Power, Temperature And Conclusion
Both of the platforms tested for this article employ an 88W host processor. The GeForce GTX 770 peaks in the 195W range though, while Nvidia's newer GeForce GTX 970 has a lower 145W TDP. The numbers suggest we should see a ~50W difference between the two machines under a pure graphics load. But, in practice, it's actually more than 70W.
Aside from that comparison, these platforms demonstrate similar power usage, which speaks to the new build's efficiency (since it performs far better in most tasks).
When it comes to thermal measurements, the GPU-derived results aren't particularly surprising since our GeForce GTX 970 sports less cooling area compared to the larger 770.
The difference under a host processing load is quite large, but keep in mind that the previous build benefited from one of the best air coolers available. In addition, Hyper-Threading facilitates greater resource utilization, causing the Core i7 to get hotter in our Prime95 burn test. Really, Zalman's CNPS9900 MAX is performing admirably.
I built last quarter's System Builder Marathon machine before the GeForce GTX 970 was available for sale, and it was the obvious choice for today's configuration. As for my processor choice, the Core i7 offers some solid advantages over the cheaper Core i5. Combined, we already know that today's performance story is going to be compelling. Let's take a look at the breakdown:
Today's build naturally trounces the Core i5/GeForce GTX 770 combo from last year. Considering the similar price point, our value comparison should similarly favor this most recent effort.
If we focus on triple-monitor gaming at 5760x1080, the Q1 2015 build appears even more impressive. The Core i7 processor's influence is muted; these results are all about Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970.
Finally, let's have a look at efficiency. Specifically, pay attention to the red bar on the left. Smaller is better. Clearly, this quarter's stock setup takes the blue ribbon.
It's nice to finally feature an overclocked GeForce GTX 970 in a successful SBM machine. It's no surprise that PC pricing gets better over time, but this build really stands out to me. The functional enclosure, the 240GB SSD, the Core i7 CPU and GeForce GTX 970 graphics card come together in an exceptional system with no obvious weak spots. It's a beautiful, balanced machine, and I look forward to seeing how it compares to Thomas' high-end build in the days to come.