System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Results: Synthetics

Bear in mind the similarities of these hardware configurations. Both machines sport the same processor, hard drive, and motherboard. Even the UEFI and Driver versions remain the same. Only the graphics card, memory kit, power supply and case have changed. Our current rig has bolstered graphics core frequencies, but otherwise underwent more conservative overclocking measures with power saving features left enabled.

3DMark Pro 2013

Results in 3DMark Fire Strike are predictable given the hardware similarities of these two machines. The Physics scores scale according to processor frequency, while a bolstered GPU bumps up the current machine’s graphics and overall scores.

PCMark 8

The graphics upgrade also surfaces in increased PC Mark 8 scores, where the new machine only suffers a single loss in the Home Test due to a less aggressive CPU overclock.

SiSoftware Sandra

Our two PCs start out averaging the same scores in Sandra’s Processor Arithmetic and Cryptography tests.

But in the end, less tuning results in a two to three percent performance reduction this quarter.

Although we swapped in a different RAM kit this quarter, the two machines still sport the same DDR3-1333 frequencies and main memory timings. So the eight percent reduction seen here in Sandra’s memory bandwidth measurement is unexpected, and also a bit concerning. However, most important is whether or not this deficiency surfaces again in any of our real-world tests.  

  • 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.