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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: $1600 Enthusiast PC

CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K

Intel's Core i5 is still a top choice when it comes to nailing the price to performance ratio for gaming, and the Haswell-based -4670 is the company's newest addition in a family of sub-$250 multiplier-unlocked CPUs.

This is the same processor we put to the test in last quarter's mid-range build, so don't expect to see much difference when it comes to our productivity-oriented benchmarks.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-4670K

I'm most curious to see if this retail sample overclocks any better than the one we used last time, which capped out at 4.3 GHz and enjoyed the benefit of a closed-loop cooling system.

Motherboard: Asus Z87-Plus

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' Z87-Plus

At $160, Asus' Z87-Plus is significantly cheaper than most top-tier LGA 1150 motherboards, many of which sell for more than $200.

This board is no slouch though; it sports a solid reputation for overclocking reliably. And so I'm giving it a chance to prove itself in this quarter's System Builder Marathon.

CPU Cooler: Enermax ETS-T40

Read Customer Reviews of Enermax's ETS-T40

We saved some money by going with an affordable heat sink and fan instead of a closed-loop liquid cooler. Hopefully, in a chassis with decent airflow, this won't limit our overclocking headroom.

Enermax's ETS-T40 offers particularly good value with excellent cooling ability attributable to its large 120 mm fan and copper heat pipes, and is especially attractive thanks to a very reasonable $35 price tag.

  • Crashman
    I just wanted to let you guys know before the $2400 PC pops up, that this renewed focus on gaming is a Don and Paul effort. With $2400 on the line, it's easy to improve the entire machine and try to make a clean sweep of every benchmark :)
  • Onus
    This was a good build, if only for the single data point that was the power usage. At stock, you could get away with a good 650W PSU, but overclocked it's probably not a good idea. There weren't really any surprises anywhere else. The one pic was dark; how was cable management in that case? I used one a while back and reviewed it, and I though that was probably its weakest point.
  • Onus
    If you would like comments and assistance on a personal build, please start your own thread in the New Builds forum. This thread is for discussions about the System Builder Marathon machines. Thanks.
  • Yuka
    I have to say I'm really surprised for the crappy scaling of the GTX770s. Was it a CPU bound issue or maybe a PCIe bottleneck? Driver issue? Profile issue? haha

    I'm really surprised to say the least.

  • blubbey

    Before commenting about benches, read:

    "Keep this parting thought in mind: we're fully aware that the SBM test suite is showing its age, and we have new benchmark results with more modern games. You're going to see this surface in our Day 4 analysis from Thomas."

    Last page, last paragraph.

    Nice build, hilariously good performance in BF3, In the more modern games, will there be any GPU memory bottlenecks with triple monitor setups? We shall see!
  • lp231
    It seems these sbm have no strict budget limit. Every time these sbm articles, the budget gets higher and higher. A $1,000 enthusiast pc would be more of a real world build, since that is the maximum amount, most people spend these days on their new build.
    What will the budget be for next times enthusiast pc?
    Now it is at $1,600. So next time it will be $2,500 cause getting them 2x GTX 880 in sli is consider as a budget enthusiast pc?!
  • Steve Pound
    Who plays Skyrim on PC and not have a membership at Nexus so the most basic improvements can be made? Leading to: why has this site used the game for 2 years and not done that? Maybe FO4 will be more promising.
  • jtenorj
    If go go with an optical drive in this price range, it should be a dvd burner. It's not that much more expensive, media prices are coming down(better cost per GB and speed than dvd in some cases) and lets you play blu tay movies without using bandwitdh to download or stream hd video. My 2 cents.
  • jtenorj
    Edit: I meant blu ray burner. Also, I don't care for that case(personal preference).
  • mjmjpfaff
    It depends on which resolution you look at. I advise you to go back and look at the higher resolutions where the 770's in SLI can actually show a huge difference over one 770. It almost doubles in FPS over last quarter's build if you look at some 5760x1080 res. graphs.