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CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC
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CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K

Intel's Core i5 is still a top choice when it comes to nailing the price to performance ratio for gaming, and the Haswell-based -4670 is the company's newest addition in a family of sub-$250 multiplier-unlocked CPUs.

This is the same processor we put to the test in last quarter's mid-range build, so don't expect to see much difference when it comes to our productivity-oriented benchmarks.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-4670K


I'm most curious to see if this retail sample overclocks any better than the one we used last time, which capped out at 4.3 GHz and enjoyed the benefit of a closed-loop cooling system.

Motherboard: Asus Z87-Plus

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' Z87-Plus


At $160, Asus' Z87-Plus is significantly cheaper than most top-tier LGA 1150 motherboards, many of which sell for more than $200.

This board is no slouch though; it sports a solid reputation for overclocking reliably. And so I'm giving it a chance to prove itself in this quarter's System Builder Marathon.

CPU Cooler: Enermax ETS-T40

Read Customer Reviews of Enermax's ETS-T40


We saved some money by going with an affordable heat sink and fan instead of a closed-loop liquid cooler. Hopefully, in a chassis with decent airflow, this won't limit our overclocking headroom.

Enermax's ETS-T40 offers particularly good value with excellent cooling ability attributable to its large 120 mm fan and copper heat pipes, and is especially attractive thanks to a very reasonable $35 price tag.

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  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , December 27, 2013 4:15 AM
    I just wanted to let you guys know before the $2400 PC pops up, that this renewed focus on gaming is a Don and Paul effort. With $2400 on the line, it's easy to improve the entire machine and try to make a clean sweep of every benchmark :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 27, 2013 4:45 AM
    This was a good build, if only for the single data point that was the power usage. At stock, you could get away with a good 650W PSU, but overclocked it's probably not a good idea. There weren't really any surprises anywhere else. The one pic was dark; how was cable management in that case? I used one a while back and reviewed it, and I though that was probably its weakest point.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 27, 2013 6:33 AM
    If you would like comments and assistance on a personal build, please start your own thread in the New Builds forum. This thread is for discussions about the System Builder Marathon machines. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , December 27, 2013 6:36 AM
    I have to say I'm really surprised for the crappy scaling of the GTX770s. Was it a CPU bound issue or maybe a PCIe bottleneck? Driver issue? Profile issue? haha

    I'm really surprised to say the least.

    Cheers!
  • 1 Hide
    blubbey , December 27, 2013 6:43 AM
    !!!IMPORTANT!!!!

    Before commenting about benches, read:

    "Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas."

    Last page, last paragraph.

    Nice build, hilariously good performance in BF3, In the more modern games, will there be any GPU memory bottlenecks with triple monitor setups? We shall see!
  • 3 Hide
    lp231 , December 27, 2013 7:08 AM
    It seems these sbm have no strict budget limit. Every time these sbm articles, the budget gets higher and higher. A $1,000 enthusiast pc would be more of a real world build, since that is the maximum amount, most people spend these days on their new build.
    What will the budget be for next times enthusiast pc?
    Now it is at $1,600. So next time it will be $2,500 cause getting them 2x GTX 880 in sli is consider as a budget enthusiast pc?!
  • 1 Hide
    Steve Pound , December 27, 2013 7:19 AM
    Who plays Skyrim on PC and not have a membership at Nexus so the most basic improvements can be made? Leading to: why has this site used the game for 2 years and not done that? Maybe FO4 will be more promising.
  • -2 Hide
    jtenorj , December 27, 2013 8:23 AM
    If go go with an optical drive in this price range, it should be a dvd burner. It's not that much more expensive, media prices are coming down(better cost per GB and speed than dvd in some cases) and lets you play blu tay movies without using bandwitdh to download or stream hd video. My 2 cents.
  • 0 Hide
    jtenorj , December 27, 2013 8:24 AM
    Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
  • 0 Hide
    mjmjpfaff , December 27, 2013 8:50 AM
    @Yuka
    It depends on which resolution you look at. I advise you to go back and look at the higher resolutions where the 770's in SLI can actually show a huge difference over one 770. It almost doubles in FPS over last quarter's build if you look at some 5760x1080 res. graphs.
  • 0 Hide
    Calculatron , December 27, 2013 9:04 AM
    Kudos for using an Enermax cooling solution, though I am sure that hordes will be wondering why a Cooler Master product wasn't used in its place. :\
  • -4 Hide
    ingtar33 , December 27, 2013 9:05 AM
    @yuka

    just because SLi works a lot better then xfire does not mean it's flawless. SLi has had serious scaling issues for a long time, and just like xfire simply doesn't work in a number of titles and screen settups.

    people have forgotten the issues with SLi since xfire is so obviously broken, but they're still there.
  • 1 Hide
    Gurg , December 27, 2013 9:24 AM
    So overclocked the GPUs were cranking 90ºc plus temps (70ºc+room ambients). It would have been curious to see the dbs of the twins 770s fans screaming away to compare with a 290 with a non-reference cooler.
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , December 27, 2013 10:34 AM
    Nice build and general similar parts I would choose if I ever spent $1600 on a PC.
  • -1 Hide
    redgarl , December 27, 2013 11:32 AM
    Oh wow, two card are faster than one...

    Seriously, multi-gpu is there to stay. My two 6850 in CF are still rendering anything I give them at 1080p. I honestly didn't see the difference from passing of single gpu to multi-gpu... but it's true that 6XXX series was working really well in CF.
  • -1 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , December 27, 2013 5:07 PM
    Quote:
    Oh wow, two card are faster than one...

    Seriously, multi-gpu is there to stay. My two 6850 in CF are still rendering anything I give them at 1080p. I honestly didn't see the difference from passing of single gpu to multi-gpu... but it's true that 6XXX series was working really well in CF.


    i would beg to differ, i had 6850's in crossfire, they worked well in a few games, more recent games were running out of vram causing major stuttering, unless your happy running medium details and minimal AA to reduce vram usage. Some games stuttered anyway unless you dropped details to get fps up high so the stuttering goes unnoticed. but then your only really getting a second card to get higher fps, without being able to turn up detail settings, which is not what i wanted. For me a single gtx660 was much smoother in all games than crossfire 6850's, despite producing lower average fps.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 27, 2013 5:31 PM
    Dual GTX 770 - faster than the Titan for less money. Awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , December 27, 2013 5:55 PM
    The case is FUGLY.

    Perhaps slide the HD back to a WD 1 TB rather than a POS Seagate... :) 

    And $7 fans?

  • 3 Hide
    HideOut , December 27, 2013 9:19 PM
    128gig SSD @ 150 when just a couple dollars more you can get a 240/256 class drive thats just as fast? FAIL
  • 0 Hide
    HideOut , December 27, 2013 9:25 PM
    In fact on newegg right now just looking @ 240, 250 and 256 gig SSD's there are 4 drives CHEAPER than yours (although only 3 pertain to this type of use) and a samsung 840 evo 250gig for only 162.99. To waste half the space to save a few dollars is sooooo fail. A 128 gig drive wont hold much in the way of games. Just BF4/CoD Ghost and WoW takes up over 100 gig (including 1 older game on steam) and I have no saved offline games or anything. Factor in an OS install and you are already dead in the water, nevermind saving xx% of your SSD to maintain speed.
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