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System Builder Marathon, June 2011: $2000 Performance PC

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

Our previous build consumed slightly less energy, though this can be affected by small things like GPU temperature.

The new machine’s graphics cards ran a little warmer at stock speed, even though they’re the same card model. We’re going to blame Lian-Li’s sideways hard drive cage for the difference, since it partially blocks airflow from the lower intake fan to the cards, and note that the cards ran cool enough anyway.

Even at full overclock, we never GPU fan speeds above 50%.

While a higher overclock benefited the previous build in CPU-limited applications, newer drivers appeared to help the current build lead at high settings in a few games. The end result is nearly-identical overall gaming performance, in spite of the former build’s small leads in A/V encoding and productivity.

Slightly higher graphics power consumption and slightly lower overall performance lead our current build to its fall in average efficiency. The overclocked configuration still beats the base frequencies however, since performance increased at a greater rate than power consumption.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.