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The Components In Our Reference Build

Tom's Hardware Graphics Charts: Performance In 2014
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The following table includes the components in our 2014 Reference System:

Bench Table
Microcool Banchetto 101
System
Intel Core i7-4930K (Ivy Bridge-E), Overclocked to 4 GHz
Asus Rampage IV Black Edition, X79 Express
32 / 64 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3-2133
Enermax TLC 240 Closed-Loop Liquid Cooler
1 x 512 GB Samsung 840 Pro
1 x 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro
Power Supply
Corsair AX860i with Modified Rail (for Power Consumption Measurement)

CPU: Intel Core i7-4930K

Last year, we discovered that our overclocked Core i7-3770K occasionally interfered with our graphics benchmarks. Since we're planning to use this platform for workstation-oriented applications as well, it's time to toss the mainstream stuff and go with an LGA 2011-based Core i7-4930K sporting six cores and able to schedule 12 threads. In the gaming charts, it's overclocked to 4 GHz. When we switch over to the professional hardware, I drop it back to 3.4 GHz.

Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Black Edition

The foundation of any system is a solid motherboard able to facilitate stable, consistent results.

It's no coincidence that I went with Asus' Rampage IV Black Edition, then. Not only is it easy to get running the way I need, but the board also comes with a number of measurement points for taking readings. X79 Express is an old chipset by modern standards, necessitating third-party controllers to enable many of its features. Asus deploys these intelligently.

The Asus Rampage IV Black Edition’s four 16-lane PCI Express slots run in any number of different link configurations; we'll only need them to run in two-way CrossFire or SLI at full x16 bandwidth.

Cooling

We got lucky with our CPU. After making our way through the Rampage IV Black Edition's seemingly endless list of settings, the Core i7-4930K settled in with all six cores stable at 4 GHz without increasing voltage. In fact, there was even some headroom available to lower it a bit. 

That good behavior reflects in the thermals. Using Enermax's ELC240 closed-loop liquid cooler, they wouldn't exceed 67 degrees Celsius after an hour of running LinX.

The highest overclock that makes sense on this system is 4.5 GHz, giving us some room to grow in case we're able to identify a performance bottleneck at some point in the future.

Thermal Paste for Our Benchmark System and Graphics Cards

We're cooling a fairly high-power CPU, plus taking apart and reconfiguring a lot of graphics cards. That means we need an effective thermal paste. After a lot of testing over the past two years, our German team has settled on Gelid's GC-Extreme, since it's easy to apply and doesn't require any special burn-in period.

For more information on thermal paste testing and the research we've put into it, check out Thermal Paste Comparison, Part One: Applying Grease And More and Thermal Paste Comparison, Part Two: 39 Products Get Tested.

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