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How We Tested Our Mainstream Enthusiast System

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: Our Enthusiast PC

The following tables include the stock and overclocked settings for this quarter's mainstream enthusiast system, followed by the configuration we put together earlier this year, which serves as our comparison point.

At the very bottom, you’ll find the programs and games used for benchmarking.

Q2 2014 Enthusiast PC Test Settings: $986 of Performance Hardware
 Default Configuration
MotherboardASRock Z97 Pro3, LGA 1150, Intel Z97 ExpressUnchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4670K (Haswell): 3.4 GHz (3.8 GHz max. Turbo Boost), 6 MB Shared L3 Cache
4.3 GHz (43 * 100 MHz), 1.285 V (Load)
Memory8 GB Team Group Vulcan (2 x 4 GB) TLYD38G1600HC9DC01, 1333 MT/s, CAS 9-9-9-24-1T1600 MT/s, 9-9-9-24-2T, 1.5 V
GraphicsPowerColor TurboDuo Radeon R9 290 4 GB, 975 MHz max. core clock rate, GDDR5-5000 1100 MHz max. core clock rate, GDDR5-5600
HardDriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/sUnchanged
OpticalLG GH24NSB0: DVD BurnerUnchanged
CaseApevia X-Hermes ATX Mid-Tower Computer CaseUnchanged
PowerCorsair CX750 750 W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Bronze-Certified PSUUnchanged
Q1 2014 Enthusiast PC Test Settings: $1459 of Performance Hardware
 Default Configuration
MotherboardASRock Z87 Pro3 LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.5 GHz (3.9 GHz max. Turbo Boost), 8 MB Shared L3 Cache4.4 GHz (44 * 100 MHz), 1.2 V (Load)
Memory8 GB Corsair Vengeance LP (2 x 4 GB) CML8GX3M2A1866C9B, 1333 MT/s, CAS 9-9-9-24-1T1866 MT/s, 9-10-9-27 2T, 1.5 V
GraphicsGalaxy GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3 GB, 875/928 MHz base/typical GPU Boost, GDDR5-7000
+150 MHz GPU, GDDR5-7400
System Drive
Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE120BW 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSDUnchanged
Storage DriveWD Black 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/sUnchanged
OpticalLG Black WH14NS40, 4 MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray BurnerUnchanged
CaseNZXT Phantom 410 Computer CaseUnchanged
PowerCorsair 650TX 650 W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Bronze Modular PSUUnchanged

And here are the benchmark details:

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Arma 3
V. 1.20 Current PC, V.1.08 Q1 PC
30-sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar"
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO AMD/ HBAO NVidia 
Grid 2Version, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version:, MPEG2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-channel, 16-bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion Create Video, 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6Version, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat XIVersion 11.0.0: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encyption
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion 2.68a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinRARVersion 5.0, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark ProfessionalVersion:, Fire Strike Standard and Extreme
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64 Full Test
SiSoftware Sandra 2014Version: 2014.02.20.10, Processor Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
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