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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $800 Gaming PC

Results: Synthetics

I’m confident that the AMD FX-6300 and GeForce GTX 760 from last quarter would still make a killer $650 PC. It'd game well and fare admirably in the more office-oriented tests we run, too.

This quarter we spent almost $150 more, dumping as much of that as possible into processing and graphics. Was the cash well-spent?


Our new PC is off to a good start, securing increases across the board in all of 3DMark 11's scores that average out to +30%. Even though Intel limits overclocking on non -K-series chips, we still enjoy a substantial boost in 3DMark 11's threaded Physics test.

The factory-overclocked Radeon R9 280X delivers big results for our $800 system in its stock form, though with little headroom left for overclocking, the graphics scores don't improve much. We also added 3DMark Fire Strike for our Day 4 comparison, but don't have data for last quarter's rig to compare.

Strong performance from AMD’s FX-6300 and the limitations of identical mechanical storage configurations prevent this quarter's PC from breaking away in PCMark 8's Creative or Storage tests.

The Home and Work scores do increase though, bolstering the current machine's overall average performance gains to a modest 13%.

Intel’s Ivy Bridge architecture really shines in SiSoftware Sandra 2013. Processor Arithmetic and Memory Bandwidth are up about 28%. With AES-NI support pushing encryption performance as fast as the memory interface delivers instructions to the CPU, Cryptography performance jumps a massive 84%.

We didn’t tweak memory beyond its 1600 MT/s XMP settings this quarter, while the need to loosen timings negated any benefit we might have seen from overclocking last quarter’s kit to 1866 MT/s.