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System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

Our previous build has three big advantages when it comes to power consumption: first, its 22 nm Ivy Bridge-based CPU; second, its quad-core design is less complex than our Sandy Bridge-E-based solution; and third, an 80 PLUS Gold-rated power supply is more efficient than today's Silver-rated alternative.

On the other hand, our newer system should save a little bit of power by virtue of its GeForce GTX 670 graphics card, which doesn't consume as much as the GeForce GTX 680.

The difference in CPU load power is stark, especially when our new machine is overclocked. We had hoped that its 850 W power supply would be sufficient for three-way SLI arrays, but that option would only be completely safe at a more conservative overclock.

Our attempts to get more air across our CPU heat sink in the NZXT Phantom 410 (without spending money on additional fans) were not able to overcome the chip's higher thermal output or the cooler's lower performance. As a result, its temperatures are barely within the bounds of what we'd call acceptable.

This quarter's build outperforms last quarter's, even in the average of game tests (a result of the lower resolutions used for comparison against the other two builders' machines). Don't worry, though. We’ll discuss our results at 2560x1600 in the conclusion.

Each of our application suites (games, encoding, productivity) make up 30% of our average performance number, while real-world-based synthetic storage tests make up the other 10%. The better performance of today's build, unfortunately, is not enough to offset its higher power consumption, and its comparative efficiency is down by up to 28%!

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Darkerson
    Interesting setup. I would have favored a way beefier single GPU or a nice dual GPU setup, but I mainly only game, and dont do a lot of encoding or whatnot.
  • The contest opens on August 20, 2012 9:00 PM PDT and closes on September 3, 2012 9:00 PM PDT.
    So... i notice now that it opens at August 20, not August 19 when the $500 SBM appeared. I submitted my entry at August 19 10:30 PM. So that means that i haven't entered into the sweepstakes, or did i? I am confused, cause only one entry can be accepted.
  • Nice quality build! Enough said!
  • trumpeter1994
    That has got to be one of the luckiest GTX 670s I've ever seen.
  • sarinaide
    Gigabyte G1 Assassin Z77
    120GB SSD
    500GB HDD
    2xGTX 670
    2x4GB DDR3 1866

    And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.
  • Crashman
    sarinaidei5-3570k/i7-3770kGigabyte G1 Assassin Z77120GB SSD500GB HDD2xGTX 6702x4GB DDR3 1866And still probably cheaper with obviously better performance.Probably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
  • zander1983
    Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60
  • Crashman
    zander1983Ditch the BR Writer, get a BR combo drive and save yourself $60Sorry, I don't see any combo drives for $30 so the savings would be much less than $60. Plus, you'd lose BD-RE backup capability, which can be handy.
  • sarinaide
    CrashmanProbably not, unless you're only testing games. But we should probably test that anyway. Does anyone else want to see it?
    It would be very interesting, the IvyBridge chips in productivity numbers hold quite well with the SB-E chips that is the only area which should be a contest.
  • crisan_tiberiu
    16GB ram pointless imo. 2 TB 5400rpm hdd? ...i rather get a 1 TB 7200 rpm hdd. i7 3970k ... i rather get the i7 3770k. From theese i would squeeze in a gtx 680.