Our pair of lower-cost builds yields almost identical performance in applications, since they both rely on dual-core Sandy Bridge-based G800-series Pentiums distinguished by a scant 100 MHz. The $650 PC isn’t much more impressive, but it does lead from start to finish, benefiting from a faster Ivy Bridge-based Core i3 with Hyper-Threading.
Traditionally, our first set of medium- to high-detail System Builder Marathon game benchmarks is tailored to the least-expensive machine. Today's little $400 setup survived those settings all the way through 1920x1080 at less than 80% of our normal budget. Our newest title, Ubisoft’s brutal Far Cry 3, proved the greatest challenge, though we can forgive its performance knowing that its High detail preset will push $500 machines through 2013.
Packing AMD's Tahiti GPU, this quarter's $650 PC is the big fish in a little pond, ripping through our most demanding game settings at 1920x1080, including Far Cry 3. This system is even able to handle 4800x900 using three screens. So, our main comparison is between the two lower-cost builds, where nearly identical CPUs are matched up to different graphics cards.
We knew this build would fall short of the best-looking graphics settings. Still, we’ll summarize performance at those settings for each game at 1280x720 and 1920x1080. Bear in mind that only the $650 PC remains playable in Far Cry 3.