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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $2500 Performance PC

Overclocking

Overclocking issues plagued my last few builds, from stubborn CPUs to inadequate voltage regulators. The expanded budget of today’s configuration made it easier to add a top-binned CPU, and some readers might be surprised at how much better Asus' flagship mini-ITX board overclocks compared to Gigabyte’s full-ATX mainstream solution.

We’re looking at 4.6 GHz with no problems at all. I tried 4.7 GHz, encountered some instability, and didn’t even bother with BCLK to fight for an overclock between those two settings.

DDR3-2133 was reached with similar ease, after bumping up from the low-voltage 1.35 V standard up to a more standard 1.50 V.

The P8Z77-I Deluxe’s CPU Load Line Calibration setting of Ultra High kept my 1.30 V setting above 1.29 V through heavy loads.

My DRAM overclocking plan was to find the highest stable frequency at CAS 9. Leaving secondary and tertiary timings in automatic mode, I manually set 9-9-9-24 and 1T before altering the data rate.

MSI Afterburner is able to control both overclocks and fan slope. I lowered the temperature that'd trigger the maximum fan speed to 70° and deleted curve points to create a simple slope before increasing core clock by 130 MHz and memory frequency by 446 MHz. I also increased the card’s power limit by 35% to increase GPU Boost hold-up time.

A GPU Boost clock of 1150 MHz that sticks more often than not was the result, along with a GDDR5-6900 data rate. Anyone who likes synchronicity will love that this is a 3:2 ratio.

  • sherlockwing
    Interesting $2500 MITX build, granted most people(including me) would have built a $2500 rig around 780 SLI in a ATX case.
    Reply
  • burnley14
    This just might be my favorite SBM ever, and this particular build my favorite machine of all time. Even if the relative value is slightly lower, many people including myself are willing to pay a small premium for a smaller footprint. Well done!
    Reply
  • nvidiamd
    this is the best build on toms ever! no substandards and overkills. two thumbs up!
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    Seems I was pretty close in my initial guess:

    11002870 said:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
    CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H110 94.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE/WD Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($207.55 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($149.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($353.98 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($159.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 690 4GB Video Card ($999.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: BitFenix Prodigy (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($95.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic 660W 80 PLUS Platinum Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($148.54 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($59.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $2597.99
    Reply
  • Madn3ss795
    Assembling part reminds me of LEGO...
    Reply
  • agnickolov
    I wish the build had a 512GB SSD, but I understand the builder's value sentiment. The fast HDD is pure waste, however. A 2TB HDD can be found for under $100.
    Reply
  • sarinaide
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX.

    The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
    Reply
  • csf60
    I would take a 770 and water-cool that rig any day, but I suppose that's personal preference.
    Reply
  • sarinaide
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming, for that is there any particular reason to go with the i7 other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5 yet over a $100 been dropped on it. The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11028708 said:
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX.

    The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
    At the initialization's initiation, SFF meant "Shuttle Form Factor". The term has since been abused for everything from Micro ATX gaming cubes to book-sized PCs. Book-sized system builders would argue that Shuttle's fairly big traditional boxes aren't true SFF because they're too big, even though the term originally referred to these! If you remove the handles, this case is roughly the size of Shuttle's old 2-slot boxes (it's around 2 inches taller and 2 inches shorter in length)
    11028926 said:
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming
    Gaming only? Then when the Core i7?
    11028926 said:
    is there any particular reason to go with the i7
    Read pages 16 and 17
    11028926 said:
    other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5
    Did you see the overclocking section? Three mediocre i5's in a row and i7 leads to O/C victory, in addition to the gains on pages 16 and 17.
    11028926 said:
    The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
    Did you see a heat issue? I did not. Why would someone want to spend more money for less gaming performance? Or are you now saying that this is not a gaming PC?

    Reply