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CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: Our Enthusiast PC

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K

Back when we placed our order with Newegg, Intel's Core i5-4670K was a price/performance champion for PC enthusiasts. But with the arrival of Core i5-4690K and its improved thermal interface, we'll probably give that CPU a shot next time around. Both processors share the same $240 price tag, so there's no financial penalty to pay. Availability is the only barrier to overcome; even now, the -4690K isn't in stock yet.

In any case, we know the Core i5, at any given clock rate, holds its own against the Core i7 family in lightly-threaded applications. Conversely, more parallelized workloads will favor the Hyper-Threading-equipped Core i7.

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

We've messed with several Core i5-4670Ks, and most top out around 4.3 GHz across all four cores. I'm curious to see if this quarter's System Builder Marathon retail specimen is any different.

Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Pro3

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z97 Pro3

This is one of the lowest-priced motherboards available with Intel's overclocking-friendly Z97 Express PCH. You can find it with a $100 price tag on Newegg.

ASRock's Z87 Pro3 was good to us last quarter, so we look forward to gauging whether the updated Platform Controller Hub makes any appreciable difference today.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus

Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus is an excellent performer, and a $30 price tag makes it one of the best low-cost options for enthusiasts. Given a tight parts budget, I didn't see any other compelling competitors for less than $35, so Cooler Master's proven heat sink became an easy choice.

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