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System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: Our New Enthusiast PC

System Assembly And Overclocking

Although I've seen NZXT's Phantom featured here and elsewhere a number of times, I've never actually used one in a build until today. It's a very accommodating and spacious enclosure to work in, and easy on the eyes (particularly after the bargains I'm used to rooting out for this series). I'm not a fan of the overcomplicated hard drive mounting pegs. Also, the rubber grommets that hide cable routing are too loose, and are easily dislodged during the build process. Those are minor inconveniences, though.

My build process went smoothly, and I don't really have any solid complaints to register. Everything fit nicely, and I'm bereft of horror stories to tell about fitment, scraped knuckles, or mysterious boot issues. That makes for boring reading, but it's good in the end.

Overclocking

Like most Haswell-based CPUs, this one capped out in the 4.5 GHz range. My maximum stable overclock ended up being 4.4 GHz at 1.2 V before I started running into thermal throttling. Compared to last quarter's Core i5-4670K, that's an extra 100 MHz.

Despite my high-performance memory, the system defaulted to 1333 MT/s at 9-9-9-24 1T timings, which really hurt some of the stock benchmark results. As usual, I triggered the XMP setting to hit 1866 MT/s at 9-10-9-27 2T for my overclocked results, choosing not to pursue more aggressive data rates.

The budget-oriented ASRock board stepped up to deliver the functionality expected from pricier Z87-based options. It was perfectly stable, also.

Galaxy's GeForce GTX 780 Ti was limited by its power envelope, not by stability issues. Therefore, I maintained voltage at its stock setting and dialed back my memory overclock to yield as much headroom as possible to the GPU. This helped a little in the benchmark results. I set MSI's Afterburner tool to its maximum 106% power setting, and then dialed in 150 MHz core and 100 MHz (400 MT/s) memory overclocks. The fan speed was also ramped up just to be sure thermals were limiting the performance ceiling.