System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Results: Far Cry 3 And GRID 2

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is my favorite title to benchmark in this test suite. It’s well-threaded, bringing many entry-level processors to their knees. But it also happens to be the most graphically demanding title these machines need to face. On top of that, our in-game test sequence represents the highest demands you’ll face within the game.

The absence of resolution scaling at 16:9 aspect ratios makes it clear we’re bumping up against CPU limitations in each configuration. However, it’s of little concern as the experience was almost buttery smooth.

Last quarter’s PC survived through 4800x900 and its minimum frame rates jumped by seven FPS once overclocked. However, our new PC ups the anti even further, by matching that in stock form, and remaining above 40FPS once overclocked. Clearly, even at these reduced settings the graphics cards were the limiting factor for triple-panel gaming.

Ultra Quality continues to punish each and every one of my $500 gaming boxes. At 1280x720, frame rates never dropped below 30FPS, but the experience once again still felt sluggish. Out of the box, the G3258 just can’t handle these demanding settings.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there; with a fairly easy to achieve 4.0GHz, the Pentium now sustained over 40FPS. But once again we lack sufficient graphics muscle to tackle 1920x1080. The new machine wins this game, as dropping to 2X MSAA yields 42FPS averages and 37FPS minimums, which is nearly identical performance seen last quarter with AA totally disabled.


In GRID 2, both machines breeze through 4800x900 at the system-bound High Quality preset.

Cranked to Ultra-quality, with 8X MSAA, (overclocked) we’re now riding the brink of a well balanced platform for this game. Milder overclocking can’t quite match the raw performance of last quarter’s endeavors, but you’ll notice at 1920x1080 we still netted almost five additional FPS by outfitting higher-clocked R9 270X.

  • 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.