Let's Get That Enthusiast PC Price Down A Notch
System Builder Marathon, Q2 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!
As you may have read yesterday in Paul's introductory piece, we're doing things a little differently in the System Builder Marathon. Our approach to pricing is changing, largely based on your feedback, to improve our analysis of value. First, 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. This means that the case, optical drive, and operating system have no bearing on our price/performance calculations. We call this the "Price of Performance Hardware". 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 that these subjectively-selected components have on comparative value. Some of our readers are happy with a $20 DVD burner and $40 case, while others feel that a $200 Blu-ray drive and $150 enclosure are necessities. We get that.
Of course, we will continue to provide the total price of all components, now including the operating system, in a final "Price As Tested". With this information, in addition to the "Price of Performance Hardware", we hope to address everyone's concerns and paint a clearer picture with our value discourse, while acknowledging the personal nature of cases, optical drives, and even the OS.
Last quarter, my enthusiast-oriented build included a Core i7-4770K processor and GeForce GTX 780 Ti. That was a potent, high-end combination of parts, which contributed to an almost-$1500 price tag on the performance-oriented parts alone. This time around, I'm shooting for something competitive without spending as much money. Is such a feat even possible with $950 to spend on go-fast gear?
|Enthusiast System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z97 Pro3, LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express||$100|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4670K: 3.4 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.8 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache||$240|
|Heat Sink||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus||$30|
|Memory||8 GB Team Group Vulcan (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 TLYD38G1600HC9DC01||$66|
|Graphics||PowerColor TurboDuo Radeon R9 290 4 GB||$400|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB||$60|
|Power||Corsair CX Series CX750 750 W 80 PLUS Bronze PSU||$90|
|Price of Performance Hardware||$986|
|Case||Apevia X-Hermes Red Trim Computer Case||$60|
|Optical||LG Internal Super Multi Drive GH24NSB0||$20|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit, OEM||$100|
|Price As Tested||$1166|
Notice that my $986 performance parts list lands $36 over the $950 target. That's mostly because PowerColor's TurboDuo Radeon R9 290 went from $380 back when we ordered it up to $480, and then back down to $430. But even this price is temporary. It includes a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO through the end of the month, after which we're told it'll settle down at $400 for the card on its own. The end of June is a few days away, so we're using $400 as our official valuation.
I settled for Intel's venerable Core i5-4670K to save some cash compared to the Core i7-4770K from last quarter. Additionally, the SSD is gone. That was the only way for me to squeeze in under $950. Solid-state storage doesn't affect our benchmarks much, but my decision will still undoubtedly cause some controversy. Indeed, I was reminded how long it takes to boot from a mechanical disk, and I didn't like it. You may wish to sacrifice some graphics performance in your own build to accommodate an SSD. Or, snag the PowerColor card immediately for an extra $30 and get the 840 EVO as part of your bundle.