CPU, Motherboard, And Cooler
CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K
Back when we placed our order with Newegg, Intel's Core i5-4670K was a price/performance champion for PC enthusiasts. But with the arrival of Core i5-4690K and its improved thermal interface, we'll probably give that CPU a shot next time around. Both processors share the same $240 price tag, so there's no financial penalty to pay. Availability is the only barrier to overcome; even now, the -4690K isn't in stock yet.
In any case, we know the Core i5, at any given clock rate, holds its own against the Core i7 family in lightly-threaded applications. Conversely, more parallelized workloads will favor the Hyper-Threading-equipped Core i7.
We've messed with several Core i5-4670Ks, and most top out around 4.3 GHz across all four cores. I'm curious to see if this quarter's System Builder Marathon retail specimen is any different.
Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Pro3
This is one of the lowest-priced motherboards available with Intel's overclocking-friendly Z97 Express PCH. You can find it with a $100 price tag on Newegg.
ASRock's Z87 Pro3 was good to us last quarter, so we look forward to gauging whether the updated Platform Controller Hub makes any appreciable difference today.
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus is an excellent performer, and a $30 price tag makes it one of the best low-cost options for enthusiasts. Given a tight parts budget, I didn't see any other compelling competitors for less than $35, so Cooler Master's proven heat sink became an easy choice.