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System Builder Marathon Q3 2015: Prosumer PC

Test Results

Synthetics

The $800 PC costs half as much as its $1600 predecessors, so I was hoping it would get half the graphics scores, yet it only produced 2/5 and 1/3 the 3DMark graphics scores of the general-purpose and gaming PCs, respectively. On the other hand, it produce 3/5 and 5/4’s the Physics scores of those same machines. And you thought there wouldn’t be any math.

The better news for the half-priced machine’s hard drive is that it produced slightly more than half the drive performance of its predecessors. It’s also nearly on par with the $1600 gaming machine in Sandra Arithmetic, falling only 45 percent behind the $1600 general-purpose PC that was designed to excel in CPU-bound metrics.

Gaming

The $800 build starts off strong at our most basic Arma 3 settings, but quickly falls off as resolutions and details are increased. By the time we got to Ultra quality, I felt lucky to see the machine play smoothly at 1080p. Fortunately, my colleague’s inability to run 4800x900 forced me to remove that result from all averages.

The $800 PC actually plays through all the games and settings at 1920x1080, which means that it really is a low-end gaming machine in addition to my goal of making it a low-end workstation. But how well does it fill that primary role?

Applications

Audio encoding is the most consumer-oriented of our timed benchmarks, and the $800 machine’s Skylake processor beats competitors there. It falls behind the $1600 general-purpose PC in prosumer video encoding, since it has fewer cores, as well as professional applications from Adobe Creative Suite to 3ds Max.

I haven’t quite worked out why the new $800 build was slower in Blender and 3ds max than the $1600 Gaming PC, but I have a feeling it might have something to do with its slow hard drive. It also took a huge performance hit in 7-Zip file compression.

Power & Heat

Remembering that the power consumption measurements for every system comes from the wall and includes efficiency losses within the power supply, the $800 machine’s power unit would need to be 90 percent efficient for its processing components to have consumed a maximum 200 watts. It’s less than 90 percent efficienct though, so the output requirement of its power supply was actually less than 200W. Pushing less than 50% percent its capacity, the 400W part could have easily been replaced with a 300W unit, if significant costs savings could have been found there. On the other hand, $40 is a great price for a high-quality ATX power supply of any capacity.

Those power savings pay off big in the $800 machine’s efficiency rating. As much as 41 percent slower than the previous work-oriented machine, it still produced up to 21 percent more work-per-watt.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Blueberries
    What is a prosumer and why is there no SSD?
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    You fit in a Skylake CPU? Bravo, sir!

    16700788 said:
    What is a prosumer
    A portmanteau combining "Professional" and "Consumer" usually describing the type of person that gets paid for a hobby. Someone who has requirements beyond that of the typical consumer, but not so high as a dedicated professional.

    16700788 said:
    and why is there no SSD?
    Read the whole article. It's explained there.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16700796 said:
    You fit in a Skylake CPU? Bravo, sir!

    16700788 said:
    What is a prosumer
    A portmanteau combining "Professional" and "Consumer" usually describing the type of person that gets paid for a hobby. Someone who has requirements beyond that of the typical consumer, but not so high as a dedicated professional.

    16700788 said:
    and why is there no SSD?
    Read the whole article. It's explained there.

    Wow, and you pulled out portmanteau? Bravo to you, sir! And to everyone in the stadium, welcome to the first onstage meeting of Tom's Hardware Mutual Admiration Society.
    Reply
  • chalabam
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Reply
  • Neat-O man
    There should be a bargain prosumer that hits all the check marks. I built a FX-8320e @4.5Ghz (very small voltage bump, max 54c after two hours of prime95) with a Cooler Master HYPER T4, 16GB ddr3 1866 cas 9, 850 EVO 250GB ssd, TWO Toshiba 2TB drives in soft RAID-1 (smart UPS is a must in that case), EVGA 430 watt PSU, 750 Ti (over clocks like a monster), and last... Cooler Master Silencio 352. $800 with tax (before OS). It is used for simple Photoshop and business things, honestly... over kill

    Yeah, even with AMD CPU lol... but holy carp was i surprised when i overclocked the FX-8320e compared to a FX-8320 i did three years ago when it came out. Runs super cool and stable for an AMD chip.
    Reply
  • Neat-O man
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.

    That's true.. ish. What if you have some specialized software that you can't find anymore and you only have the CD/DVD that you forgot to transfer to pure digital... than a $15 investment isn't such a bad idea. And a well stored CD/DVD that you did NOT make yourself (pressed in a factory) or M-Disc will outlast most HDD/SSD drives because of bit rot, unless you have a good ZFS setup and swap out the drives when necessary.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.
    Reply
  • daveys93
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.

    Windows 8.1 can be downloaded to a USB drive right from the Microsoft website:

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media

    If you obtained one of those "cheap Windows license" codes that was mentioned in the article for the lucky recipients of these machines and included it with Windows 8.1 on a cheap 4GB USB drive (if you are thrifty these can be obtained for $2 or less), you could forgo the antiquated optical drive, allowing this rounds builders to use the hardware and cases they really wanted. It would also free up some budget space since "cheap Windows license" codes are ~ $25 - $50.
    Reply
  • SCREAM2NIGHT
    16700962 said:
    Any money spend in a DVD burner is money wasted.

    You shouldn't buy a DVD burner until you actually need it.

    Most software is either downloadable, or stored on HD, or capable of being copied to a USB stick.
    Not for most people using this for their first build. The winner might even be in that position, as stated in the article.

    Please don't let those annoying facts get in the way of your eloquently-expressed opinion :)

    On the other hand, we'll probably make the switch to Win10 in Q1, so you don't have to tolerate this measure of practicality much longer.

    I use my DVD drive to play older games.
    Reply
  • ykki
    This is a really nice build. You stuck to a strong processor, din't go overkill on the gpu and got a "sufficient" psu.

    Also Tom's for q4 can we get a limited budget "no holds barred" where the contestants can do anything to anything to win. Threr sould be no constraints like what parts have to be compulsory (like this quarter's ODD). How 'bout it?
    Reply