CPU, Graphics And Memory
CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K
I rarely get a retail CPU that doesn't overclock well, but that’s exactly what happened last quarter. We have little doubt that Intel sorts its processors to put the best cores within its highest-end SKUs, but somehow I ended up with a dud, even after buying the best LGA 1150-based processor the company sold at the time. I was almost certain to get a better CPU this time.
The reason I knew I’d get a better processor is because the factory-set clock rate for this build’s Core i7-4790K is higher than the top overclock I achieved last quarter.
The only reason I can think of that my Core i7-4770K maxed out at 4.2 GHz and 1.28 V is that Intel was already setting aside its best dies for the Core i7-4790K in advance of the new model’s release.
Graphics Card: PowerColor PCS+ AXR9 290X 4GBD5-PPDHE
Some of our readers don’t care for the PowerColor brand, and the company justified their distrust once with a batch of incorrect firmware. That move could have crossed this model off my short list had I not already bought it, and PowerColor might not have received a second chance had I not already had the card in-hand. But I’m now glad this company has a chance to redeem itself.
Quick to address the firmware issue, PowerColor proved it really would sell the same card that earned our award. That value award was based partly on better-than-reference performance, and partly on an improved temperature-to-noise ratio of its triple-fan cooler. We’re happy that the current run of cards provides the expected performance, and PowerColor even took the time to correspond publicly with those customers who had previously been affected by the bad run of parts.
Memory: 8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 8
Last quarter’s memory worked so well that I couldn’t find a good excuse to change it. This is the same G.Skill memory that I’ve used in most of my recent builds due to a relatively low price and overclocking consistency.
It does look a little different than the memory of some of those builds, but that’s only because G.Skill offers the same ICs and circuit boards at several speeds, under multiple part numbers, and with several different heat spreader styles.
Among the least-expensive of those various iterations, this Ripjaws X F3-14900CL8D-8GBXM dual-channel kit comes with a DDR3-1866 C8 rating that means it’s probably binned a little higher than the similar C9 version.