As we draw comparisons between my most recent entry-level System Builder Marathon gaming PCs, we'll use the older machine as the baseline.
Tallying average frame rates throughout all resolutions emphasizes CPU performance. Yet, our new machine, armed with only a lowly 3.2 GHz dual-core Pentium, actually kicks performance up a notch in all four of our test games.
And it simply dominates once we overclock.
Cranking up the eye candy at 1920x1080 obviously shifts demands over towards the graphics hardware. Here, stepping up from a Radeon R7 265 to the R9 270 rewards us with better performance and/or higher playable settings, again, in all four games.
Our new PC is clearly better suited for 4800x900 gaming. Before we even considered overclocking, it had already surpassed last quarter’s tweaked machine in all four games. However, if you intend to game across three panels, consider budgeting for an even more potent graphics solution.
Although these machines were both built to play games, most value-oriented boxes need to be capable elsewhere, too. Our System Builder Marathons generally base value on overall system performance, so it’s reassuring to see that this quarter's config is a step up in other disciplines as well. In fact, overclocked to 4.1 GHz, it trades blows with and eventually bests our Q1 $750 PC, which included a pricier Core i3-4130 fixed at 3.4 GHz. Let's not fool ourselves though; this dual-core processor is still bound to appear slow compared to whatever Don and Thomas put together over the next two days.