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System Builder Marathon Q3 2014: Mainstream Enthusiast PC

CPU, Motherboard And Cooler

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K

The new Devil's Canyon-based Core i5-4690K essentially replaces the Core i5-4670K that we selected for the mid-range enthusiast build in our last SBM machine. To be honest, the -4690K isn't a colossal upgrade compared to its predecessor, offering a mere 100 MHz clock rate jump and better thermal interface material under the heat spreader.

Then again, when you're after a peak overclock, every little bit counts. Hopefully, Intel's enhancements allow the -4690K to differentiate itself from the first-generation Haswell-based quad-core processor it displaces. We paid $240 for that chip last quarter, and the same amount this time around.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-4690K

In most of our testing, we've seen the Core i5-4670K top out in the 4.3 GHz range after small voltage increases and multiplier adjustments. I'm willing to get a little more involved than that to push the Core i5-4690K further.

Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's Fatl1ty Z97 Killer

With a significant share of the budget dedicated to the CPU cooler and RAM, I also needed a motherboard that'd help complement my overclocking effort. ASRock's Fatal1ty Z97 Killer might be just what I need.

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14

Read Customer Reviews of Noctua's NH-D14

Noctua has an excellent reputation as a manufacturer of premium CPU coolers, and its NH-D14 exemplifies why. Sporting two 120 mm fans and capable of rivaling many closed-loop liquid cooling systems, this is a popular choice for fans of big air.

Of course, the $79 price tag is somewhat daunting, and my pictures do not fully convey the heat sink's immense bulk. But then again, nobody said optimizing performance was cheap or easy.