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Motherboard, Case, And Power

System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: The $2400 People’s Choice PC

The LGA 1150 market is flooded with Z87 Express-based motherboards battling for value supremacy. We only needed to look back to Fast And Cheap? Five Sub-$160 Z87 Motherboards For Enthusiasts to narrow the field.

Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme4

We've given ASRock a hard time for using temporary discounts to win favor. But today's regular price for the Z87 Extreme4 is pretty much the formerly-discounted price. Other vendors haven't kept pace with the company's aggressive pricing, so the board's Smart Buy award remains very much relevant.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z87 Extreme4

The Z87 Extreme4 won its award by offering more features than the similarly-priced Biostar Hi-Fi Z87X 3D. Both products provide the exceptional overclocking capability we seek, but Biostar was unable to drop its price to compensate for a lighter feature set.

Case: NZXT Phantom 410

NZXT’s Phantom 410 won an award for its cooling-to-noise ratio in spite of its ventilated side panel. That’s impressive. I’d like to imagine what the case might accomplish with an extra intake fan on the front and no vent in the side panel.

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Phantom 410

On the other hand, it’s easier for me to imagine what this case might look like with liquid cooling installed. The top panel design begs for a radiator, and today it’s getting one.

Power Supply: Corsair HX750

My previous build lived well under an 850 W Seasonic power supply, even after overclocking its early-technology six-core processor. The new CPU would save at least 100 W, and that opened up higher-efficiency options like Corsair’s HX750.

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's HX750 PSU

Rock-solid stability through several of my previous builds keeps Corsair’s HX750 on my short list, while an 80 PLUS Gold rating also reduces operational expense compared to the previous build’s 850 W 80 PLUS Bronze-rated unit. Some readers will likely criticize the part for being semi-modular, but the non-modular cables are needed anyway.

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