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System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $350 Bonus Entry-Level PC

Power Consumption And Temperatures

Power Consumption

For this test, we enable power-saving features on each system using the stock and overclocked settings. Bear in mind that we're reporting total draw from the wall, not power supply output. Even though it wasn’t loaded down, we'd expect this quarter’s Antec VP-450 to be more efficient than the tiny 150 W unit bundled with last quarter's ISK300 mini-ITX enclosure.

The $350 PC draws less than 30 W from the wall while idling on the desktop. However, once we load the A10-5800K APU, its consumption peaks well above last quarter's Pentium-based PC. While 3DMark 11’s first game scene is used to isolate the graphics hardware as best as possible, it loads one CPU core as well. 

Temperatures

The $400 PC occupies less volume than an Xbox 360 console and its external power brick, yet efficient components and adequate airflow still kept it running plenty cool under load.

Unfortunately, temperature monitoring is pretty much broken on AMD’s Trinity-based APUs, which makes overclocking a little unnerving. Thermal readings are completely useless. According to some utilities, we were idling at zero degrees Celsius. Others said we were roasting at 97 degrees under load. So, we're reporting CPU socket temperatures for the $350 PC. Cooled by AMD's boxed cooler, the tweaked A10-5800K ran a little hotter than the Pentium and its dedicated Radeon HD 7750 graphics card, despite being housed in a roomier case with more airflow. Even still, the rig was fully stable during our testing.

My biggest concern was the VRMs around the CPU socket. I scoured the board relentlessly with an IR thermometer and found that MOSFET readings varied quite a bit. The top one ran the hottest, idling at a cool 30 degrees, hitting 65 degrees under load at stock settings, and peaking at 70 degrees with a mild overclock. Needless to say, I’d be nervous about trying to get any more from this setup.