Page 1:Changing Focus For A Look At Processor Performance
Page 2:CPU, Motherboard And Cooler
Page 3:Graphics Card, Power Supply And Case
Page 4:Memory, Hard Drives And Optical Storage
Page 5:Building And Overclocking
Page 6:How We Tested
Page 7:Results: Synthetics
Page 8:Results: Media Transcoding
Page 9:Results: Rendering And Productivity
Page 10:Results: Adobe Creative Cloud
Page 11:Results: Compression Tools
Page 12:Results: Battlefield 4 And Arma 3
Page 13:Results: Grid 2 And Far Cry 3
Page 14:Power And Temperature
Page 15:Q3 2014 Mainstream Enthusiast PC Under $1300 Verdict
System Builder Marathon, Q3 2014: The Articles
Here are links to each of the four articles in this quarter’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published). And remember, these systems are all being given away at the end of the marathon.
To enter the giveaway, please fill out this SurveyGizmo form, and be sure to read the complete rules before entering!
Day 1: The Budget Gaming PC
Day 2: Our Mainstream Enthusiast System
Day 3: The $1600 High-End Build
Day 4: Performance And Value, Dissected
This quarter, I decided to give my inner enthusiast a workout and focus on overclocking. A $950 hardware budget for performance-oriented parts didn't exactly leave me with the financial headroom to buy an open-loop liquid cooler though, so I had to pick my battles. Where should I allocate the majority of my funds, the CPU or GPU? In the interest of benefiting as much of the platform as possible, I went with the host processor. That also gives us the opportunity to see what a step up from Paul's Pentium G3258 can do in Intel's Core i5-4690K, benefiting from the Devil's Canyon improvements.
The last time around, my enthusiast-oriented build centered on a Core i5-4670K processor and Radeon R9 290 graphics card. That's a tried-and-true combo. And while I'm confident I could push the platform to the next level with a high-end CPU cooler and premium memory, it'd be difficult to live up to my previous effort after shifting focus to maximizing the platform.
Unfortunately, the new GeForce GTX 970 was not yet available when we ordered the parts for this build.
|Enthusiast System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer, LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express||$125|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4690K: 3.5 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.9 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache||$240|
|Heat Sink||Noctua DH-14||$79|
|Memory||8 GB G.Skill Trident (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-2400 F3-2400C10D-8GTD||$87|
|Graphics||Zotac AMP! Superclocked GeForce GTX 770 3 GB||$280|
|Storage Drive||Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB||$60|
|Boot Disk||Adata Premier Pro SP920 128 GB||$75|
|Power||In Win GreenMe 650 W 80 PLUS Bronze PSU||$60|
|Price of Performance Hardware||$1006|
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XM Computer Case||$120|
|Optical||Asus DRW-24B1ST OEM DVD Burner||$20|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit, OEM||$100|
|Price As Tested||$1246|
I sprang for Zotac's factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 770, hoping it'd be able to stand up to AMD's Radeon R9 290 from the prior build. Based on your feedback, I also made room for Adata's low-cost SP290 128 GB SSD.
Opting for In Win's GreenMe 650 W PSU helped keep costs down some, though I still wound up $56 over my $950 allotment. As for other expenses, Cooler Master's HAF XM case was on sale for $100 when we ordered and is up to $120 now. The total system price, including the operating system and DVD burner, lands under $1300, which is a reasonable target for this kind of system.
- Changing Focus For A Look At Processor Performance
- CPU, Motherboard And Cooler
- Graphics Card, Power Supply And Case
- Memory, Hard Drives And Optical Storage
- Building And Overclocking
- How We Tested
- Results: Synthetics
- Results: Media Transcoding
- Results: Rendering And Productivity
- Results: Adobe Creative Cloud
- Results: Compression Tools
- Results: Battlefield 4 And Arma 3
- Results: Grid 2 And Far Cry 3
- Power And Temperature
- Q3 2014 Mainstream Enthusiast PC Under $1300 Verdict