Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim And StarCraft II

The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim

Although we've seen that it's clearly CPU-limited, our current gaming system breezes through Skyrim’s High detail preset settings, never dropping below 47 FPS in its stock form.

At Ultra details, with 8x MSAA applied, the overclocked $500 PC offers about the same experience at 1920x1080 as the stock $650 PC did, trailing by just 1 FPS in both average and minimum frame rates.

However, our Skyrim testing didn’t end with just one quick run through the town of Riverwood. Even under pursuit by guards in the most demanding locations of Markarth, our frame rates never dipped below 30. I don’t doubt that some user-created Skyrim mod can overburden the processing limits of our Celeron chip. But I was truly impressed by this cheap CPU's ability to handle anything Skyrim could dish out.

StarCraft II

This 60-second Fraps run starts out very demanding, but then it eases up as enemies are eliminated from the map. We’ll stay consistent by running the same four resolutions, though the lower ones don't do StarCraft II any justice.

As we noticed last quarter, there's a drop in performance as the aspect ratio gets wider, indicating a CPU limitation.

Fixed CPU multiplier ratios stymie our overclocking efforts, and we're unable to address the processor bottlenecks that appear through our highest test settings.

Minimum frame rates as low as 46 assure us of a solid StarCraft II experience on our stock $500 PC. But, for more epic battles, I’d rather be using a machine armed with a more powerful processor.