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System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: Our New Enthusiast PC

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.

  • envy14tpe
    Why a Galaxy GPU considering the company pulled out of US market? btw, nice work on the build.
    Reply
  • bemused_fred
    I wish more builds would account for the cost of the OS. It can be a significant expense, especially when you're working with builds of $600 or less.
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    770 sli also nets better performance when gaming on 120/144hz monitors
    Reply
  • Dark Oopa
    wow, I didn't think there would be such a little difference in gaming.In fact, the difference is so small that with all the inherent problems of the SLI, the new rig is always the better choice.
    Reply
  • redgarl
    Multi-gpu problems are always overly exagerated. I am using multi-gpu platforms for almost 5 years and the gain in fps over the UNOTICEABLE and overly exagerated stutering sweep away any disavantages.Folks, don't lure yourself, higher resolution demand multi-gpus. Single card is fine for anything around 1080p, more or less, but at 4K or 3 1080p monitors... your system is going to choke even with a 780 ti.
    Reply
  • npyrhone
    Having 1600x900 resolution in the gaming charts serves only one purpose: to create the impression that there is not really a difference between the two builds, while in reality the later one is obviously inferior to the previous one.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    It's a shame to completely remove the non-core components from the competition, but I understand why it's done here. A couple of ideas to throw out there:

    (1) You could include temperatures and acoustics performance in the overall assessment, given I think that is a big part of the case buying decision, and
    (2) A way to factor in the intangibles (i.e. blu ray vs dvd, choice of SSD/HDD, etc), you could include a separate vote between this quarter's and last quarter's to see what the readers would choose for the best build given all the performance factors, aesthetics, and other components that do not contribute directly to performance. The reader's vote of this quarter vs. last quarter and/or an overall value winner for this quarter could be included in the final write-up.

    I would also 2nd the vote for starting 4K testing. And also, why not 1440p? It seems those two resolutions are more relevant now in 2014 at the level of this competition than 1600x900 and 4800x900 resolutions.
    Reply
  • DarkSable
    I'm sorry, Tom's, but...You really need to stop misinforming the general public who comes here for your articles and doesn't read the forums in depth.You go with an i7 for the "performance benefits," which are nonexistent for gaming... except that this rig is aimed at gaming. I would have much, much rather seen an i5, with a note explaining that an i7 is a good upgrade if you're doing these sorts of things, but isn't helpful if you're building a gaming computer.There are wayyyy too many new builders out there who think that the i7 is better than the i5 and who are just wasting their money, and you aren't helping them or correcting that misinformation - rather, you're just reinforcing it further.
    Reply
  • nekromobo
    I would really like to see mATX and mini-itx versions of this article, pretty please :)
    Reply
  • vertexx
    12959893 said:
    I'm sorry, Tom's, but...You really need to stop misinforming the general public who comes here for your articles and doesn't read the forums in depth.You go with an i7 for the "performance benefits," which are nonexistent for gaming... except that this rig is aimed at gaming. I would have much, much rather seen an i5, with a note explaining that an i7 is a good upgrade if you're doing these sorts of things, but isn't helpful if you're building a gaming computer.There are wayyyy too many new builders out there who think that the i7 is better than the i5 and who are just wasting their money, and you aren't helping them or correcting that misinformation - rather, you're just reinforcing it further.
    Hmm.... What percentage of the performance measures in this article are for gaming?
    Reply