Is There Such Thing As A Perfect $1600 PC?
We saw big performance gains from this quarter’s build compared to the previous machine, even though it was designed as a direct replacement with the same graphics and RAM. Intel’s higher-clocked Core i7-4790K was one of its key advantages, but we also remember that the previous build’s Core i7-4770K was from a bad batch, wouldn't overclock well at all, and served as a detriment in our final evaluation.
The chart above is one of the cleanest performance-per-dollar comparisons I've ever put together, and I can only hope that the gains made by today’s machine can help it in System Builder Marathon Day 4’s face-off between all three new systems.
Let’s not forget why I spent so much money on graphics way back in Q1, though. That machine was designed to address the complaints of gamers with money to spend. And if gaming is all you really care about, its extra cost might be money well-spent.
I personally find the $1600 machines fast enough to game at 5760x1080. I don’t use 3D displays, I don’t own a pair of 3D glasses, and I doubt that experiments with 4k displays will happen for me this year. In the end, today’s $1600 machine is the first SBM build in recent history that I can recommend almost universally to performance enthusiasts. It’s cheap enough to catch the top of the mainstream market and still fast enough to serve the needs of most high-end users. That applies to both games and applications. It’s too bad I’m forced to give this one away.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t reconsider my purchase of a giant CPU cooler though. I might not have been able to find a reasonably-priced closed-loop cooler when I spec’d this machine, but Newegg now carries several models for less than I paid for big air. Corsair’s reputable H60 is now only $65, for example, achieving a $10 savings in a cooler that will also make the system easier to move around and less likely to damage the motherboard if mishandled.
But how do I know I won’t need a bigger cooler to handle more voltage on a different CPU sample? Rated at 4.4 GHz with a single core active via Turbo Boost, the Core i7-4790K only need a 200 MHz bump to reach the 4.60 GHz clock I achieved today. My somewhat facetious experience with Haswell cores suggests that your chances of reaching 4.8 GHz at safe voltage levels are lower than your chances of meeting your own doppelganger. With so little room to play, the best reason to get a big cooler is to reduce the system’s acoustic footprint. By the way, that was 35 decibels maximum at full GPU / CPU combined load in this build. Now that you know why I’m completely happy with my Q3 effort, let’s get ready for tomorrow’s value rumble!