Page 1:Can A $1600 PC Really Be High-End?
Page 2:CPU, Graphics, And Memory
Page 3:Motherboard And CPU Cooling
Page 4:Power Supply, Case, And SSD
Page 5:Mass Storage, OS, And Optical Drive
Page 6:Installing Thermaltake's NiC-L32 CPU Cooler
Page 7:Completing Hardware Installation
Page 9:How We Tested Our $1600 High-End PC
Page 10:Results: 3DMark And PCMark
Page 11:Results: SiSoftware Sandra
Page 12:Results: Battlefield 4
Page 13:Results: Grid 2
Page 14:Results: Arma 3
Page 15:Results: Far Cry 3
Page 16:Results: Audio And Video Encoding
Page 17:Results: Adobe Creative Suite
Page 18:Results: Productivity
Page 19:Results: File Compression
Page 20:Power, Heat, And Efficiency
Page 21:Less Money, Lower Performance, Better Value?
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.
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.
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.
- Can A $1600 PC Really Be High-End?
- CPU, Graphics, And Memory
- Motherboard And CPU Cooling
- Power Supply, Case, And SSD
- Mass Storage, OS, And Optical Drive
- Installing Thermaltake's NiC-L32 CPU Cooler
- Completing Hardware Installation
- How We Tested Our $1600 High-End PC
- Results: 3DMark And PCMark
- Results: SiSoftware Sandra
- Results: Battlefield 4
- Results: Grid 2
- Results: Arma 3
- Results: Far Cry 3
- Results: Audio And Video Encoding
- Results: Adobe Creative Suite
- Results: Productivity
- Results: File Compression
- Power, Heat, And Efficiency
- Less Money, Lower Performance, Better Value?