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System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $600 Gaming PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

As a general rule, we enable power-saving features on our System Builder Marathon rigs. We also tend not to override automatic fan controls for stock-configuration testing.

The result is that we give up cooling performance and tolerate higher temperatures in the interest of a quieter system.

For some reason that we still cannot explain, last quarter's graphics card chewed up an extra 20 W sitting idle on the Windows desktop. Perhaps there was an issue with AMD's early Windows 8 driver? Idle consumption should have been down around 50 W, as it is this time around.

Fully loaded, these gaming-oriented rigs still sip power relative to what we'll likely see during the rest of this quarter's System Builder Marathon. Even if we estimate 85% efficiency, our 400 W power supply is only being asked to output 184 W at peak load.

Although we've never been particularly impressed by the performance of Intel's boxed heat sinks, they do facilitate quiet operation and adequate cooling. 

Thermals aren't much of a worry on either rig. But the important take-away is that last month's graphics card from PowerColor enjoyed more effective cooling. Our custom fan profile never exceeded 50% duty cycle. In order to keep this quarter's board from breaking 65 degrees, HIS' smaller fan spun up as high as 90% on occasion.

Neither card was noisy at stock settings. However, acoustics were less attractive using our overclocked frequencies in demanding 3D games.

  • Proximon
    Sounds about right. Not quite the sweet spot for a budget rig, but then we don't get too many requests for $600 firm. A higher clocked i3 would have been the way to go.
    Reply
  • esrever
    I think you can fit the 7870 LE in there if you choose a cheaper mobo and went with an i3 or an AMD build.
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    As usual, love the system builder article.

    This $600 build seems nice. Personally, I would drop the optical drive, replace the Z75 board with a cheaper H77 motherboard, get a cheap 8GB (2x4GB) memory kit and a 2GB version of the Radeon HD7850. I think it's possible that it'll be between $600-610.

    That's just what I would change. This build is still nice to be honest. :)
    Reply
  • itzsnypah
    Why isn't noise a benchmark? Every build you showcase you ignore acoustics. A very noisy build should affect it's overall performance negatively, while a quiet one should affect it positively. Noise is a very important factor in Case Reviews so why isn't it a factor here?
    Reply
  • ARICH5
    noise isnt a factor in a gaming rig...thats for htcp stuff
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    10450191 said:
    Sounds about right. Not quite the sweet spot for a budget rig, but then we don't get too many requests for $600 firm. A higher clocked i3 would have been the way to go.

    That 3350P is a pretty nice CPU though. It performs at near FX-8320 levels while consuming 1/2 the power. I'd definitely use it in a low budget rig over anything else.
    Reply
  • ARICH5
    i question the longevity of a 400w psu in a build like this though
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    The CPU budget is higher than the GPU budget for this gaming machine? I understand the desire for a 4 core processor but you could definitely have a better gaming rig by investing more in the GPU and trimming the CPU budget.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    arich5i question the longevity of a 400w psu in a build like this though~54%(216W) capacity when under CPU + GPU load. There shouldn't be any concern with the PSU failing under these loads.
    Reply
  • lunyone
    It would have been interesting with a 7870 GPU, like below:

    / /

    CPU: ($123.79 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ($76.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: ($29.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: ($209.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: ($25.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: ($29.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $564.71
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-26 02:52 EST-0500)
    But the 3350P makes things interesting when an app can benefit from more cores! I had to get a better PSU to fit the 7870 into the budget. There is also $50 in MIR's equated into the final price, so the actual price paid would be $614 out the door. I'm not sure the i3 would have been a better overall CPU, but it would have made things interesting in the gaming department :)
    Reply