Power, Heat, Efficiency And Value
With all of the equipment inside the DIYPC case, Big Build drew quite a bit of power just sitting idle. But once the GPU and CPU received a load, draw from the wall increased 5x. Thomas' experience in this series is apparent when you look at his results from Q4 2014 and Q1 2015, where power consumption went up by 10x under load compared to the idle measurements.
Even though I was looking forward to the power and thermal tests (mostly because they were the last ones I had to run), I spent quite a while trying to mitigate the system crashing whenever I started running Prime95. As explained earlier, I ultimately ended up dropping the CPU to 4.2GHZ and adjusting the GPU to lower settings as well. Other than the temperature and power tests, all of this build's other benchmarks were run with the CPU at 4.4GHz.
Also a note about the results in the Temperatures Above Ambient graph. The fans on the GPU were set to manual and configured to go to 100% during the overclock testing. Also, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 I used got an unobstructed flow of air from the front of the case because of the hard drive cages I removed.
By going with a Core i5, I discovered that it's possible to build a great gaming rig for $1600, though overclocking it (at least in this case) is a must. In its baseline configuration, Big Build isn’t going to win any awards. However, it does hammer home the point that finding time and patience for tuning can yield a rewarding performance increase. I would have had to go over-budget by $100 or $150 to score a higher-end Core i7 CPU.
Looking at the Overall Performance chart, the task that I was originally assigned – building a gaming PC – seems to have been accomplished, even if my take on the system needs to be overclocked for an optimal experience. Our Tom's Hardware technical career guidance counselors deem the overclocked Big Build to be a decent graphics workstation, too. Interestingly enough, we also see the SanDisk Pro SSD thrusted into the spotlight as its storage performance misses the 100% target by just 1%. So, if you’re a gamer or a creative content producer, a machine like Big Build may just fit in with your career plans if you don’t mind a little overclocking.