How We Tested
Anyone familiar with my motherboard reviews or even my Q3 overclocking comments knows why I keep Haswell cores under 1.30 V. Longevity is why I gave up at 4.60 GHz rather than shoot for the moon at 4.7 GHz at 1.31 volts. Some enthusiasts, on the other hand, have been lucky enough to keep Haswell-based CPUs alive for extended periods at 1.35 volts, and anyone willing to saw-off a few memory fins probably isn’t worried about something so trivial.
With full specs including base height (for DRAM clearance) plus a full page of installation notes in our 2011 NH-D14 review, informed readers need not face these challenges.
|Test Hardware Configurations|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Q3 $600 Gaming PC||Q2 $1300 Enthusiast PC||Q3 $1600 Performance PC|
|Processor (Overclock)||Intel Pentium G3258: 3.20 GHz, Two Physical CoresO/C to 4.10 GHz, 1.24 V||Intel Core i7-4690K: 3.5 - 3.90 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.335 V||Intel Core i7-4790K: 4.0 - 4.40 GHz, Four Physical CoresO/C to 4.60 GHz, 1.25 V|
|Graphics (Overclock)||Sapphire R9 270: 945 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5600O/C to 1050 MHz, GDDR5-6000||Zotac GTX 770: 1202 MHz GPU, GDDR5-7200O/C to 1250 MHz, GDDR5-8000||PowerColor 290X: 1050 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5400O/C to 1082 MHz, GDDR5-5600|
|Memory (Overclock)||8 GB Team DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C to DDR3-1333 CL 7-7-7-21, 1.55 V||8 GB G.Skill DDR3-2400 CAS 10-12-12-31, XMP Defaults (1.65 V)||8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 8-9-9-24, O/C to DDR3-2400 CL 10-12-12-28, 1.6 V|
|Motherboard (Overclock)||MSI H81M-P33: LGA 1150, Intel H81 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK||ASRock Z97 Killer: LGA 1150, Intel Z97 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK||MSI Z97 Gaming 5: LGA 1150, Intel Z97 ExpressStock 100 MHz BCLK|
|Case||Rosewill Challenger||Cooler Master HAF XM||Enermax Ostrog GT|
|CPU Cooler||Intel Boxed CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D14||Phanteks PH-TC14PE 140 mm|
|Hard Drive||WD Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB SATA 6Gb/s HDD||Adata Premier Pro SP920 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD||Plextor M6S PX-256M6S 256 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD|
|Power||Antec VP-450: 450 W Non-Modular, No Efficiency Rating||In Win GreenMe 650: 650 W Non-Modular, 80 PLUS Bronze||EVGA SuperNova 750 B2: 750 W, 80 PLUS Bronze|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64|
|Graphics||AMD Catalyst 14.4||Nvidia GeForce 344.11||AMD Catalyst 14.4|
|Chipset||Intel INF 126.96.36.1997||Intel INF 188.8.131.526||Intel INF 184.108.40.2066|
|Battlefield 4||Version 220.127.116.11, DirectX 11, 100-Sec. Fraps "Tashgar" Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO|
|Grid 2||Steam Version, In-Game Test Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA|
|Metro: Last Light||Steam version, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" SceneTest Set 1: DX11, Med Quality, 4x AF, Low Blur, No SSAA, No Tesselation, No PhysXTest Set 2: DX11, High Quality, 16x AF, Normal Blur, SSAA, Tesselation Normal, No PhysX|
|Far Cry 3||V. 1.04, 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|
|Adobe Creative Suite|
|Adobe After Effects CC||Version 18.104.22.1684: Create Video that includes three streams, 210 frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously|
|Adobe Photoshop CC||Version 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates|
|Adobe Premiere Pro CC||Version 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality|
|iTunes||Version 22.214.171.124 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format|
|LAME MP3||Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)|
|HandBrake CLI||Version: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)|
|TotalCode Studio 2.5||Version: 126.96.36.19977: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV|
|ABBYY FineReader||Version 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages|
|Adobe Acrobat 11||Version 188.8.131.529: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2013||Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Blender||Version: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1|
|Visual Studio 2010||Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted|
|WinZip||Version 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"|
|WinRAR||Version 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"|
|7-Zip||Version 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"|
|Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings|
|3DMark Professional||Version: 184.108.40.206 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark|
|PCMark 8||Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks|
The first I think I'd build as an uncle-nephew project, then he and his sisters would have an excellent homework machine that would be capable of some fun too.
Either the second or third I'd mix and match with some of my own parts, but their platforms would become my new primary machine, just to update what I've got. I'd love to win any of them.
Conversely, 1600x900 and 1280x720 ARE able to run on 1920x1080 displays.
Nobody thinks you're using a 1600x900 display. 1600x900 is a backup resolution for people who want to run 1920x1080 with super-high quality, but find that their graphics card is too weak. Options for a slightly-underpowered graphics card are to set 1600x900, which looks good on a 1920x1080 display, or to use lower quality settings. If you're not geek enough to know that, you've no room to complain.
The motherboard would cost around $120 more, the CPU $50 more, and the DRAM at least $50 more to reach slightly lower overall performance rating (DDR4-2133 CAS 16, for example). The added threads would allow faster encoding and compiling times in roughly 20% of the tests, while lower clock rate would cause slower performance in nearly all the other tests. We'd probably be lucky to break even on this benchmark set, while spending more money.
Thanks for not thinking of me as a geek now go tell that to my ex-wife.
People asked us a long time ago to quit with the 2560x1600 tests because hardly anyone had 2560x1600 monitors. And our 2560x1600 monitors won't do 2560x1440, so we'd have to pay for a new "QHD" monitor in order to drop to 2560x1440 from our long-forgotten 2560x1600.
3x 1920x1080 is cheap enough for most high-end builders (I got my screen for around $120 each), and gives you the advantage of peripheral vision. Gaming is pretty cool in "Surround", a lot of guys even prefer it.