System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: A Balanced High-End Build

Results: SiSoftware Sandra

Sandra Arithmetic reminds me that this quarter's high-end build overclocks dismally; it's solidly beaten by the previous $1600 PC, even. And, in comparison, my older $2400 machine achieves a monstrous overclock.

The only silver lining is that my $1600 build fares better in Sandra's Memory Bandwidth module than the last PC we tested at the same price point. In turn, my Cryptography results are stronger. Don didn't get very aggressive with his memory overclock, and his system's performance reflects that.

Again, Sandra's Memory Bandwidth benchmark shows how Don's $1600 PC falls behind. He used the kit's SPD timings to represent stock performance, and simply dialed in XMP settings, calling that overclocked. Meanwhile, my system benefits from XMP in its stock configuration (this is as simple as flipping a BIOS switch, after all) and a true memory tune-up when the rest of the system is tweaked.

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  • mrmike_49
    Only 8GB RAM for a high end PC? Just plain too much money spent on graphics card. Also, too much money spent on "yuppie" power supply/case
    -27
  • wabba
    kidding me, hdd and windows 8, pls, read up on hardware toms hardware.....and software.
    -26
  • de5_Roy
    thermaltake nic L32 doesn't seem well suited for the cpu for stock operations. at stock settings, the cpu's load temp is 57c over ambient according to the temp. chart. the q1 $1600 pc has a hyper 212 evo and it ran the stock i7 4770k under 40c over ambient. from the looks, the tt nic cooler seemed a better performer than the hyper 212 evo.
    was multicore enhancement enabled for both the q1 $1600(asrock z87 pro3) and this quarter's high end pc(asus z97-a)? did it affect the heat output? asus keeps m.c.e. enabled by default. i can't see any other factors atm.

    all 3 builds look very well-performing this quarter. looking forward to the perf-value analysis.
    0
  • Taintedskittles
    Reading the reviews on newegg about that PowerColor 290x you chose was hilarious. So whoever win's this thing can look forward to many many rma's in the future. Apparently its plagued with artifacts, bad fans, bios issues, & performance degradation. I would have chosen another brand at the very least.
    5
  • pauldh
    To be fair though, look at the dates of those negative Newegg reviews. All but one of the complaints appeared after this system was ordered mid-May. Prior available feedback WAS almost all positive. And a manufacturer rep jumped in to resolve that one.
    3
  • Crashman
    335775 said:
    Only 8GB RAM for a high end PC? Just plain too much money spent on graphics card. Also, too much money spent on "yuppie" power supply/case
    A yuppie power supply...OK...

    1693106 said:
    kidding me, hdd and windows 8, pls, read up on hardware toms hardware.....and software.
    The last time I checked the "Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE250BW" wasn't an HDD, and nobody wanted us to run OS/2 on a modern gaming system. Please read the charts, wabba
    9
  • crisan_tiberiu
    Make this "competition" global please... :( You have "Tom's Hardware" in every major region in the world... :) Also FedEx and DHL ships everywehere in the world :) make all readers happy :) Our traffic is good for your site, but we never get something special :((
    4
  • rush21hit
    If I had a specs like this, I don't want it to be encased. I'd stick it to my wall even if it means I had to figure out how to do it.
    2
  • SessouXFX
    If aesthetics doesn't play a role, this is a pretty damn good build...
    2
  • Realist9
    I think the author hit his mark for the intent of the build/article based on the budget limit and provides a good starting point for us. However, if I was actually building and buying for myself, I would make some changes to add headroom and compatibility.

    I would go with 16 GB of memory for $85 more, since that’s only $85/$1600=5% more cost. I’d also go ahead and get the Asus 780 for $520. (Side note: I disagree that most would go AMD in a 780 vs 290x, but I know better than to open that can of worms). SLI was mentioned but not used, and I also would not get SLI unless I KNEW it worked with the game I was most interested in. The posts on various forums about SLI causing problems in most games, along with SLI “issues” dating back to 3dFX Voodoo2 cards, keeps me away from SLI.

    I also would stay away from “generally stable, but usually not stable in the games I want to play most” (not quoting the author here) overclocking of the system/video card. It’s nice to see it in the charts, but I read about way too many problems in games caused by overclocking for me to rely on it to get my ‘value’.

    Lastly, I think the pendulum has swung too far towards “value” for the high end build. I suggest tweaking that a little for future high end builds (eg..780Ti, 16 GB memory, 500GB SSD, but continue to stay away from $1000 CPU, $1200 SLI, etc).
    4
  • Onus
    I'm a little curious why a Crossfire / SLI build wasn't used; I'd expect a pair of $260 cards to beat a single $520 card in many things, and where the pair of cards didn't work too well, even one such card would still allow "decent" settings for an enjoyable experience. That's not a criticism; it is a genuine curiosity. Note that I am generally not a fan of multi-card setups, but then I don't see paying almost as much for one graphics card as for an entire system.
    The big lesson here though, is that people should NOT rely on the silicon lottery to meet their performance needs. Overclocking is NOT a sure thing. I seem to recall this happening before in the SBM; it's a lesson that needs to stick.
    I might have made some different choices, but I'm not going to fault the ones that were made here (the head-scratching is left over from Don's choices yesterday of an Apevia case and a Corsair "CX"). I might be curious about the single-card choice, but I don't think I have grounds for criticism of the build in general.
    2
  • Onus
    Alternate builds that do not follow the well-established rules of the SBM (e.g. parts from alternate sources) will be moderated out of existence. When mentioning pricing, keep in mind the LONG lead times for the series, and prices will almost certainly be different now from what they were then.
    0
  • zooted
    Yikes, give that gpu some support! Seriously though, how heavy is that thing?
    1
  • MachineMan
    I am so confused. Are the different builds in a SBM compared against each other or are Q2 builds compared against Q1?

    If the Q2 builds are compared against each other on day 4, then the price categories should be comparable. Please compare the way WB 1T is placed in "Enthusiast" build vs "High-End" build. Different categories, if I understand correctly. And the high-end build DOES include the SSD in the Platform cost. Anyway, the price categories are named differently , so I cannot compare the builds directly.

    I dont know if I made myself clear... The prices are divided in these sections Platform-TotalHardware-CompleteSystem, but Enthusiast build is divided differently.
    1
  • de5_Roy
    47340 said:
    The big lesson here though, is that people should NOT rely on the silicon lottery to meet their performance needs. Overclocking is NOT a sure thing.

    +1.
    4
  • Crashman
    47340 said:
    I'm a little curious why a Crossfire / SLI build wasn't used
    For the same reason I used a 750W power supply: I wanted the owner to have a CrossFire upgrade option. The board practically supports only two cards, the third slot is...x1 as I recall.

    341979 said:
    Yikes, give that gpu some support! Seriously though, how heavy is that thing?
    Nah, it's nice and light. Unlike a lot of similar-looking cards, the cooler on this one is mostly air. That's mentioned in the card's review too.
    2
  • firefoxx04
    I'd rather have 8gb and a better gpu than 16gb that I won't using

    And these giveaways might not be allowed to be global due to United States laws. They don't just ignore international viewers
    7
  • DSzymborski
    Newegg reviews also rave about craptastic Logisys and other horrid power supplies. Random consumer reviews and a sack is worth the sack.
    4
  • Xeres Forteen
    Windows 8? Next, please.
    -8
  • lp231
    At $90 for a case, I would have gone with a Full Tower one, so that it can support E-ATX boards and not only that, you get more room to work with.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811815039
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146114
    -6