Overclocking & Results
I applied a quick and clean CPU overclock by first setting my desired 1.30V core voltage and an optimistic 46x multiplier, and then backtracking to a 45x multiplier to find complete stability. I used the same method for DRAM, starting with 1.30V with the system not booting at DDR4-2800, then backing down to DDR4-2666.
I reconfirmed that DDR4-2800 wouldn’t work with this combination of hardware even at 1.35V, and then focused more effort on improved latency at DDR4-2666. I was eventually able to tighten primary timings to 14-14-14-28 and set command rate to 1T, and was even able to drop the memory voltage from 1.30 to 1.28V without decreasing its stability.
Noting that Eric was able to get his identical GTX 970 to 1400 MHz, I started at 1440 MHz and worked my way backwards. The graphics card initially appeared capable of the same 1400 MHz GPU clock, but a crash after about an hour of testing caused me to backtrack to 1390 MHz.
Graphics memory was far easier. Starting at GDDR5-7200 and working my way up, I eventually reached an 8000 MT/s data rate before a few small artifacts appeared after yet another hour of testing. I backed it down to GDDR5-7880.
|Test Hardware Configurations|
|Q4 $1055 Prosumer PC||Q3 $800 Prosumer PC||Q2 $1600 Performance PC|
|Processor (Overclock)||Intel Core i5-6600K: 3.50 GHz - 3.90 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.5GHz, 1.30V||Intel Core i5-6600K: 3.50 GHz - 3.90 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.4GHz, 1.30V||Intel Core i7-5820K: 3.30 GHz - 3.60 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.0-4.3GHz, 1.22V|
|Graphics (Overclock)||Asus GTX 970: <1228MHz GPU, GDDR5-7010 O/C to <1390MHz, GDDR5-7880||Asus GTX 750 Ti: <1150 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5400 O/C to <1300 MHz, GDDR5-6000||PNY GTX 970: <1178 MHz GPU, GDDR5-7012 O/C to <1328 MHz, GDDR5-7412|
|Memory (Overclock)||16GB PNY DDR4-2400 CAS 15-15-15-35, O/C to DDR4-2666 CL 14-14-14-28, 1.24V||8GB Crucial DDR4-2133 CAS 15-15-15-38, O/C to DDR4-2133 CL 14-14-14-28, 1.24V||16GB G.Skill DDR4-2666 CAS 15-15-15-35, O/C to DDR4-3200 CL 16-18-18-36, 1.30V|
|Motherboard (Overclock)||Gigabyte Z170M-DH3: LGA 1151, Intel Z170 Stock 100 MHz BCLK||Gigabyte Z170-HD3: LGA 1151, Intel Z170 Stock 100 MHz BCLK||MSI X99 SLI Plus: LGA 2011-v3, Intel X99 Stock 100 MHz BCLK|
|Case||DIYPC MA01-G||DIYPC FM08-Blue||ZALMAN Z11 Neo|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper T4||Cooler Master Hyper T4||Cooler Master Hyper 612 Ver.2|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 850 Evo 250GB SATA 6Gb/s M.2 SSD||WD WD10EZEX SATA 6Gb/s 7200 RPM HDD||Samsung 850 Evo 250GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD|
|Power||SeaSonic SS-400ET: 400W, 80 PLUS Bronze||SeaSonic SS-400ET: 400W, 80 PLUS Bronze||SeaSonic SSR-650RM: 650W, 80 PLUS Gold|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64||Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64||Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 359.06||Nvidia GeForce 355.60||Nvidia GeForce 352.86|
|Chipset||Intel INF 10.1.1||Intel INF 10.1.1||Intel INF 188.8.131.529|
This quarter’s $1055 Prosumer PC goes up against the $800 machine it replaces, as well as the $1600 general-purpose build that went before.
|Battlefield 4||Version 184.108.40.206, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO|
|Grid 2||Version 220.127.116.1179, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA|
|Arma 3||Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF|
|Far Cry 3||V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO|
|Adobe Creative Suite|
|Adobe After Effects CC||Version 18.104.22.1684: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly|
|Adobe Photoshop CC||Version 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates|
|Adobe Premeire Pro CC||Version 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality|
|iTunes||Version 22.214.171.124 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format|
|Lame MP3||Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)|
|Handbrake CLI||Version: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48000 Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)|
|TotalCodeStudio 2.5||Version: 126.96.36.19977: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV|
|ABBYY FineReader||Version 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages|
|Adobe Acrobat 11||Version 188.8.131.529: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2013||Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Blender||Version: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1|
|WinZip||Version 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"|
|WinRAR||Version 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"|
|7-Zip||Version 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"|
|Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings|
|3DMark Professional||Version: 184.108.40.206 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark|
|PCMark 8||Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks|
3DMark highlights the huge difference in capability between this quarter’s GTX 970 and last quarter’s GTX 750 Ti. The $1600 PC of two quarters ago also benefited from both a six-core CPU and a GTX 970, though the newer machine’s Asus card overclocked better than its predecessor’s PNY.
The $1055 build’s SSD holds it prominently over the $800 machine in PCMark, while its superior memory boosts it throughout Sandra Cryptography and Memory Bandwidth.
The previous $800 workhorse finds itself drowning in its own blood through game tests, where only the similarly-equipped $1600 machine can gain any advantage over the new $1055 PC.
An oddity at Battlefield 4’s medium test settings occurs as the overclocked configuration falls behind its baseline. Thought it appears to be card throttling, the same phenomena isn’t seen at Ultra quality. A little additional testing showed the card throttling to maintain a temperature of 80° in spite of its 90° setting.
Leaning on the same CPU as its $800 predecessor, the $1055 machine barely outpaces it in audio and video encoding. The competition gets more interesting in Adobe Creative Suite, as After Effects leans on the new machine’s extra RAM and Photoshop’s OpenCL filters benefit from its greater GPU prowess.
That 7-Zip thing? Why yes, I am glad that the new machine has an SSD, just as I was happy with the $1600 machine’s more powerful CPU.
Power, Heat & Efficiency
That big number readers seem to be concerned about, 320W, is the maximum load from the wall with both the CPU and GPU fully stressed. At the $1055 machine’s power supply efficiency rating, that’s around 270W output. And yes, power supplies are rated in output.
Performance levels across the board are up for the $1055 PC, resulting in a 3% baseline-to-baseline efficiency gain over the $800 PC it replaces. With its better overclocks producing even greater performance increases, efficiency lost to overclocking is also greatly improved.
One chart shows why I put the vented left side panel on the right side of the machine. Decibel levels in the mid-20’s idle and mid-30’s fully loaded are easy for most users to live with.
Remember that I said chasing value was the only justification each builder would have for increasing his expenses? Here is where I put up or, as it applies to our Day 4 comparison, shut up.
If someone told you that spending an extra 32% on your PC would give you a 47% performance boost, you’d probably wonder what “new math” had done to them. Yet the results are clear, as is the reason for a 12% value (i.e. performance for the money) win. Better overclocking pushes the new machine to an even larger 16% value lead over the previous O/C.
Anyone who prefers to save money by using an existing OS license will see a slightly lower value boost, but the new machine still wins.
Non-platform component costs, including those of the case and additional drives, were ultra low for the new build at $20 total. The $800 machine’s $44 drop allows it to creep closer to the new build's value, yet the new build still wins.
Things look even better for the $1055 machine at high gaming resolutions, but even the $1600 PC was able to beat the $800 build in this comparison. Considering that the new Prosumer PC is designed to do work first and game second, its great gaming results are a pleasant bonus.
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