Skip to main content

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: System Value Compared

Power And Efficiency

Lower clock speeds and transistor counts typically allow lower-cost components to draw less energy.

Yet, the least-expensive system also had the lowest performance, and efficiency hangs in the balance.

The $550 machine’s power consumption is completely acceptable by gaming PC standards, even when overclocked. The $2,000 PC, on the other hand, draws nearly as much power as a small microwave, but only when overclocked and placed under an extraordinarily high load level.

The performance chart almost inverts the power consumption chart, with the overclocked $2,000 system pushing nearly three times the average performance of our $550 baseline.

Dividing average performance by average power reveals average efficiency. The cheapest system often has the highest efficiency, but this month it barely managed to edge out its competitors. Overclocking improved the efficiency of all three systems in this month’s System Builder Marathon, because the performance of each system increased by a larger amount than its power consumption.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • manitoublack
    Another great SBM. Goodluck to US Punters who get the chance to win theses systems. Look forward to the next round where Graphics hardware will take a step out of the lime light.
    Reply
  • wildeast
    marry me tom's :D
    Reply
  • touchdowntexas13
    It's interesting to see the performance/dollar shoot up for the $2000 pc when it comes to games. That just goes to show you how much of the budget went into graphics muscle. These machines were definitely built with gaming in mind.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    touchdowntexas13It's interesting to see the performance/dollar shoot up for the $2000 pc when it comes to games. That just goes to show you how much of the budget went into graphics muscle. These machines were definitely built with gaming in mind.Yes, the only way to smash those benchmarks is with a faster CPU (2/3 of tests) or graphics (1/3 of tests). The problem with upgrading the CPU is that the 980X would cost 50% of the total budget. We haven't seen a big improvement in overclocking by using a higher-model quad-core i7
    Reply
  • touchdowntexas13
    CrashmanYes, the only way to smash those benchmarks is with a faster CPU (2/3 of tests) or graphics (1/3 of tests). The problem with upgrading the CPU is that the 980X would cost 50% of the total budget. We haven't seen a big improvement in overclocking by using a higher-model quad-core i7
    Oh no I wasn't suggesting at all that you should have gone with a 980X for the $2000 build. That's way too expensive for a $2000 limit. The 930 does it's job just fine.

    It just amazed me that two 470's in SLI were able to best the performance/dollar of the cheaper builds. Typically you see diminishing gains as you get into the more expensive components.

    It was a very interesting set of articles any way you look at it. Gamers on a budget should especially be interested in this SBM.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    touchdowntexas13It just amazed me that two 470's in SLI were able to best the performance/dollar of the cheaper builds. Typically you see diminishing gains as you get into the more expensive components.I was pretty amazed too, but I really want to give credit to $1000 PC builder Don for making the GTX 470 SLI suggestion for the $2000 machine. Spot on Don!
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Overall this month's SBM was good, especially the scalability of the 470s was brought into prominence.Though overclocking those in SLI is certainly not a viable option, unless one steals power from the Hoover Dam.
    Reply
  • Willroo
    Did anyone notice that the 858w microwave has a power supply rated for 750w.....sizzle.....pop.....anyone smell smoke...? Running f@h on that machine the power company would have to burn a ton of coal a day and you'd get threat mail from them when you cause a brown out. Ah....But all those PPD.
    Reply
  • Onus
    Interesting. Based on a previous article, an Athlon II X2 440 wouldn't be enough to let the 470s in SLI stretch out; I wonder what the minimum CPU there would be.
    AND, since many of us found problems in these builds, if those were "fixed" (possibly costing more), those results would be useful too.
    Lots of good information in this SBM round. Very nice.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    WillrooDid anyone notice that the 858w microwave has a power supply rated for 750w.....sizzle.....pop.....anyone smell smoke...? Running f@h on that machine the power company would have to burn a ton of coal a day and you'd get threat mail from them when you cause a brown out. Ah....But all those PPD.Silverstone says it outputs 77 to 80% of what you input. That's 670W of power output at 858W power input. It's rated at 750W continuous power output, but don't let the facts get in the way of a rant, eh?
    Reply