Motherboard And CPU Cooling
Motherboard: Asus Z97-A
Asus is known for stability, for overclockability, for its good tuning software, and sometimes, for premium pricing. Its Z97-A was unable to out-overclock its competition in Intel Z97 Express: Five Enthusiast Motherboards, $120 To $160, and consequently lost the value war over a $10 price difference.
Read Customer Reviews of Asus' Z97-A Motherboard
That $10 price premium is gone now though, and we’re happy to pay a lower price for a top-tier overclocking platform.
CPU Cooler: Thermaltake NiC-L32
Cooling is an extremely important part of overclocking, and I’d need an equally extreme overclock to approach the performance levels of last quarter's $2400 machine. Unfortunately, I don't have the cash for a $100 dual-fan liquid cooler or even a $80 super-sized tower this time around. The good news is that I know a little about design and the limits of Intel’s Haswell-based CPUs.
Read Customer Reviews of Thermaltake's NiC-L32 CPU Cooler
Lacking the improved thermal interface material implemented on Intel's Devil's Canyon SKUs, our Core i7-4770K realizes relatively minor temperature drops even from big changes in cooling. Compounding the issue, small voltage increases can result in large temperature spikes. Many overclockers report a 1.30 V core limit is the key to CPU longevity. My experience shows that right-sizing the cooler for this voltage level means finding something as effective as the old MUX-120 I use in motherboard comparisons.
Thermaltake’s NiC-L32 hadn’t been reviewed when I placed my order, yet none of the heat sinks I knew would work fit in my budget. Lacking any other reference point, I relied on visual analysis to find a sub-$60 cooler that looked like it might serve my purpose.
was multicore enhancement enabled for both the q1 $1600(asrock z87 pro3) and this quarter's high end pc(asus z97-a)? did it affect the heat output? asus keeps m.c.e. enabled by default. i can't see any other factors atm.
all 3 builds look very well-performing this quarter. looking forward to the perf-value analysis.
The last time I checked the "Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE250BW" wasn't an HDD, and nobody wanted us to run OS/2 on a modern gaming system. Please read the charts, wabba
I would go with 16 GB of memory for $85 more, since that’s only $85/$1600=5% more cost. I’d also go ahead and get the Asus 780 for $520. (Side note: I disagree that most would go AMD in a 780 vs 290x, but I know better than to open that can of worms). SLI was mentioned but not used, and I also would not get SLI unless I KNEW it worked with the game I was most interested in. The posts on various forums about SLI causing problems in most games, along with SLI “issues” dating back to 3dFX Voodoo2 cards, keeps me away from SLI.
I also would stay away from “generally stable, but usually not stable in the games I want to play most” (not quoting the author here) overclocking of the system/video card. It’s nice to see it in the charts, but I read about way too many problems in games caused by overclocking for me to rely on it to get my ‘value’.
Lastly, I think the pendulum has swung too far towards “value” for the high end build. I suggest tweaking that a little for future high end builds (eg..780Ti, 16 GB memory, 500GB SSD, but continue to stay away from $1000 CPU, $1200 SLI, etc).