System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: Mainstream Enthusiast PC

How We Tested

The following tables include the stock and overclocked settings for this quarter's mainstream enthusiast system, followed by the configuration we put together earlier this year, which serves as our comparison point.

At the very bottom, you’ll find the programs and games used for benchmarking.

Q1 2015 Enthusiast PC Test Settings: $1074 of Performance Hardware

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Default ConfigurationOverclocked
MotherboardMSI Z97 PC Mate, LGA 1150, Intel Z97 ExpressN/A
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4790K (Haswell): 4GHz, 8MB Shared L3 Cache4.5GHz @ 1.28V
Memory8GB G.Skill Ares (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133, F3-2133C9D-8GAB 1600 MT/s, CAS 11-11-11-28 1T2133 MT/s,CAS 9-10-11-28 2T
GraphicsAsus Strix GeForce GTX 970 256-bit 4GB GDDR5, 1216MHz GPU Boost, GDDR5-70121416MHz GPU Boost,GDDR5-7812, 120% Power
System DrivePNY Optima 240GB Solid State Drive (SSD)Unchanged
Storage DriveWestern Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1TBUnchanged
OpticalPioneer Black Blu-ray BDC-207DBK OEMUnchanged
CaseCooler Master HAF XB Evo Computer CaseUnchanged
PowerEVGA 600B 80 PLUS Bronze PSUUnchanged

Q3 2014 Enthusiast PC Test Settings: $1006 of Performance Hardware

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Default ConfigurationOverclocked
MotherboardASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer, LGA 1150, Intel Z97 ExpressUnchanged
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4690K (Haswell): 3.5GHz (3.9GHz Turbo Boost), 6MB Shared L3 Cache4.6GHz (46 * 100MHz), 1.335V (Load)
Memory8GB G.Skill Trident (2 x 4GB) F3-2400C10D-8GTD, 1600 MT/s, CAS 11-11-11-28 1T2400 MT/s, 10-12-12-31 2T, 1.65V
GraphicsZotac AMP! Superclocked GeForce GTX 770 2GB, 1150/1202MHz base/typical GPU Boost, GDDR5-7200+30MHz GPU, GDDR5-7800
System DriveAdata Premier Pro SP920 128GB SATA 6Gb/s SSDUnchanged
Storage DriveWD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB, 7200 RPM, 64MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/sUnchanged
OpticalAsus DRW-24B1ST OEM DVD BurnerUnchanged
CaseCooler Master HAF XM Computer CaseUnchanged
PowerIn Win GreenMe 650W 80 PLUS Bronze PSUUnchanged

Benchmark Details

Swipe to scroll horizontally
3D Games
Arma 3V. 1.20 Current PC, V.1.08 Q1 PC 30-sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase" Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Battlefield 4Version, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Far Cry 3V. 1.05, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO AMD/ HBAO NVidia
Grid 2Version, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99, Video: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version:, MPEG2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1kHz, Two-channel, 16-bit, 224Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion Create Video, 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6Version, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat XIVersion 11.0.0: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encyption
ABBYY FineReaderVersion Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion 2.68a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3GB)
WinRARVersion 5.0, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3GB)
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r" Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark ProfessionalVersion:, Fire Strike Standard and Extreme
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64 Full Test
SiSoftware Sandra 2014Version: 2014.02.20.10, Processor Arithmetic, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
  • hausman
  • Grognak
    Your builds are getting more and more expensive.
  • tom10167
    Looks pretty good but get a Black Series for $20 more
  • g-unit1111
    Honestly I would go optical drive less and get a H440 or something similar. Was it a requirement to spend $50 on the blu-ray burner?
  • damric
    Dear God, why another junk Compucase PSU?

    And why a PNY SSD? Save the packaging for that. You will need it for RMA.

    With a budget that large there is no room for parts with high failure rates.
  • de5_Roy
    nice build. my only nitpick is about the motherboard. would choosing a xeon e3 12xx v3 have led to better mobo and/or gfx card and/or psu?
  • cknobman
    Waiting for the day one of you SBM folks take your panties off and skips the optical drive.

    We have reached the day and age where optical drives are really not necessary and just eat into budget for more useful things.
  • des99
    how does the math add up?
    $925 Performace hardware +
    $240 case, os and optical $240
  • pepsimtl
    I think cpu I5 K whill do the same job for gamer and least expensive :)
    This motherboard color is so ugly ( same color 1985 pc ) and all the component except for memory . Just look inside the computer depress me
  • Onus
    Given the power numbers (which I think you know enough to have anticipated), even a 450W Rosewill Capstone would have sufficed. I just don't see an EVGA "B" series making it into an enthusiast build; ever.
    I also really don't like seeing 1.65V RAM. Perhaps 1.6V, but allowing for how different motherboards may tweak RAM for stability, already running at 1.65V seems like more of a risk to the Intel IMC than is worthwhile. I'd really prefer to keep at the standard 1.5V.