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System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Performance Summary

Let’s wrap up how well our most recent pair of budget Gaming PCs measure up to one another. As is typical in this series, we’ll use the older machine as a baseline.

Tallying average frame rates throughout all resolutions leans heavily on the Pentium G3258 processor, and our GPU upgrade to R9 270X nets just a few percentage points. And it was no surprise to see the two machines so close once overclocked also, as less aggressive overclocking with EIST enabled capped frame rates at lower resolutions, albeit if only by meaningless amounts.

Cranking up the eye candy at 1920x1080 obviously shifts demands over towards the Radeon graphics pairings, favoring our new machine’s GPU speed bump. As built, it even appears to outpace last quarter’s overclocked efforts. However that’s deceiving, as these demanding settings often required the Pentium to be overclocked. Once tuned, the new machine truly shined, winning the numbers race in all four titles. The real world benefits were a bit more subtle, as we really couldn’t say an additional three to five FPS was felt in-game. Mainly it will come into play within GPU heavy titles by allowing us to enable or slightly bump up the levels of anti-aliasing. It’s still an improvement, nonetheless.

Our new PC was clearly the winner for triple-panel Eyefinity gaming, although its R9 270X graphics card still required settings tuned down in three of the four titles. And unless you are pinching every penny, we’d imagine the added expense of even beefier graphics, as well as a trio of displays, totally warrants a more potent processor also.

Our new PC took a 100MHz hit in overclocking and suffered slightly reduced memory bandwidth. These machines are so similar, it’s doubtful any difference could be felt apart from a few extra seconds spent compressing large folders. These two builds could double as fine office PCs, but they are not meant to be workhorses. Any dual-threaded processor is bound to feel downright slow when tackling lengthy, heavily threaded, workloads.