Taking The SBM Down A Different Road
System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
Day 1: The $2400 Reader's Choice PC
Day 2: Our New Enthusiast PC
Day 3: The $750 Gaming PC
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
We've been doing these System Builder Marathons on a quarterly basis for years. The premise is typically pretty similar, but we try to fold in variance whenever we can to keep the relationship spicy. This time around, we're switching things up a bit, largely based on your feedback, to hopefully improve our value analysis. We're focusing specifically on the prices of components that affect performance, leaving the parts that don't impact benchmark results out of the equation. In the final analysis, this means that the case, optical drive, and operating system have no bearing on price/performance (though we still list those prices for your reference).
In this way, we're freeing ourselves to experiment with more premium enclosures and include add-ons like Blu-ray drives without the negative impact on comparative value. You all know that it's possible to get by with a $40 case and $20 DVD writer, but now we can choose higher-end options more appropriate to our go-fast parts without hammering our critical analysis of the internals.
With that in mind, I went a different direction with this quarter's enthusiast-oriented build, opting for a Core i7-4770K processor (rather than a more budget-friendly Core i5) and single GeForce GTX 780 Ti (instead of dual GeForce GTX 770s in SLI).
|Enthusiast System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z87 Pro3, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express||$90|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4770K: 3.5 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.9 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache||$320|
|Heat Sink||Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO with 120 mm PWM Fan||$35|
|Memory||8 GB Corsair Vengeance LP (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1866 Model CML8GX3M2A1866C9B||$103|
|Graphics||Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3 GB GDDR5||$660|
|System Drive||Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE120BW 2.5" 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD||$90|
|Storage Drive||Western Digital Black WD5003AZEX 500 GB 7200 RPM, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s||$71|
|Power||Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 650 W 80 PLUS Bronze PSU||$90|
|Cost Of Components That Impact Performance||$1459|
|Case||NZXT Phantom 410 Series Orange Trim Computer Case||$100|
|Optical||LG Black WH14NS40, 4 MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray Burner, OEM||$54|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit, OEM||$100|
|Total Cost of System as Tested:||$1713|
Armed with $1459 worth of parts that directly affect performance, the new build is surprisingly cheaper than last quarter's enthusiast-oriented configuration, which leveraged $1528 of gear to make it a gaming beast.
You could make it out the door for as little as $1519 if you purchased all of my platform parts, a $40 case, and a $20 DVD burner. I went with a more premium chassis and a Blu-ray writer, though, taking the total cost to $1713 (including a copy of Windows 8 for $100).
(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.