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Motherboard, CPU Cooling And Case

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: A $2400 PC That Costs $2700

Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme4

September’s build was only moderately successful with ASRock’s mid-market X79 Extreme6. So why would I choose a lower-model board from the same vendor? And why would I pay an extra $20 for a product that, based on its specifications, should be inferior?

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's X79 Extreme4

Well, there’s that award I gave the platform almost two years ago, for starters. My hope that its less expensive and better-equipped sibling was fixed through firmware was dashed last quarter. So now I'm hoping that this pricier version is as good as the sample I reviewed way back in 2012.

CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme

I’m once again relying on personal experience. Thermaltake’s Water 2.0 Extreme was the top-performing sample of our 2013 round-up series.

Read Customer Reviews of Thermaltake's Water 2.0 Extreme

I expect this closed-loop solution to seriously outperform my September build’s big heat sink, particularly matched up to the right kind of case.

Case: Fractal Design Define R4

You could argue that the best enclosure for Thermaltake’s Water 2.0 Extreme would be anything able to support its radiator up front, used as an intake. On the other hand, the right case for AMD's Radeon R9 290 might be something with extra noise dampening to muffle the fan that spins up to obnoxious levels under load.

Read Customer Reviews of Fractal Design's Define R4

Fortunately for me, Fractal Design’s Define R4 offers both traits. No wonder it earned our Recommended Buy award back in 2012.

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