CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
Again, one of the ways I'm mixing things up this quarter is tapping a higher-end Core i7-4770K instead of the field-proven Core i5-4670K.
While both processors sport four physical IA cores, the Core i7 benefits from Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, which allows it to schedule up to eight threads concurrently. In addition, it hosts 8 MB of shared L3 cache. That's 2 MB more than the Core i5.
Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i7-4770K (opens in new tab)
With similar clock rates compared to the Core i5-4670K (the i7 actually offers a 100 MHz-faster base and peak Turbo Boost frequency), our benchmark results should give us a clear picture of where the Core i7's strengths come into play, and where the extra cost goes to waste.
For the sake of my Day 4 judgement, I have to hope spending $320 on host processing pays off.
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Pro3
Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Z87 Pro3 (opens in new tab)
This is one of the lowest-priced motherboards available with Intel's overclocking-friendly Z87 Express Platform Controller Hub, on sale at the time of writing for $90 on Newegg.
Honestly, I don't have any experience with this board. But considering ASRock's good reputation for enthusiast-oriented value, I'm willing to give it a shot for the money I'll be saving.
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Hyper 212 EVO (opens in new tab)
Cooler Master's Hyper 212 EVO is one of the better air coolers for enthusiasts on a budget. I've used it before in the System Builder Marathon, and my results with it have always been respectable.
Currently on sale for $35, this seems like an inexpensive replacement for the heat sink and fan combo that Intel bundles with its Core i7 CPU, which I wouldn't expect to yield much overclocking headroom.