System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $2,000 Performance PC

Benchmark Results: Skyrim And StarCraft II

This quarter's build appears processor-limited in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though what we saw in DiRT 3 means that we can't rule out memory bandwidth just yet. Whatever the cause of the tighter grouping, it doesn't seem to be affecting last quarter's GeForce GTX 670-based build as much.

The fact that last quarter's config appears to game better is a little misleading, though, since frame rates this high simply aren't useful, particularly if we limit performance with v-sync. We're instead compelled to look at more demanding settings in order to evaluate each build's graphics configuration.

Strangely, this quarter's overclocked setup appears to have a limitation in StarCraft II at everything but 1280x1024. If this were a CPU-oriented limitation, we'd expect it to include 1280x1024.

The overclocked third-quarter build exhibits similar behavior at our Ultra/Extreme settings, except for a graphics performance drop at 2560x1600. The fourth quarter's cap is down to around 218 FPS, and it carries through to 2560x1600 where it finally beats the Q3 build. But again, do we need frame rates that high in a game like StarCraft II? Not at all.

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  • Steveymoo
    I was getting ready to whine about power consumption with those AMD cards, but it looks like they're not so bad! I'd be interested to know how loud/whiny this system gets, and how it would perform with 2 gtx 680s instead.

    Also, I find it weird that those crossfire GPUs fall flat on their face at 2560 resolution in some games. Is there some kind of crossfire/gpu memory issue going on there?