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System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: Alternative $1750 PC

Component Installation And Overclocking

Four standoffs raise the mounting brackets of Cooler Master’s Hyper 612 Ver. 2, and the brackets are then secured with nuts. The clip on the cooler has a hook on one end and a screw on the other. The brackets both have hooks, but the kit includes only the one required screw riser.

After adding a little thermal compound to the top of the CPU (its heat spreader), I clipped one end of the heat sink’s factory-installed spring clip to the rear bracket and screwed the other end to the single riser seen above.

The Hyper 612 Ver. 2 might be thick, but it’s very offset towards the rear of the motherboard. That offset, along with shorter fins on the bottom, provide exceptional DRAM clearance.

My experience with this case lead me to slide some of its front-panel cables between the motherboard and its mounting panel. I repeated the drive installation from my previous build before adding the graphics card and power supply.

After trying various overclocking methods and reaching only 4.3GHz at 1.20V (stable with Prime95 AVX running 12 threads), I decided to go for greater frequencies at reduced thread count. Unpredictable clock rate results using custom per-core multipliers caused me to instead use stock multipliers with a 125MHz BCLK. This resulted in a practical operating range of 4.25 to 4.50GHz, since any load at least enables the CPU's lowest Turbo Boost ratio of 34x.

An added benefit of using the higher BCLK is that it automatically boosts my data rate from DDR4-2400 to -3000. The modules don't respond well to wild voltage increases, but a small bump from 1.2 to 1.25V did help me get the timings down.

MSI’s X99S SLI Plus automatically increases timings to CAS 20-20-20-40 when boosting the DRAM to DDR4-3000, up from the DDR4-2400 CAS 16-16-16-38 rating. That little bump in voltage (to 1.25V) allows complete stability at DDR4-3000 CAS 16-16-16-32.

I also increased the thermal threshold to 105° Celsius to reduce throttling, even though the hottest core was reaching 94° Celsius at an unreasonably full load. Why would I do that?

Rather than add one or two degrees to CPU temperature, the fully-loaded and overclocked GPU added a full 10 degrees. That’s because it blew all of its hot air up the side panel, towards the top of the CPU cooler. The good news is that this same graphics card reached a stunning 1.5GHz GPU core and GDDR5-8012 without even getting hot enough to force full fan speed. Heat rises, and the case’s lower fan did a good job of feeding air into the graphics cooler.

The bad news is that when I tried a higher overclock and crashed the program, I forgot to reset its maximum power limit. I’ll lose a few frames per second in worst-case gaming scenarios, but this race to the finish prevents me from spending an extra day gathering newer/better data.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Rancifer7
    Its great to see a build that shows just how much of a difference a good CPU and updated architecture can make within the same budget. Well done, thank you.
    Reply
  • zfreak280
    AAAAHHHH! Who spend $1750 on a PC and only puts 256 GB of storage in it!?!?!
    Reply
  • Grognak
    "A smaller but equally vocal group of enthusiasts suggested that a six-core CPU would be the true answer to overall system performance"

    Yeah because as everyone knows, higher definitions need more cores, right? And we don't have thousands of benchmarks showing that there's less than 1% improvement between a regular i7 and an hexacore one when it comes to games. We also don't have benchmarks showing that the 4770k outperforms the 5820k in just about every game thanks to the higher frequency. Clearly this is worth the $200 premium and weaker graphics.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    15392308 said:
    "A smaller but equally vocal group of enthusiasts suggested that a six-core CPU would be the true answer to overall system performance"

    Yeah because as everyone knows, higher definitions need more cores, right? And we don't have thousands of benchmarks showing that there's less than 1% improvement between a regular i7 and an hexacore one when it comes to games. We also don't have benchmarks showing that the 4770k outperforms the 5820k in just about every game thanks to the higher frequency. Clearly this is worth the $200 premium and weaker graphics.
    Er, wow, OK! Thanks for the input!

    Edit: Just to clarify, you think we should ditch the non-gaming benchmarks right?
    Reply
  • damric
    To properly showcase the 6 and 8 core Haswells you need to be gaming while recording/streaming in high quality. The lesser CPUs, especially the quads without HT simply can't keep up at this task. There is a rapidly growing market for making videos of gameplay. Not my thing, but it's something I might attempt if I had the hardware to do it.
    Reply
  • Gurg
    @Crashman Even though I don't know what most of the non-gaming benchmarks are used for, keep them for those for whom they are important. But from what I saw, in a pretty direct comparison, an overclocked 5820K beats a 4790k for ultra settings at higher resolutions.

    Seems like time to drop the 4790k and replace it with the 5820k in the March gaming CPU recommendations. The earlier Haswell E review also appears outdated as better bios, motherboards and ddr4 ram have become available. The cost difference between a 97 and 99 platform have also narrowed considerably.
    Reply
  • redgarl
    Point: Multigpu is the way to go.
    Reply
  • firefoxx04
    He we go with the "more cores suxxxxxx dude!!!" comments.

    Do you idiots really think that people who spend over $1500 on a system ONLY play games? Really?

    Some people do more than just game. They record their gameplay at top notch quality. Some people run lots of virtual machines. Some people like to run folding at home on a couple cores while gaming or doing other things. Video editors love lots of cores too.

    When quad cores became mainstream everyone said "pointless!!! Because games only use 2 cores!!! That statement has turned into, "pointless!!! Games only use 4 cores!!!!.

    The same thing was said about having lots of system ram. Remember when 64mb was the thing? Now im sitting here frustrated that my 8GB ddr3 set is not enough. Same thing with hard drive space. People always tell me, 500gb will take forever to fill up yet im sitting right here with 3TB of storage and I want more.

    This refusal to let better hardware become mainstream is frustrating, and a majority of the people against more cores (and other things) are the same people that watched mainstream go from 2 cores to 4 cores in only a couple years.
    Reply
  • caj
    @firefoxx4

    i cudnt agree without you less. people always refer that i7 are just a waste of money but they forget th endless opportunities that a pc can perform. till now a i7 870 hasnt yet failed me from 4 gpus goin from a 6850, 7850, 7970 and finally 280x. i often use my computer for many purposes. like they say its better to have and not need than to need and not have. the same people who kept saying that 8gb is more than enough while right now i feel more comfortable with 16 gb
    Reply
  • MasterMace
    I agree with your decision to go with a 6 core Intel and not SLI your graphics, although I am curious as to the lack of a HDD for storage. At this pricepoint, removing the HDD is not something I feel to be appropriate. Perhaps at the $1200 pricepoint, you could use the SSD in lieu of the HDD, but at $1800, it feels mandatory. The problem is between your graphics and CPU you're using over 50% of your budget (which is great for gaming, funny enough)
    Reply