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

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

High-performance graphics cards are the most egregious power consumers in every machine we test, and this quarter's build has two of them.

On the other hand, the previous machine's Sandy Bridge-E-based Core i7-3930K processor suffers poor efficiency scaling when it gets overclocked. Those factors put last quarter's configuration at the top and bottom of our power consumption chart, depending on its host clock rate.

Last quarter's CPU starts out cooler and stays cooler, even as its overclock dissipated an additional 200+ W of heat compared to our newest creation. A better case could be part of its advantage, but the temporary unavailability of a value-oriented oversized cooler undoubtedly hurt us this quarter.

Our new machine's superior gaming alacrity helps it nearly catch up to our previous system's average performance. A great overclock could have helped it match our prior effort, but, simply, we ran into motherboard issues and were forced to use a heat sink other than the one we really wanted. Both factors inhibit what we think the Core i7-3770K should be capable of.

Overclocking efficiency has always been a problem for Intel's Sandy Bridge-E design, but at least it does well at stock frequencies. Last quarter's default sets the baseline today, and we subtract 100% from all results to show only the efficiency lost by other configurations.

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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?