Improving High-Res Gaming By Overclocking Graphics
Intel's Core i3 can't be overclocked at all, and I didn't bother trying to eke out gains from the system memory. Rather, I focused all of my tuning efforts where they mattered most: extending the high-resolution gaming capabilities of Zotac's GeForce GTX 770 graphics card through aggressive overclocking.
Right out of the box, the graphics card ran coolly and quietly, with in-game GPU Boost frequencies pinned at 1150 MHz under heavy load. In CPU-limited workloads, clock rate dropped as low as 719 MHz at 0.9 V. That's normal behavior with GPU Boost-enabled hardware, as power-saving features kick in to save power in lighter tasks.
Nvidia's drivers are set to "Adaptive" Power Management Mode by default. While overclocking, however, I changed that to “Prefer Maximum Performance”, which prevents 3D clocks from dipping below the GPU's base value. Since neither the CPU nor the memory are overclocked, today's story gives us the bonus angle of benchmarking the effectiveness of Nvidia's efficiency concession, and see if it has any side effects. You can see slight variations in our charts using CPU-limited quality settings. In short, though, the driver option didn't make a bit of difference. At least in this configuration, the technology works as it should, paring back power consumption and heat without adversely affecting performance.
I had ambitious hopes to hit a 1300 MHz GPU Boost clock rate with this GeForce GTX 770, but ran into instability at 1267 MHz using 1.2 V. Unwilling to give up, I switched to the latest beta build of MSI's Afterburner software, which unlocked a 12 mV bump. The GPU then passed my initial stability testing at 1306 MHz.
The GDDR5 probably had more headroom, but I stopped at a stable 7806 MT/s data rate. To ensure extended stability, I backed both frequency settings down a bit, yielding a 1283 MHz GPU Boost clock rate and 7610 MT/s memory.
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This is the everyday Joe sort of gaming PC... cheap and workable. Why not Core i5 quad-core?Reply
"The games we just added are unquestionably less processor-bound." This sounds like a major oversight, I fear …Reply
nice build, and a good example of how even modern multi-threaded games are STILL at their heart primarily single or dual threaded games. We see this in BF4 most clearly, as the advantage of MOAR CORZ vanishes once you pass the 3rd core on the cpu... meaning a dual cored and hyperthreaded intel is still a viable gaming option; and though you can get an fx8320 for the same price as that i3, almost nothing truely makes use of 8 cores yet. I say yet, because the next gen game consoles will force games to become truly multithreaded in the future. Purhaps down the road the old piledriver chips will start to look like a great gaming value, but the situation today is still largely the same problem facing AMD 3 years ago... which is games simply don't really need MOAR CORZ. Not really anyway. I'm sure some people will have issues with using an i3, but really i think it was a fantastic read; and quite informative. Its important we keep things in perspective... and as things stand now you really don't need much more cpu power then a dual cored pentium or i3... or i guess quad core phenomII or piledriver fx.it all comes down to what you can afford to build around it.Reply
The i3 was a bad choice, why not get an i5-3330 which is about the same in price and it offers 2 more fully enabled cores, which really would help in applications and the 'newer' games.The MOBO would also be cheaper as it is last gen.Reply
the psu was a smart choice for the case, imo. modular cabling prevented the usual clutter seen in cases like these. the resulted unusually clean look of the inside. 80+ gold efficiency is also welcome. i don't think clean cable management can be measured in charts, but it's an added bonus.Reply
That's what I thought too de5_Roy. Modular and 80 PLUS Gold was well worth spending an extra $15.Reply
The i3 was a bad choice, why not get an i5-3330 which is about the same in price and it offers 2 more fully enabled cores, which really would help in applications and the 'newer' games.The MOBO would also be cheaper as it is last gen.
When I first saw the parts list for this build, I expected myself to be in full agreement with you. I mean, can you imagine someone suggesting paring a GTX 680 with an I3? Ludicrous. They'd be laughed out the forums. However, looking at the benchmarks for the highest settings in 1920x1080 and 4800x900, I found there were 2 types of results
1. Those where the I3 and the GTX 770 build beat, or were within a few FPS of the I5 and R9-280X build:
Far Cry 3
2. Those where the I5 and R9-280X beat the I3 and GTX 770 build by a significant margin, but where all frame rates were well above 60FPS:
So, while overall performance percentage charts might put the I3 and GTX 770 behind the I5 and R9-280X behind in certain games, in a real-life setting, it seems that the I3 and GTX 770 is an equally good build. Which is really not what I was expecting.
nalmost nothing truely makes use of 8 cores yet. I say yet, because the next gen game consoles will force games to become truly multithreaded in the future.
Citations desperately needed. The XBOX 360 had 3 hyper-threaded CPUs and the PS3 had a 7-core cell CPU, but this didn't push PC games during this period beyond dual cores. Indeed, as late as January 2012, Tom's hardware was finding it impossible to recommend any Quad-core AMD processors over intel Dual-core processors and as late as December 2012, dual-core Intel pentiums were taking the low-end recommendations, as they were still better at gaming at this point than 4-core AMD processors. Indeed, it wasn't until February 2013 that they reversed this recommendation, so any assumption that consoles having more cores will result in P.C. games using more cores doesn't really stand up to scrutiny, I'm afraid.
The i3 was a bad choice, why not get an i5-3330 which is about the same in price and it offers 2 more fully enabled cores, which really would help in applications and the 'newer' games.The MOBO would also be cheaper as it is last gen.As explained on page 1, the whole idea here with this build was to spend less on the platform, more-than covering the premiums on graphics, RAM, and ODD vs. our last purchase.
Sure we'd go i5 if priced the same. But the -3330 is $60 more @ $190, just like the -3470 used last quarter. The -3350P saves $10 off that. H61 doesn't save much, starting $5-10 below H81, and then we'd give up capitalizing on the i5's limited overclocking.
@bemused_fred - Yes, exactly! Good post.Reply
I was surprised to see i3 didn't yield any meaningful drop in minimum fps, at all! In fact, minimums often appeared GPU-bound, and the new GTX 770 rig won out, especially OC'ed. System bound at 70+ fps and up full-time in Skyrim or F1 2012 is hardly a loss, but an extra 3-8 fps consistently down low in ARMA III and Far Cry 3 could come in handy.
CPU choice is really overated with a single graphic card. The conclusion proves it. I would even stretch to go AMD to cut some money to fetch up two 750ti-760 GTX or 2 R7 graphic card.CF or SLI of two low tier graphic cards provide really good performances for a budget.Reply