System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: Gaming PC

Test Results


We're not expecting to see much of an improvement from the extra 200MHz CPU clock in the CPU-based benchmarks, however we should see a nice improvement in the graphics benchmarks thanks to the new R9 380 GPU.

As expected, we see a modest bump in CPU performance, and an even more pronounced increase from the GPU. Interestingly enough, we actually manage to come close to the $1,600 gaming PC in the PCMark 8 Work and Home benchmarks and even manage to exceed that PC in the Storage benchmark. However, since the storage benchmark is well within the three percent margin of error, I can’t exactly call it a victory. In the rest of the synthetics, the results return to more of what we would expect.

In any case, my build either meets or exceeds the Q1 2015 computer in all of the synthetic benchmarks.


It's a bit trickier to compare the gaming benchmarks with each other because the other two builds each lack a different video resolution from their test results. Still, it shouldn't be all that hard to see the effects of the new hardware.

Overall, we see only a mediocre improvement in frame rates compared to the Q1 build. In most cases, the extra frames aren't going to make much of a difference, especially at low settings. At the very least, the extra graphics power does get us back up to playable framerates at the wider resolutions, like 4800x900 and 5760x1080. As expected, there's a very clear difference between this quarter's build and last quarter's $1,600 build.


Shorter times are better in all of our applications tested below. All of the single-threaded applications benefit from the modest increase in clock speed on our new Core i3. The multi-threaded applications also enjoy the benefits of the higher clock speed, though to a lesser extent because the number of cores and threads remains the same.

Again, we see this quarter's build perform slightly better than the Q1 2015 build thanks to the better hardware, but it falls short of the $1,600 gaming build. Interestingly enough, the 3ds Max benchmark sees a significant increase in performance due to the effects of the new R9 380 graphics card.

Power & Heat

Idle power consumption on this quarter's build sees a bit of improvement thanks to the power-saving features built into the R9 380 GPU. Oddly enough, although this build uses less power than the Q1 build in the individual load tests, it uses more power in the combined tests. With the 500W power supply, this system should have more than enough power for an additional graphics card in the future.

The upgraded CPU cooler helps to keep the temperatures lower during the CPU load tests, but overall, the two budget systems are mostly the same. For reference, the ambient temperature for my tests was maintained at 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • envy14tpe
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice. Also, a 380 will max out most games at 1080p. Great choices and to hell with the whiners.
  • RedJaron
    While many H81, 87, 97, and B85 boards support unofficial overclocking, they're primarily limited to just CPU multiplier and voltage. Only Z boards let you fiddle with the BCLK to take the locked i3 any higher. The ASRock Z97M Pro4 might have been an alternative if you put the TX3 money toward it. However, you are right that a few hundred MHz more don't make a big difference in most daily computing.

    Also, your particular board may "technically" support CFX, but that bottom slot is only PCIe 2.0 x4 and will severely handicap any second GPU you add.

    But still a good, efficient build nonetheless. Your build will definitely cream mine in the productivity benchmarks come Wednesday.
  • Bossyfins
    The main reason the EVGA 500w get a lot of hate by users, including me, is because XFX makes a higher quality, made by seasonic to be exact, for about 10-15$ more. I would, and probably many others would choose to pay an extra mere 15$ than have a potential burn out of all components. Other than the PSU, solid part selections.
  • Tomtompiper
    Is it just me or is the System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: AMD Mini PC faster than this in most games? This would fit in with the "save on the processor and go big on the GPU philosophy. Also I believe it is time to throw in a multitasking benchmark, seldom do I encode or game an leave the machine running that one task, I'm gaming while streaming videos or encoding while surfing the web or streaming videos or both.
  • kinney
    This is good. I do love that i3 and 380 combo. Until AMD shows a rebound in their business though, I'd probably avoid them to reduce chances of ending up with unsupported product. A 970 would be ideal.
    A 380 or 970 is pretty much all most of us really need. The PC market is mature and has been for some time, spending on top end hardware doesn't make sense any longer. I'm waiting for KabyLake which should have enough graphics performance for my MOBA and other competitive gaming needs. Unless you're looking at buying into VR in which case a PS4+Morpheus needs to be considered.
  • Marko Ravnjak
    Do we still need a dvd in each box? :)
  • M515k4
    This is the way I build gaming PCs for friends. Agreed with HDD vs SDD part. I would only use some smaller case.
  • ykki
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice.

    Though in the AMD build you can get a cpu cooler later down the road and OC the 860k.
  • filippi
    16696672 said:
    For gaming and for $800, this is an excellent build. As we saw in the AMD build, the 860k can limit in some games, and going i3 is a pure solid choice.

    Though in the AMD build you can get a cpu cooler later down the road and OC the 860k.

    This for me is the Intel main advantage: FM2 upgrade path is a 3rd party cpu cooler + overclock.
    Haswell upgrade path is an i5/i7/xeon.
  • Math Geek
    i would love to see the amd build from yesterday overclocked just for the academics of it. give it away as is but since you don't normally have such a system in the comparisons, why not cool it right and oc it just to see how it does with the 970.

    again just for the academics of it more than anything. just curious how it would hold up to this i3 build.

    but overall nice build, i even don't mind the evga psu. it's not as bad as folks want it ot be. it has reviewed very well and is solid for it's proper uses. though i am not so sure about it being capable of a second 380. i'd go with a bit better psu for that.