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System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: Budget Gaming PC

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

The following tables include the stock and overclocked settings for the current budget build, followed by the less expensive Gaming PC from last quarter, which will serve as a baseline comparison point. Also, we’ll add a costlier one-year-old machine to the mix, which combined Core i3 (Haswell) with beefier GeForce GTX 770 graphics. 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 Core i3-4150 (Haswell): 3.5GHz, 3MB Shared L3 Cache, Power savings enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock H81M-HDS LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express, BIOS: v.1.90 (07-08-2014)Unchanged
RAM8GB G.Skill Ripjaws PC3-12800 kit 2x 4048MB at DDR3-1600, CL 11-11-11-28 at 1.5VDDR3-1600, XMP CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.5V
GraphicsSapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 280 3GB GDDR5 940MHz (Boost) GPU, 1250MHz (5000MT/s) Memory1080MHz GPU, 1300MHz (5400MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB, 7200 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerEVGA 100-W1-500-KR 500WUnchanged
OpticalAsus DRW-24B1ST/BLK SATA 24x DVD BurnerUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 14.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged

Q4 2014 Budget Gaming PC System Test Configuration

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Pentium G3258 (Haswell): 3.2GHz, 3MB Shared L3 Cache, Power savings enabled4GHz (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
RAM8GB  Team Vulcan PC3-12800 kit 2x 4048MB at DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 at 1.5VDDR3-1333, CL 7-8-8-24 at 1.545V
GraphicsMSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming 2GB GDDR5 1080MHz GPU, 1400MHz (5600MT/s) Memory1140MHz GPU, 1500MHz (6000MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB, 7200 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerEVGA 100-W1-500-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

Q1 2014 $750 PC System Test Configuration

ComponentBase SettingsOverclock Setting
CPUIntel Core i3-4130 (Haswell): 3.4GHz, 6MB Shared L3 Cache, Power savings enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardAsus H81M-K LGA 1150, Intel H81 Express, BIOS: v.0304 (08-23-13)Unchanged
RAM8GB  Adata PC3-12800 kit 2x 4048MB at DDR3-1600, CL 9-9-9-24 XMP at 1.5VUnchanged
GraphicsZotac ZT-70301-10P GeForce GTX 770 2GB GDDR5 1059MHz (1150MHz Max Boost) GPU, 1.2V, 1753MHz (7010MT/s) Memory1283MHz (Max Boost) GPU, 1903MHz (7610MT/s) GDDR5 Memory (+12mV, 106% Power, Custom Fan Profile)
Hard DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB, 7200 RPM, 16MB CacheUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerRosewill Capstone-450-M 450W ATXUnchanged
OpticalAsys 24x DVD Burner DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEMUnchanged
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverNvidia ForceWare 332.21 WHQLUnchanged
Platform DriverIntel Inf. v. 9.4.0.1017Unchanged

Benchmark Settings

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
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video, Three 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
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48kHz, 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 (160Kb/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 (44.1kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
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
File 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 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion: 2014.02.20.10, Processor Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
  • cmi86
    Over all I like it. I am glad to see that you went with the superior R9 280 over the thoroughly underwhelming GTX 960, which I thought you may have felt obligated to include in the budget build. Only minor gripe I have is that I am sure you could have saved five dollars somewhere to get that SSD in there, case maybe ?
    Reply
  • TNT27
    ehh, id rather drop down to a regular 210 case, and get a better psu
    Reply
  • damric
    Should have used Windows 10 Preview instead of paying $100 for OS. It's an obvious choice for a cheap build.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    15365194 said:
    Should have used Windows 10 Preview instead of paying $100 for OS. It's an obvious choice for a cheap build.

    I disagree, eventually windows 10 preview will stop working when windows 10 is officially out. And for people viewing and building a duplicate rig off this post half to a year later, they would be out of luck.

    Nice computer! I personally would have chosen a gigabyte mobo instead.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I didn't like it. I can't help but think I'll get lots of downvotes, but it looks like a hodgepodge of throwaway parts. By that I mean every choice was an example of "settling" for less than what was probably wanted. On a tight budget, with limited or no future upgrade possibilities, maybe it is the best that can be done. Throw in some possible future upgrades though, and I would have made some sacrifices for the benefit of future growth. For example, I'd rather see a more competent mobo (e.g. to allow a data RAID1), PSU, and storage (i.e. including a SSD), and would have lowered the CPU and/or graphics card (depending on benchmarks) in order to get there. As good as most modern games look even on a mix of "high" and "medium" settings, this would create a system with much longer-lasting core components, and snappier "home-user" performance (because of the SSD). Future GPU and/or CPU upgrades in a year or so would keep the whole system humming right along.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    This is the best Budget Gaming PC I've seen on this site. Love the choices. Did not skimp and no overkill on one component while weak other components. For a build under $600 you could not have done better. This will max out 1080p gaming!
    Reply
  • MerryLane
    Why not buy an AIO cooler with these 100 dollars and overclock the hell out of the pentium?
    After all the i3 has only two cores too ... and no overclocking possible.

    I'm pretty sure that 50% overclocking is greater than 2 extra threads that give at best 30%.

    There are also great bundles everywhere, G3258 + motherboard for cheaper.

    The GTX 960 also seem more future proof than a 280 and barely more expansive.
    Reply
  • TNT27
    15366289 said:
    Why not buy an AIO cooler with these 100 dollars and overclock the hell out of the pentium?
    After all the i3 has only two cores too ... and no overclocking possible.

    I'm pretty sure that 50% overclocking is greater than 2 extra threads that give at best 30%.

    There are also great bundles everywhere, G3258 + motherboard for cheaper.

    The GTX 960 also seem more future proof than a 280 and barely more expansive.

    Are you serious in saying that you belive a gtx 960 is more future proof? The r9 280 is on par or better than the 960, and its cheaper. When overclocked the 280 can reach into gtx 770 territory. Its also go a wider bus, and a extra gig of vram= much better performance in higher resolutions, and newer games that are starting to use that gig of vram.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    I've built with that case before, and it is really surprisingly good for it's cost. But I got it for $35 at my local computer parts store. Regular price. If you're paying $50 for it, you're mad.
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    I don't see why SSDs are being considered a necessity. With Windows 8 and the fast startup you don't even need to worry about waiting a minute, and on a budget I don't see why it's worth the extra money just to calm one's impatience for 10 seconds of loading.
    Reply