How We Test
We picked our primary components (the CPU, graphics, and DRAM) based primarily upon a balance of performance and price. Intel’s Core i3-8350K offers four cores at 4GHz, and the fact that it’s unlocked hasn’t escaped us: Even though it’s unlikely that anyone will crack one of these locked platforms, we’d hate to be stuck with a locked processor if they did.
We also chose the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for its performance-to-price ratio. The two-fan cooler of MSI’s Gaming X version gives us reduced noise while still fitting within two slots.
Having pushed this article’s budget close to its limit, we decided to stick with RAM we have on-hand. G.Skill’s recently-reviewed Ripjaws V 3200 barely carries any pricing premium, could allow overclocking if anyone were to unlock a similar platform, and kept us within budget. Our CPU supports DDR4-2400 at both 9x 133MHz and 12x 100MHz settings, and if anyone ever figures out how to fool a system into using the higher 12x multiplier with the higher 133MHz base clock, the resulting 1600MHz frequency would get us to DDR4-3200.
The Core i3-8350k does not include a cooler, and we understand that most buyers will be looking for one priced between $20 and $40. While it’s possible to find a $40 cooler that performs as well as our old Noctua NH-U12S, the reason we retained it is that it was already in-hand. As with any build, reusing old components where possible is the best way to save money!
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Graphics Driver||GeForce 382.53|
We’re comparing today’s samples to the most-average Z370 Mini-ITX motherboard we could find. Since “most average” is not exactly a compliment, we’re giving it the title “Reference Data” in our charts.
|Synthetic Benchmarks & Settings|
|PCMark 8||Version 2.7.613 Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)|
|3DMark 13||Version 4.47.597.0 Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version 2016.03.22.21 CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth|
|DiskSPD||4k Random Read, 4k Random Write 128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write|
|Cinebench R15||Build RC83328DEMO OpenGL Benchmark|
|CompuBench||Version 1.5.8 Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing|
|Application Tests & Settings|
|LAME MP3||Version 3.98.3 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)|
|HandBrake CLI||Version: 0.9.9 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4|
|Blender||Version 2.68a BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark|
|7-Zip||Version 16.02 THG-Workload (7.6GB) to .7z, command-line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"|
|Adobe After Effects CC||Release 2015.3.0, Version 18.104.22.168 PCMark-driven routine|
|Adobe Photoshop CC||Release 2015.5.0. 20160603.r.88 x64 PCMark-driven routine (light and heavy)|
|Adobe InDesign CC||Release 2015.4, Build 22.214.171.124 x64 PCMark-driven routine|
|Adobe Illustrator||Release 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit) PCMark-driven routine|
|Game Tests & Settings|
|Ashes of the Singularity||Version 1.31.21360 High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 1920x1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA|
|F1 2015||2015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain Medium Preset, No AF Ultra High Preset, 16x AF|
|Metro Last Light Redux||Version 3.00 x64 High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation, 16x AF Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF|
|The Talos Principle||Version 267252 Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF Ultra Preset, Very High Quality, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF|