Results: F1 2012 And Far Cry 3
As with Skyrim, our two machines are CPU-bound in F1 2012. The more expensive Core i5 establishes a good lead in average and minimum framerates. But we can certainly argue that the advantage is overkill, since both rigs are capable of delivering a minimum of 60 FPS+ using the Ultra detail setting at 4800x900.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 is the most demanding game we tested during our System Builder Marathons this past year, and one of those rare titles that justifies an investment in high-end graphics for medium-resolution gaming.
At High-quality settings with anti-aliasing applied, there's a hint of a graphics bottleneck appearing at 1920x1080. In my opinion, the stock $650 PC is playable through 4800x900, since this game doesn't require high framerates for an enjoyable experience, and minimums don't dip below 34 FPS. Gamers who insist on higher averages will likely value the 49 FPS minimum achieved by my $800 PC.
At our Ultra-quality settings with 4x MSAA enabled, a GeForce GTX 760 is about as low as you'd want to go to play at 1920x1080. The stock $650 system averages less than 37 FPS, but never drops below 32 FPS. An aggressively overclocked GeForce GTX 760 or today's system's factory-tuned R9 280X is capable of sustaining at least 40 FPS.
Although neither configuration survives through 4800x900 at these taxing settings, simply disabling MSAA made the $800 machine playable. In fact, while I was stability testing the overclocked $800 PC, I put in more than two hours of game time and had no issues with smoothness. My box averaged 39.4 FPS and never dropped below 36, putting it above the stock $650 PC’s frame rates scaled back to the High preset.
Not all countries have good internet infrastructure. If that wasn't the case Microsoft wouldn't have to reverse its policies on the X1. Another thing is retail game DVDs costs very less in my country. For example, Bioshock Infinite costs only 15.97$ at launch date. If I were to buy it through Steam at launch date it would have cost me 59.99$
I know that the writers of "best CPUs" for the money always make a huge fuss about how "oh, you save 7W (or however much it is) by not having the on-board graphics", but I still think it's worth keeping, for if your discrete card gives out on you. My PC buggered up installing my graphics drivers once, and if it weren't for my intel "backup" GPU, my rig would have been bricked.
For us, both were available from Newegg at a $10 difference. Either is fine. I chose the -3350P back for the Q1 $600 Gaming PC, and it's OC was limited to 3.5-3.7 GHz with this same Z75 Pro3 mobo. But I actually prefer the -3470 at these prices for reasons stated in the text (higher clocks and backup HD 2500 graphics). It fit in under budget, and its higher Turbo limit provide a 300 MHz boost across the board (3.8-4.0 GHz) when overclocking. That right there is worth $10 in an SBM where value equals a straight bang for buck calculation.
My own thoughts on this one are mixed. I like to see the challenge of a lower budget. This $800 PC was quite good, however. With the focus on gaming this SBM cycle, this one looks like a shoe-in for value winner. I don't see what two or three times the budget will buy that can offer similar multiples of performance, especially that will be visible in actual use.
That said, for my own uses, I'd take the "High" to "Max" settings in my games that a GTX650Ti Boost would offer, and put the balance into a SSD.
I currently just built a "budget" machine for my son which ended up close to $850. That build was using an Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz to (O.C. to 4.3GHz @ 38 C), w/ an Enermax ETS-T40-TB 86.7 CFM CPU Cooler.
What I wanted had to be tempered with what I could squeeze into the budget so a new Asus Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card was put in for now. A WD Caviar (Blue) 1TB drive was put in for storage, G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory and a Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply to make it all run. Windows 8.1 was installed and the case is a nice looking Corsair 350D case.
My working theory is this rig will run well now and a new video card, better CPU cooler with a faster stronger CPU and an SSD down the road are all manageable upgrades that could keep this machine running good, playable frame rates for several years down the road.
There is always more than one way to skin a cat and to me this was the least amount I would build with.