach to overclocking that was used here.
    The only niggle I can't resist is the $18 for the optical drive. For months, I've been seeing one or another of them for around $13-$14. That seems a small thing, but that $4-$5 plus the leftover may have bought either a better cooler or a faster HDD.
  • sea monkey
    totally disappeared from site


    while monitor temperatures


    to be sure it could bee done


    none the less


    it’s R9 270X graphics card


    Yet, both machines share a similar weakness, they’re outfitted with a dual-core Pentium capable of juggling only two threads at a time.

    comma splice

    outputting to 3-panels

    three panels
  • codyleemanofaction
    Darn those moving prices! I was hoping to see the R9 280 make it!
  • lesmore2222
    I agree with cody. I really wanted to see the difference a r9 280 would make as well. This was just too similar to the last build. Should have bought the r9 280 anyway and fibbed on the price a little. ;)
  • ingtar33
    A final thought to consider is at what point will the next big game on your radar force an early upgrade to Core i5? It might not be too far off, as Far Cry 4, which launched a week after we ordered this machine, completely lacks official support for dual-threaded processors.

    same with the game of the year, Dragon Age Inquisition.

    I suspect it's time to drop dual cores as a build suggestion.
  • BoredSysAdmin
    Great build. I would probably never built it exactly like the article (more ram, sdd - etc), but it provides great bones to build upon.