After following the installation method mentioned in its review, Noctua's NH-D14 presented a rare but recurring theme. Contact between the CPU cooler’s fan clips and a graphics card could have caused an electrical short if I’d powered-up the platform.
The protrusions are finger hooks that aid in fan installation and removal. Luckily, you only need to unhook one side of the fan in order to slide it over for removal. I used a pair of pliers to flatten this part of the clip. But be careful. Unlike mild-steel wire, the fan retainer appears to be tempered, and will likely break if bent too far.
While the top card can still be pushed over far enough to touch the cooler, that probably won’t happen when everything gets screwed down. Besides, it probably wouldn’t be a problem if the parts did touch, since the closest point is now between the GPU cooler support bracket and CPU cooler fins. That possible contact point is grounded on both sides.
Everything fits as it should, and we even have enough room to add a second front fan if needed. Since the PC-9N isn’t designed to hide cables, I turned the removable drive cage sideways and looped the extra length there.
On the other hand, Paul's single GPU was OK with 2GB. I figured we'd need a jump to 4GB with 3-way on his GPU, but 3GB on the 7970 probably would have been enough. Also, a total difference of $60 still would have fit within the budget limit, so, maybe Ivy-Bridge E and Radeons for the next build?
In order to prove what you're saying, I would have needed to search for worse-performing overpriced parts. You'll see on Day 4 that this build has the best performance of the three. So this build actually doesn't prove anything, except maybe that six core processors boost six-core benchmarks and that more graphics power gives you better frame rates at 5760x1080 (etc). But we didn't actually need any proof for those things, did we?
Tom, the future builds need to have better budget tiers. The doubling of the funds in each tier is fine in certain cases but it doesn't provide real insight into hardware choices. Having the tiers with a fixed figure increase such as a $250-400 increase in budget per tier would make more sense. Also, I would love to see the comeback of the $500 budget builds.
Lastly, what happen to the idea of themes each quarter?