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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.