Skip to main content

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

Results: Synthetics

As mentioned, we’ll be comparing today’s bonus machine to the one from last quarter: a $400 Spirit of Mini-ITX PC tuned specifically to play games. Sporting a dual-core Pentium G860 and Radeon HD 7750 graphics, it’s pretty much what I consider the bare minimum for any serious gamer. The Sandy Bridge-based Pentium was fixed at 3.0 GHz, but we were able to squeeze a decent overclock from the Radeon HD 7750 and reduce the system’s memory timings.

For the current build, we relied on MSI OC Genie II’s auto overclock throughout the test suite, but ran additional configurations for graphical loads.

3DMark 11 details how different these systems are. Our current’s build’s APU has far lower graphics prowess (reflected in the majority of the scores), while its four processing cores are more adept at handling calculations in the Physics module.

Looking specifically at our new APU-powered system, only the OC Genie II settings boost the CPU frequency. Therefore, that configuration achieves the highest Physics score. But we were able to match its Graphics and Overall scores just by running DDR3-1866. And the configuration up top, which adds 950 MHz GPU clocks, raises those scores higher still, demonstrating the most potential in games.

Stock and mildly overclocked, the current machine dominates PCMark 7. We credit most of this to the A10-5800K APU. The storage victory is simply attributable to the prior rig employing a slow 2.5” drive spinning at 5400 RPM.

Multi-threaded Sandra 2013 points to a huge improvement in floating-point arithmetic this quarter. We also observe the effects of Trinity's AES-NI support.

Trinity can't match a Piledriver-based FX CPU (such as the $650 PC’s FX-6300) in memory bandwidth, or a Sandy Bridge-based Pentium for that matter. The $350 PC utilizes CAS 9 DDR3-1600, which OC Genie II overclocks to 1680 MT/s. Meanwhile, the Pentium-based system employs DDR3-1333 at stock CL9 timings that we tuned to CL7.