System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

Both of these systems are powered by Antec EarthWatts units with 80 PLUS Bronze efficiency certifications, and we test them with power-saving features enabled.

However, for overclocking purposes, Cool'n'Quiet was disabled on the current PC.

While disabling Cool'n'Quiet certainly increased idle power consumption, undervolting this quarter's PC allowed for a 600 MHz core increase with only a 2 W jump in power use under full Prime95 load. Raising the GPU core and memory clocks, on the other hand, came at the expense of 18 W running 3DMark 11.

The next page will show whether the overall performance gains from overclocking the Phenom II outweigh the additional energy usage. One thing is quite obvious, though. Given such miserly power use, the Sandy Bridge-based Core i3 is going to demolish our current rig's efficiency.

That extra 15 W used at idle amounts to a three-degree core temperature increase, despite bumping the CPU fan’s minimum rotational speed from 60% to 70%. Otherwise the two systems' temperatures are fairly similar to one another.

  • alchemy69
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
  • Outlander_04
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
  • slicedtoad
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
  • Zero_
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
  • zooted
    This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
  • mayankleoboy1
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
  • bobfrys
    This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
  • lunyone
    This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!