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System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

How We Tested Our Q4 2014 Budget Gaming PC

The following tables include the stock and overclocked settings for current budget build, followed by the gaming PC from last quarter, 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
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Pentium G3258 (Haswell): 3.2GHz, 3 MB Shared L3 Cache, Power savings enabled4.0 GHz (40*100), 1.19V, EIST Enabled
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanCustom Fan Setttings
MotherboardMSI H81M-P33 LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express, BIOS: v.1.7 (07-18-2014)Unchanged
RAM8.0 GB  Team Vulcan PC3-12800 kit 2x 4048MB, @ DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.500VDDR3-1333, CL 7-8-8-24 at 1.545V
GraphicsMSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming 2GB GDDR5 1080 MHz GPU, 1400 MHz (5600 MT/s) Memory1140 MHz GPU, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 1TB, 72000 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 8 -Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerEVGA 100-W1-0500-KR 500WUnchanged
OpticalLG 24X SATA DVD Burner Model GH24NSB0BUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 14.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged
Q3 2014 Budget Gaming PC System Test Configuration
ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Pentium G3258 (Haswell): 3.2GHz, 3 MB Shared L3 Cache, Power savings enabled4.1 GHz (41*100), 1.240V, 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
RAM8.0 GB  Team Dark Series PC3-12800 kit 2x 4048MB, @ DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.500VDDR3-1333, CL 7-7-7-21 at 1.545V
GraphicsSapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 270 2GB GDDR5 945 MHz GPU, 1400 MHz (5600 MT/s) Memory1050 MHz GPU @ 1.225V, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 1TB, 72000 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated 8 -Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec VP 450 450WUnchanged
OpticalLG 24X SATA DVD Burner Model GH24NSB0BUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 14.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Arma 3V. 1.34 Current PC, V.1.26 Q3 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, 48000 Hz, 2-Kanal, 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 (MPEG2), Audio:MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps) 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 15.7MB 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 Encyption
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 (1.3GB)
WinRARVersion 5.0, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3GB)
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3GB)
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
  • airplanegeek
    Why is the PSU fan facing up instead of down? Doesn't that affect the cooling of the PSU?
    Reply
  • 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.

    Umm...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • sea monkey
    totally disappeared from site

    sight

    while monitor temperatures

    monitoring

    to be sure it could bee done

    be

    none the less

    nonetheless

    it’s R9 270X graphics card

    its

    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
    Reply
  • codyleemanofaction
    Darn those moving prices! I was hoping to see the R9 280 make it!
    Reply
  • 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. ;)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply