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Mean and green: How to build a gaming PC that's fast, quiet, and efficient

Marco Chiappetta | April 16, 2014
With all of the CPU advances, it's now possible to configure a relatively fast system that's also whisper quiet and surprisingly power efficient.

As you can see, overall performance was quite good. The relatively fast CPU, discrete graphics card, and SSD pushed the system's PCMark 7 score well over 7,200 points, which is nothing to sneeze at, easily trumping our recent Steam Box and upgrade test builds. (PCMark 7 measures overall system performance.)

The system's scores in 3DMark's graphics test and Cinebench R15's CPU and GPU benchmarks were also good, particularly in Cinebench's OpenGL test, where the rig put up over 122 frames per second (fps). The system also handled 1080p gaming well, with frame rates in excess of 50 fps in Lost Planet 2 and 72 fps in Batman: Arkham Origins, with all image quality options set to their high-quality modes, with anti-aliasing enabled. Opting for a more powerful graphics card would obviously result in higher frame rates, but would negatively impact power draw and very possibly the noise level.

More importantly, the system remained nice and quiet regardless of the workload, and power consumption was relatively low, especially considering how quickly the system ran. From about one foot away from the rear of the system, it registered only 39.6 decibels on our digital sound level meter. That's not silent by any means—it's impossible to be totally silent when there are fans moving air around—but it is very, very quiet. The fans in the system produced an unobtrusive, low-pitched hum that was hardly noticeable during use. Ditching the extra fan up front would've made the rig even quieter, but since the rig was built to game, it felt prudent to include it.

The power consumption numbers are impressive in light of the system's performance. To put things into perspective, this system probably consumed half as much power while idling than the light bulbs above your desk. Even under load, the system's power consumption peaked at 144 watts. If you thought that a 430-watt PSU wasn't enough for this kind of rig, think again.

In the end, we couldn't be more pleased with this system. It wasn't cheap, but it proved to be fast, quiet, and quite power-friendly. That puts a nice, green sheen on your need for speed.

 

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