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Video Card, Power Supply, And Case

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: Our Enthusiast PC
By

Graphics Card: PowerColor TurboDuo Radeon R9 290

Right now, the Radeon R9 290 is my favorite high-end graphics card at its price point. But that didn't protect me from the price changes that happened between when board was purchased and now. While PowerColor's TurboDuo sold for $380 back in May, it jumped up to $480 and now sells for $430 on Newegg. That's a temporary price, which includes a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO. And this System Builder Marathon machine is sorely missing an SSD. But when the sale is overs, we're told this card will fall back to $400.

There are lower-priced Radeon R9 290s, of course. Even equipped with aftermarket cooling, you don't need to spend more than $410 for a good specimen. 

Read Customer Reviews of PowerColor's TurboDuo Radeon R9 290


We hope PowerColor's card can compete with the previous build's GeForce GTX 780 Ti. The GeForce comes equipped with a fully-enabled GK110 processor, making it one of the fastest single-GPU boards you can buy for gaming. But it also costs a lot more. PowerColor should take the crown for value.

Power Supply: Corsair CX750 750 W PSU

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CX750


While a strong 650 W power supply would have been fine, Corsair's CX750 was on sale for $80 back in May, and I couldn't pass it up. The CX750 is now up in the $100 range, so if I had to pick again, I'd probably go for the company's CX600 to save some dough.

Case: Apevia X-Hermes

Read Customer Reviews of Apevia's X-Hermes


For $60, it's hard to find a PC enclosure that offers more than Apevia's X-Hermes. The enclosure comes with four 120 mm fans installed, in addition to a mammoth 200 mm cooler on the side window. Progressive styling and red LED accents don't hurt either, though more conservative enthusiasts may prefer something on the conservative side instead.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 25, 2014 2:00 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.


    How is this the best suggested build for the money if you're only locking it to one retailer? That's...kinda silly
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p 
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    BilinearCheese , June 25, 2014 12:32 AM
    I have to say guys, that enthusiast level build is terrible. Apevia case? Turbo Duo 290? NO SSD? Come on. For 16 bucks less I put together a system WITH an SSD, a decent case, a much better 290, and a better motherboard/cpu cooler. Hell, I even managed to get a color scheme together for it as well:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/FRyNgs

    [Answer by Cleeve:]

    "Terrible" = same CPU, cooler, graphics card, and equal benchmark performance?

    The case we chose really doesn't matter, as the first page of article points out. Case/optical drive is completely subjective. That's exactly why we've separated the performance parts price from case/optical/OS.
    By the way, are you just assuming Apevia its bad because you prefer other well-known brands? It did a fantastic job for the purposes of this article, so other than brand, what's your issue with it? Is brand the same problem you have with the 290? Because it's cooler is quite good.
    Speaking of coolers, the Hyper 212 EVO is virtually the 212 plus with a different fan. Is this really the huge difference you're implying it is?

    You're also specing it out two months after we did, with lower prices. An SSD would have been great, but two months ago when we ordered there was no room in the budget, and we weren't willing to sacrifice the 290.

    Bottom line, you're being a little sensationalist about picking nits.
  • 0 Hide
    itzsnypah , June 25, 2014 1:14 AM
    When overclocking the CPU are you leaving the uncore coupled to the core multiplier or uncoupled and set at x34/36? You averaging nearly 1.3v for only 4.3Ghz is very poor.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 25, 2014 1:15 AM
    I have to question the need for Z97 mobo. If you go with the Haswell and not the Haswell update and you do not include M.2 SSD, then why go with Z97? If you are choosing the Z97 to have a upgrade path, you should also go for the Devil's Canyon cpu. Budget-wise it is a really bad idea to even think about going for D.C. Haswell chip later on.

    The ssd gives you an easily felt sensation of speed every time you boot. Just got an ssd myself like 2 months ago. Any other go-fast parts come secondary. Ditch the Z97 and the ODD and you could squeeze in a SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    envy14tpe , June 25, 2014 1:28 AM
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.
  • -7 Hide
    BilinearCheese , June 25, 2014 1:46 AM
    Quote:
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.


    How is this the best suggested build for the money if you're only locking it to one retailer? That's...kinda silly
  • 12 Hide
    Crashman , June 25, 2014 2:00 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.


    How is this the best suggested build for the money if you're only locking it to one retailer? That's...kinda silly
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p 
  • 2 Hide
    envy14tpe , June 25, 2014 2:15 AM
    Quote:
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p 


    No one will ever question your parts selection ever again!! Maybe add a side note on price page that all parts are from/ must be bought on Newegg.
  • -6 Hide
    BilinearCheese , June 25, 2014 2:17 AM
    Quote:
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p 


    All newegg, still cheaper with better components:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/pj7bCJ

    What's the next rule, no rebates?
  • 7 Hide
    Crashman , June 25, 2014 2:21 AM
    Quote:

    All newegg, still cheaper with better components:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/pj7bCJ

    What's the next rule, no rebates?


    No mail-in rebates because they usually disappear before we can publish and, because when you have $100 you can't buy a $149 part that has a $50 MIR :) 

    Instant rebates and sales are fine because when the discount on one part disappears, the discount on another part appears.

    BTW, I like the look of your case. I never understood what the deal was with don and ugly cases, but he's Canadian so I know better than to ask.
  • -3 Hide
    BilinearCheese , June 25, 2014 2:26 AM
    Quote:
    No mail-in rebates because they usually disappear before we can publish and, because when you have $100 you can't buy a $149 part that has a $50 MIR :) 

    Instant rebates and sales are fine because when the discount on one part disappears, the discount on another part appears.


    Even with that in mind, my second build without rebates totals 1178. Changing the motherboard to a z87 Extreme3 (because z97 isn't a benefit if you're not going for haswell refresh or an ssd) and it's 3 bucks more than the build listed.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , June 25, 2014 2:31 AM
    Quote:
    Even with that in mind, my second build without rebates totals 1178. Changing the motherboard to a z87 Extreme3 (because z97 isn't a benefit if you're not going for haswell refresh or an ssd) and it's 3 bucks more than the build listed.
    I like the Z87. I'm the guy who said that Z97 isn't a new chipset, it's at best a new stepping of Z87.

  • -4 Hide
    BilinearCheese , June 25, 2014 2:38 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Even with that in mind, my second build without rebates totals 1178. Changing the motherboard to a z87 Extreme3 (because z97 isn't a benefit if you're not going for haswell refresh or an ssd) and it's 3 bucks more than the build listed.
    I like the Z87. I'm the guy who said that Z97 isn't a new chipset, it's at best a new stepping of Z87.



    The chipset isn't my concern to be honest. It's the idea that it's a sub par 290, no SSD, and a weaker cooler than you could fit into that budget.
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , June 25, 2014 2:52 AM
    There does appear to be one additional advantage of Z97, at least in the
    UK anyway, namely pricing for equivalents boards seems to be slightly
    lower. Recently, before the Z97 launch, I was looking into options for a
    combined HTPC/mini-gaming build; the ASUS board I found (forget the
    model offhand) was about 130 UKP. The 'replacement' Z97 equivalent
    (Z97I-Plus) is about 15 cheaper. A small saving one might say, but
    often these amounts are cited as being critical in these SBMs.

    Ian.

  • -3 Hide
    alexandrosgr , June 25, 2014 3:16 AM
    I may have missed something but why are this quarter's builds weaker than the ones from the last quarter?
  • 3 Hide
    envy14tpe , June 25, 2014 4:25 AM
    Quote:
    I may have missed something but why are this quarter's builds weaker than the ones from the last quarter?


    You need to read the article. This current build Q2 2014 cost $986/$1166 whereas the Q1 2014 one had a higher budget of $1450/$1713. This new build is $460 less.
  • 2 Hide
    alexandrosgr , June 25, 2014 4:35 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I may have missed something but why are this quarter's builds weaker than the ones from the last quarter?


    You need to read the article. This current build Q2 2014 cost $986/$1166 whereas the Q1 2014 one had a higher budget of $1450/$1713. This new build is $460 less.


    Wow, I'm surprised I missed that. Thanks !
  • -2 Hide
    Adroid , June 25, 2014 5:40 AM
    Sorry I'm gonna have to argue the methodology here a little. The Enthusiast build is always my favorite read of the trio of Tom's Sys Builder marathons for the following reasons:

    The entry level machine is never worth the money due to lack of future proofing, and the high-end system is past the point of reason, which I personally wouldn't waste money on even if I had an extra couple thousand laying around.

    My critiques :

    * Running memory at 1333 is an obvious bottleneck, even if it's small, it's measurable enough to be significant. I can't understand what you stand to prove by bottlenecking the system with the RAM. It's well understood that 1600 mhz DDR3 is the "entry" level for i5 systems.
    * The change in dollar value was unwarranted haha. This is just my one opinion, but an extra 200-500$ goes a long way at this sector, because the 1200$ price point allows more into the GPU/CPU which makes a huge performance bump.

    I'm just trying to give my constructive criticism because it's an exciting article to read and see what selection of core components for the 1200-1500 range can win out. This article you shaved 500$ off the build and the article suffers as a result because it has no chance to compete with last quarter's build, and thereby defeats the purpose of the article (I speak for myself).
  • 3 Hide
    Traciatim , June 25, 2014 6:33 AM
    Quote:

    I'm just trying to give my constructive criticism because it's an exciting article to read and see what selection of core components for the 1200-1500 range can win out. This article you shaved 500$ off the build and the article suffers as a result because it has no chance to compete with last quarter's build, and thereby defeats the purpose of the article (I speak for myself).


    No one will argue against a 1500 dollar machine will perform better than a 1000 dollar machine and the budgets for these builds was getting pretty crazy.

    For example, an SSD is really just a luxury item that doesn't actually change the performance of applications or games all that much once they are loaded, so it's probably one of the bests value items to cut out if you are on a budget and want the best performance per dollar. It's also one of the best things to spend extra money on to make your machine feel snappy because things start when you click on them.

    For the last round the mid range PC came in at $1459, but it was a 4770k and a 780ti. That's pretty much the top stuff you can possibly buy at the time without getting in to specialized situations. How is that in any way challenging to design a mid range system... or in fact, how is it even a mid range system?
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , June 25, 2014 6:38 AM
    I'm not going to niggle specific pricing, because that always varies, month to month. If a "better" R9 290 was available for less now, it may not have been then.
    But...
    Apevia is on my personal "Do Not Buy" list. What was your impression of the material quality on this one? To me it looked garish; that side panel has "cheesy" all over it. The one Apevia case I bought years ago was a great design (fit/finish was good too), but the material quality and QC on it were so bad I ended up tossing it into the grabbage after a couple months of fighting with a front panel grounding issue. While not as bad as the Chokemax case you tried a year or so ago, this is the second time you've gone with a cheap case, and I understand the ire it has provoked.
    The specific models have varied over the months and years, but I have never been unable to find a 120mm tower cooler offering similar performance to the Hyper212 EVO that was not notably cheaper (e.g. $8-$15); I might lose 1C on cooling, but gain a notch up somewhere else that will make a bigger difference. I'm not saying it is a bad cooler (I accept that it is not), but I don't know why so many people parrot a model that is such a bang/buck Loser.
    Even un-stressed, IMHO the Corsair "CX" with its inferior Samxon capacitors is not a valid choice for an enthusiast build.
    I hope this lays to rest the idea that an "enthusiast" build can skip the SSD.
    I like the pricing calculation changes, and the lowered budgets. Insofar as it affects cooling though, I think it would be good to include the case in the "Performance Parts" category, and count it against the "Performance" budget.

    *smashes head against desk* Hit wrong button; this should be two votes higher than it is. - SS
  • 0 Hide
    elbert , June 25, 2014 6:43 AM
    Every time I read these I have a desire to find the last quarters parts list. Could you please add last quarters spec's with this quarters parts list. Thanks!
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