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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: System Value Compared

Power And Efficiency

We knew that AMD’s new graphics cards were far more efficient than the previous generation, but were still surprised to find the $1,300 build, complete with Core i5, with the lowest power consumption. Its ability to overclock using lower-than-stock voltage gave its overclocked configuration an equally impressive second-place finish in power savings.

We need to calculate average performance in order to find efficiency. The overclocked $2,500 PC takes a big lead here, though the overclocked $1,300 system beats its stock-speed performance.

Using the $700 PC as a baseline, we divided relative performance by relative power consumption and found the $1,300 build supreme once again.

High clock speed and relatively low voltage allow both the $1,300 and $700 systems to gain efficiency from overclocking, while the difficult-to-overclock processor in the $2,500 build exhibits the expected efficiency loss.

  • DarkMantle
    Great conclusion Thomas, good System Building Marathon overall. My only wish is to see something with an AMD processor next time, specially on the market segment where they shine.
    Reply
  • shubham1401
    I am really impressed by the performance of $1300 PC.

    It came so close to the $2500 PC without breaking the bank.
    Simply awesome!!
    Reply
  • noob2222
    typo on the last page, overclocked $650, not sure if that was the value used in the chart, might check that also.
    Reply
  • ibnsina
    Good conclusions..

    This article can get more interesting if you add previous systems data to the charts.
    Reply
  • erdinger
    Yes the previous systems would have been really nice to compare, espacially in the conclusion.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    ibnsinaGood conclusions..This article can get more interesting if you add previous systems data to the charts.
    Sorry, but that wouldn't be fair. First of all, September's systems used different benchmarks, settings, and OS. Second, September's systems used both AMD graphics that pre-date these, plus AMD processors, and people would have used the older graphics as an excuse to beat up on the CPU. AMD fans would have gone nuts as well, claiming the authors were trying to use the superior graphics of this SBM to skew readers against AMD. Tom's isn't interested in publishing invalid results or creating fake controversy.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    psycho sykesA question..Does those come with Windows 7 installed? Or they won't be real 700-1300-2500 machines.. Right?!
    Windows 7 was only installed for the benchmark analysis. For anyone who would like to copy one of the builds and still stay on budget, Ubuntu is suggested.
    Reply
  • kick_pixels
    Crashman First of all, September's systems used different benchmarks. AMD fans would have gone nuts as well
    If you compare the benchmarks, is more or less identical with 1-2 minor differences. What’s wrong with idea of comparing different configurations? I don’t agree with the thought of AMD fans getting upset about it, to contrary they will be happy about gaining new knowledge.
    Reply
  • Onus
    First of all, Merry Christmas everyone!
    Second of all, congratulations to Don. His tweaking contributed heavily to the superiority of the $1300 machine. The $700 machine pulled up lame when not gaming, and the $2500 machine was crippled by inadequate cooling.
    If I win the big guy, I'll put it in my CM-RC690 and see how it does. The little guy will get my Q9450, but Don's build just needs a better cooler.
    Nice series.
    Reply
  • Niva
    Merry xmas to the staff and thanks for writing these articles at an otherwise slow time of the year due to holidays. I've enjoyed reading them.
    Reply