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System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Mainstream Enthusiast PC

Conclusion

We put together our previous SBM build before the GeForce GTX 970 was available for sale, and it's something of a no-brainer that it made it into our final midrange build of 2014. While it is disappointing that we weren't able to provide overclocked results out of the gate, let's see what story the stock results can tell us:

Aside from application performance, the new build bests the previous (and more-expensive) system builder marathon midrange enthusiast machine. This is thanks to the GeForce GTX 970, a card that we called out for being a game changer at the sub-$350 price range on its introduction. Here's some validation of that:

A closer inspection of gaming performance at 1920x1080 and triple-monitor 4800x900 shows just how much the GeForce GTX 970 brings to the table. Even at stock clocks, the new build doesn't need any help trumping the GeForce GTX 770-equipped overclocked machine.

Despite our lack of overclocked results on the new hardware, it will be interesting to see how the stock results compare to Paul Henningsen's budget PC efforts along with Thomas Soderstrom's high-end entry in our wrap-up article, which will be posted on Tom's Hardware over the next few days. Keep a close eye on our site over the holidays!

  • envy14tpe
    You got the wrong GPU listed in the build. It is a 970 not 770. I'm referring to the Q4 build parts list. It should be the Zotac 970 4GB.

    Other than that. Build looks decent.

    : Thanks for the heads up, fixed! :)
    Reply
  • rush21hit
    It's just perfect for 1k budget build. If I have such budget, I would gone to different casing though. Did you know Lian Li had just released their new casing that look sick awesome? They make it wall mountable too. I would go with that.
    Reply
  • rayden54
    Does anyone ever recommend a Zotac GPU?
    Reply
  • SessouXFX
    It's rare for reviewers to recommend a Zotac, At least from what I've seen, it's because just as things start to look good, Zotac make some questionable decisions with their cards. otherwise, they're quite affordable and are usually better than reference.
    Reply
  • BoredSysAdmin
    "In this last system builder marathon of 2015"
    Did I just lost a whole year?

    Derp, fixed! :P
    Reply
  • VaporX
    Okay so I looked over this build and honestly I was a bit disappointed because for the price you could have done better. Going to Newegg I got the following.

    i5 4690K with Gigabyte Z97MX Gaming, same ID cooler listed above, 8 Gig Crucial (1660) RAM, 240 Gig Crucial MX100, Thermaltake Core V21 Case, Thermaltake Smart 550 watt PSU, Sapphire Tri-X 290 and Windows 8.1 all for $1056.

    So I lost the optical drive, no real lose there, some HD space (learn not to hoard) gained better onbaord sound, a large GPU performance bump and the speed advanateg of a pure SSD set.

    IMO a much nicer gamer rig.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    14906749 said:
    Okay so I looked over this build and honestly I was a bit disappointed because for the price you could have done better. Going to Newegg I got the following.

    i5 4690K with Gigabyte Z97MX Gaming, same ID cooler listed above, 8 Gig Crucial (1660) RAM, 240 Gig Crucial MX100, Thermaltake Core V21 Case, Thermaltake Smart 550 watt PSU, Sapphire Tri-X 290 and Windows 8.1 all for $1056.

    So I lost the optical drive, no real lose there, some HD space (learn not to hoard) gained better onbaord sound, a large GPU performance bump and the speed advanateg of a pure SSD set.

    IMO a much nicer gamer rig.

    They built this probably 3 weeks ago...so prices change.
    Reply
  • Scorpionking20
    I got 2 of those exact gpus...sent them back due to hardware crashes and coil whine. Replaced them with 2 evga 970's and I couldn't be happier. Never again Zotac!
    Reply
  • Onus
    I think the build is good. I'm going to guess that the budget cooler isn't going to support a high overclock, but that wouldn't matter to me, since I don't use +voltage to OC.
    I'm not going to quibble over the choice of Zotac. I've read mixed reviews of them. It isn't an obvious choice to me like MSI or Gigabyte, but it isn't one to avoid either like Diamond.
    I'm disappointed that the OC numbers weren't included; maybe this build could have been presented "out of sequence" after troubleshooting?
    I'd love to win this one; it is very much like something I'd build.
    Reply
  • the1kingbob
    ID Cooling SE-213 Has three heat pipes, not four
    Reply