System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: The $2400 People’s Choice PC

CPU And Motherboard Cooling

Processors based on Intel's Haswell architecture can be much more difficult to cool than Ivy Bridge-E. Meanwhile, the Haswell design need less absolute cooling capacity than Ivy Bridge-E. Those two apparently-conflicting statements can be justified by the observation that the lower-power Haswell-based chips respond poorly to increased cooling capacity.

CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme

Given the above observations, it appears that anything larger than a 120 mm single-fan cooling tower wastes money. On the other hand, choosing anything smaller than the cooler from my previous build would open me up to criticism if today's setup didn't overclock well. I wanted to play this one safe.

Read Customer Reviews of Thermaltake's Water 2.0 Extreme (opens in new tab)

Overclocked Haswell cores are so temperamental that a mere 3 °C drop in temperature can add 100 MHz to a stable configuration. Because of the CPU’s heat transfer problems, that’s about all I expect from Thermaltake’s huge, award-winning Water 2.0 Extreme.

Motherboard Cooling: Antec SpotCool 80

Anyone who thinks that $95 is too much to spend to cool a heat-soaked CPU will be incensed to hear that the expense doesn’t end there. Most motherboards are designed to cool the CPU voltage regulator using exhaust from the CPU cooler, and the fans on a liquid cooler's radiator don’t point in that direction.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's SpotCool 80 (opens in new tab)

Designed to cool nearly any component, Antec’s SpotCool is the perfect add-on voltage regulator fan for motherboards that weren’t designed to accept a fan. I always keep one of these on-hand for liquid-cooling predicaments, but decided to actually include it in my order this time.

The need for a voltage regulator fan emerges at moderately increased CPU voltage. If the CPU isn’t able to support moderate voltage increases before crossing its own thermal threshold, then I’ve wasted money.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Darkerson
    Interesting move, showing the nicest build 1st instead of last. Cant wait to see all the builds compared and see what you all come up with as the budget goes down.
    Reply
  • captain_jonno
    Looks good. Surprised only went with a 750w PSU though. Considering 2x 780 ti's and overlocking
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12951919 said:
    Looks good. Surprised only went with a 750w PSU though. Considering 2x 780 ti's and overlocking
    Yessir, two 780s and a bit of experience in part picking lead me to expect around 700W of required system power. And, it came out just a little less than 700W.

    Power supplies of greater capacity and similar reliability at this price tend to be lower-efficiency units. And we like efficiency too.

    Reply
  • YellowBee
    I dont get the "W" usage?680+237 = 917w. Not 802w as meation above?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12952008 said:
    I dont get the "W" usage?680+237 = 917w. Not 802w as meation above?
    It's not calculated power, it's measured power for the entire system (at the power plug). No addition or subtraction was used.

    1.) Start the system, wait for all processes to load, take a measurement (Active, but idle)
    2.) Load the CPU using eight thread of AVX-optimized Prime95, take a reading (CPU Load).
    3.) Load GPUs with 3DMark 11 Test 1 in loop, take max reading as it heats up (GPU Load).
    4.) Load both applications (CPU+GPU Load).

    The "math problem" is that any program used to fully load the GPU also partly loads the CPU. So when test 4 is Prime95+3DMark, Prime95 can only use whatever CPU resources are left with 3DMark running.

    So the most accurate system power reading is with "CPU+GPU Load" applied. The system measurement for "CPU Load" still includes the power of an idle GPU. And the system power measurement for "GPU Load" still includes the amount of CPU energy it takes to run the GPU's test application.
    Reply
  • YellowBee
    12952046 said:
    12952008 said:
    I dont get the "W" usage?680+237 = 917w. Not 802w as meation above?
    It's not a calculation, it's a reading for the entire system (at the power plug). Load the CPU using eight thread of AVX-optimized Prime95, take reading one. Load GPUs with 3DMark 11 Test 1 in loop, take max reading as it heats up.

    The "math problem" is that any program used to fully load the GPU also partly loads the CPU. So when test 3 is Prime95+3DMark, Prime95 can only use whatever CPU resources are left with 3DMark running.

    So the most accurate system power reading is with "CPU+GPU Load" applied. The system measurement for "CPU Load" still includes the reading of an idle GPU. And the system power measurement for "GPU Load" still includes the amount of CPU power it takes to run the GPU.

    Very much appreciated and satisfying answer.
    Thanks Crashman :)
    Reply
  • bemused_fred
    12952008 said:
    I dont get the "W" usage?680+237 = 917w. Not 802w as meation above?
    It's not calculated power, it's measured power for the entire system (at the power plug). No addition or subtraction was used.1.) Start the system, wait for all processes to load, take a measurement (Active, but idle)2.) Load the CPU using eight thread of AVX-optimized Prime95, take a reading (CPU Load).3.) Load GPUs with 3DMark 11 Test 1 in loop, take max reading as it heats up (GPU Load).4.) Load both applications (CPU+GPU Load).The "math problem" is that any program used to fully load the GPU also partly loads the CPU. So when test 4 is Prime95+3DMark, Prime95 can only use whatever CPU resources are left with 3DMark running.So the most accurate system power reading is with "CPU+GPU Load" applied. The system measurement for "CPU Load" still includes the power of an idle GPU. And the system power measurement for "GPU Load" still includes the amount of CPU energy it takes to run the GPU's test application.
    Any chance of including these calculations in all future articles, so that we know exactly how the power graph is calculated? Ta.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12952271 said:
    12952046 said:
    It's not calculated power, it's measured power for the entire system
    Any chance of including these calculations in all future articles, so that we know exactly how the power graph is calculated? Ta.
    Which calculations?

    Reply
  • jabuscus
    wow. such performance. many ram. they should've put in 16gb of ram for real high-end specs. ;)
    Reply
  • Versutia
    As I'm into quiet enclosures, I'd go along this route:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3fuGw

    Wondering how much of a difference would non-reference cards make. Obviously, CPU cooler and RAM could be different, BR drive optional, storage drive as well.
    Reply