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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: Our Enthusiast PC

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.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's Core i5-4670K

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

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's 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

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's 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.

  • BilinearCheese
    I have to say guys, that enthusiast level build is terrible. Apevia case? Turbo Duo 290? NO SSD? Come on. For 16 bucks less I put together a system WITH an SSD, a decent case, a much better 290, and a better motherboard/cpu cooler. Hell, I even managed to get a color scheme together for it as well:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/FRyNgs


    "Terrible" = same CPU, cooler, graphics card, and equal benchmark performance?

    The case we chose really doesn't matter, as the first page of article points out. Case/optical drive is completely subjective. That's exactly why we've separated the performance parts price from case/optical/OS.
    By the way, are you just assuming Apevia its bad because you prefer other well-known brands? It did a fantastic job for the purposes of this article, so other than brand, what's your issue with it? Is brand the same problem you have with the 290? Because it's cooler is quite good.
    Speaking of coolers, the Hyper 212 EVO is virtually the 212 plus with a different fan. Is this really the huge difference you're implying it is?

    You're also specing it out two months after we did, with lower prices. An SSD would have been great, but two months ago when we ordered there was no room in the budget, and we weren't willing to sacrifice the 290.

    Bottom line, you're being a little sensationalist about picking nits.
    Reply
  • itzsnypah
    When overclocking the CPU are you leaving the uncore coupled to the core multiplier or uncoupled and set at x34/36? You averaging nearly 1.3v for only 4.3Ghz is very poor.
    Reply
  • I have to question the need for Z97 mobo. If you go with the Haswell and not the Haswell update and you do not include M.2 SSD, then why go with Z97? If you are choosing the Z97 to have a upgrade path, you should also go for the Devil's Canyon cpu. Budget-wise it is a really bad idea to even think about going for D.C. Haswell chip later on.

    The ssd gives you an easily felt sensation of speed every time you boot. Just got an ssd myself like 2 months ago. Any other go-fast parts come secondary. Ditch the Z97 and the ODD and you could squeeze in a SSD.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.
    Reply
  • BilinearCheese
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.

    How is this the best suggested build for the money if you're only locking it to one retailer? That's...kinda silly
    Reply
  • Crashman
    @BilinearCheese. I believe all parts for these toms' builds have to be from Newegg. So, try building that way.

    How is this the best suggested build for the money if you're only locking it to one retailer? That's...kinda silly
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p

    No one will ever question your parts selection ever again!! Maybe add a side note on price page that all parts are from/ must be bought on Newegg.
    Reply
  • BilinearCheese
    Because if we get all our parts from Newegg, it's Newegg's money? Because, when Newegg pays for the parts, we can afford to give the entire systems away?
    :p

    All newegg, still cheaper with better components:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/pj7bCJ

    What's the next rule, no rebates?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    All newegg, still cheaper with better components:

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/pj7bCJ

    What's the next rule, no rebates?

    No mail-in rebates because they usually disappear before we can publish and, because when you have $100 you can't buy a $149 part that has a $50 MIR :)

    Instant rebates and sales are fine because when the discount on one part disappears, the discount on another part appears.

    BTW, I like the look of your case. I never understood what the deal was with don and ugly cases, but he's Canadian so I know better than to ask.
    Reply
  • BilinearCheese
    No mail-in rebates because they usually disappear before we can publish and, because when you have $100 you can't buy a $149 part that has a $50 MIR :)

    Instant rebates and sales are fine because when the discount on one part disappears, the discount on another part appears.

    Even with that in mind, my second build without rebates totals 1178. Changing the motherboard to a z87 Extreme3 (because z97 isn't a benefit if you're not going for haswell refresh or an ssd) and it's 3 bucks more than the build listed.
    Reply