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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Performance Summary And Efficiency

Performance Summary

We welcome the 24% performance increase Intel's Pentium G860 added to our media encoding and productivity applications, though we also understand that neither test suite is a strong point of today's build. Simply put, each and every time we outfit our gaming PC with a dual-core processor, we sacrifice its alacrity in those disciplines.

Of course, we can’t deny the amazing per-clock performance of Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, or the fact few games know what to do with quad-core CPUs. Even locked at 3 GHz, this chip does make sense for budget-minded gamers. The Celeron G530 previously showed itself to be adequate in our gaming suite. But this quarter's average frame rates at all resolutions jumped 16% thanks to our Pentium (and despite a less-powerful graphics card).

Efficiency

Consuming, on average, 11% less energy, while delivering a 21% boost in overall performance, this quarter's machine strikes out with a crushing win in efficiency.

Graphics overclocking provided a needed frame rate boost at certain key settings. However, the additional voltage and clock rate ate up power, taking a sizeable bite out of the tweaked configuration’s overall efficiency.