Tom's Hardware's Haswell-Based System Builder Sweepstakes

Safe Harbor

Safe Harbor Computers' Tsunami blends desktop- and workstation-oriented parts in a configuration aimed at professionals. Not surprisingly, the configuration it sent us leans on Intel's Core i7-4770K. The LGA 1150-based processor drops into Asus' Z87 Deluxe/Dual motherboard, chosen for its twin Thunderbolt ports that come in handy for editing video on external storage. That board also comes with an 802.11ac wireless controller, which is nice.

In spite of those desktop-like parts, Safe Harbor ups this $4300 configuration's business-class chops with a PNY Quadro K5000 graphics card, a PNY Prevail Elite 240 GB boot SSD (guaranteed for 10,000 P/E cycles), and two 2 TB Caviar Black drives, which are striped in another nod to video pros.

The Tsunami makes heavy use of Thermaltake components, sporting the Water 2.0 closed-loop cooler, 80 PLUS Gold-rated TPG-1050M power supply, and Urban S31 chassis. Optical storage is addressed by a 24x DVD burner, and Safe Harbor bundles Windows 7 Professional (favored over Windows 8 in the workstation space).

Steiger Dynamics

The entry from Steiger Dynamics was particularly exciting for its enthusiast-class allure. The company specializes in HTPCs, so imagine our surprise when it came back to us offering a Core i7-4770K, de-lidded, and operating at 4.7 GHz. In an HTPC. Nuts, right? At first, it conceded that protecting such heavily-modified processors with a warranty wouldn't be possible, but then came back to say it was changing that policy and pulling de-lidded CPUs under the umbrella of its full coverage.

None of the LEET Core's other specifications look like they'd work in a quiet home theater environment, and yet that's exactly where this system is designed to do its business. Steiger Dynamics employs an Asus Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866, two Kingston HyperX 120 GB SSDs in RAID 0, four Western Digital Red 4 TB hard drives, two EVGA GeForce GTX 780s in SLI, a Seasonic 1000 W power supply, and custom water-cooling equipment from Swiftech. An acrylic glass lid and interior lighting assures that friends who don't believe what's inside of your HTPC can see for themselves.

As configured, the LEET Core sells for $6483. You can pare back on those specs and get in the door for $2400, though.

Velocity Micro

According to Velocity Micro, its Edge Z55 is a tournament gaming box, blending performance-oriented hardware with expert cable management for optimal cooling. The build that's competing today consists of Intel's Core i7-4770K on an Asus Z87 Deluxe motherboard, 32 GB of DDR3-1600 memory and an EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3 GB. We'd call that a well-balanced combination of parts. Velocity Micro adds a 500 GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD and 3 TB, 7200 RPM hard drive in a tiered storage subsystem, with a 12x Blu-ray burner for good measure.

A combination of closed-loop liquid cooling, tasteful lighting, a clean wiring job, and a bundled copy of Windows 7 Ultimate sounds a lot like what many enthusiasts would go for anyway if they didn't have the time to build. A $3674 price tag puts the Edge Z55 well in excess of Thomas' Q3 2013 System Builder Marathon setup, and we're sure our audience can spot each machine's strengths.


It may be hard to believe, but within the ultra high-end gaming space, there's a spectrum of practicality that ranges from "alright, I can see why you picked those parts" to "that's just insane". Xidax walks the line with a combination of components we'd love to see in our own system, but would still need to save up for.

The company's X-6 starts with a Core i7-4770K overclocked between 4 and 4.4 GHz on Asus' Z87 Sabertooth motherboard. It adds 32 GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum memory at DDR3-2133 data rates, two GeForce GTX Titans in SLI (also overclocked), and a Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe add-in card. Corsair is responsible for several of this machine's critical components: Xidax leans on an AX1200i power supply, two 480 GB Neutron GTX SSDs in RAID 0, and a H100i closed-loop liquid cooler. Add a 4 TB Western Digital Black hard drive and 14x Blu-ray burner to the specs list for our $6261 configuration.

Those parts are packed into an enclosure that Xidax calls the X-6 Case, though enthusiasts will recognize it as SilverStone's high-end TJ04. Green LED lighting adds a bit of flair. More attention-getting to us, however, is Xidax's lifetime parts and labor warranty, along with its lifetime U.S.-based tech support. We're not sure it's possible to beat a support plan like that, unless builders start making house calls!

Xotic PC

There are a handful of reasons we imagine enthusiasts would want to put the build process in someone else's hands, and one of them is extreme customization. Xotic PC's $6659 Scourge v2 embraces this with a custom "Nvidia green" metallic paint job, carbon fiber modification, neon green interior lighting, Battlefield 4 laser etching, and green water-cooling tubing, all applied to a standard Corsair Obsidian 900D case.

Inside, you'll find Intel's Core i7-4770K overclocked to a modest 3.9 GHz on Asus' Sabretooth Z87 motherboard. Thirty-two gigabytes of DDR3-2400 from Corsair are complemented by a pair of EVGA GeForce GTX Titan cards, a 480 GB Crucial M500 SSD, and a 2 TB Western Digital hard drive. There's a Blu-ray burner in there, too. EVGA's 1500 W SuperNOVA power supply ensures plenty of headroom for an additional couple of GK110-based cards if you want, though it's a bit overkill for this specific load-out. 

In addition to its stellar aesthetic, a lot of expense goes into the Scourge v2's dual-loop water-cooled setup, which consists of an XSPC reservoir, a 240 mm radiator, a 360 mm radiator, and blocks for the CPU, chipset, and GPUs. As with so many of the gaming systems we've seen lately, Xotic PC taps Windows 7 Ultimate for this machine.

It's Time To Vote!

Originally, our plan was to include 10 system configurations submitted by builders across the U.S., but we received so many different takes on what various companies were doing with Haswell-based processors (and so many gaming boxes that gave us hardware-lust) that we expanded the field to 15 contenders. You've seen the specs, the pricing, and the pictures. Now it's time to choose your three favorites. Click here to go to our contest page. Read the rules and select the three builds that you'd like to see receive Tom's Hardware Approved recognition.

  • s3anister
    Oh my.
  • Darkerson
    Wow, very nice giveaway! :)
  • kcconlin9319
    "The Sweepstakes opens on September 22, 2013 9:00 PM PDT and closes on October 7, 2013 9:00 PM PDT." I hope that's not correct... Love the super-compact Falcon NW system.
  • adimeister
    What is the GPU on cybertron PC build? GTX Ti Boost, I'm guessing 650ti boost..?
  • adimeister
    Got excited until........... "DUE TO LEGAL REQUIREMENTS, THIS CONTEST IS LIMITED TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE USA" Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy :((((
  • Zac Lloyd-Jones
    Oh great. Americans only again. Can't you give away these prizes to the rest of the world and have a separate competition for Americans for cheeseburgers and lard? I'm sure there would be no disappointment there.
  • monsta
    "Got excited until........... "DUE TO LEGAL REQUIREMENTS, THIS CONTEST IS LIMITED TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE USA" Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy :( ((("

    Isn't it always? :(
  • cangelini
    I think we cover this every time we give stuff away ;) In essence, due to the taxes and laws in other countries (and sometimes even in the U.S.; notice that Rhode Island cannot participate either), we can only operate this sweepstakes in the U.S.

    I very much wish we could work around this, and open the opportunity up to readers in other countries who support Tom's Hardware. Unfortunately, when it comes to legal matters like this one, it's out of my hands :(
  • rolli59

    The NCIX box my favorite one.
  • adimeister
    "Entered!" @rolli59: So jealous right now