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System Builder Marathon, June 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Benchmark Results: Audio And Video

Dumping the bulk of our funding into graphics is sure to spell disaster throughout the media encoding and productivity benchmarks. But it's time to face the music.

This quarter's system contains a dual-core Sandy Bridge-based chip locked at 2.4 GHz, while the former build enjoys a pair of 3.3 GHz Hyper-Threaded cores, an additional 1 MB of L3 cache, and a less restrictive dual-channel memory controller.

iTunes and Lame showcases the per-clock performance of a processing core. Because both of these chips center on Intel's Sandy Bridge design, we're not surprised to see the Celeron deliver 73-74% of the Core i3's performance at 72.7% of the frequency, and at only 40% of its cost. Although the results don't look particularly impressive, this low-budget chip could totally embarrass other architectures in these two specific single-threaded tests.

HandBrake and MainConcept, on the other hands, are well-threaded, rewarding the deployment of additional physical processing cores. Neither of these machines would compete agressively against quad-core Core i5 or i7 systems. 

In both tests, this quarter's $500 build delivers only 59% of last quarter's performance, meaning March’s system is seeing substantial benefit from higher clocks, two additional logical cores, more L3 cache, and greater memory bandwidth.