System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: Our Mainstream Enthusiast PC

System Builder Marathon Q1 2015: The Articles

Here are links to each of the five 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: The Mainstream Enthusiast PC
Day 3: Our $1750 Performance PC
Day 4: System Value Compared
Day 5: Alternative $1750 PC

My Q4 2014 System Builder Marathon build was the victim of a faulty motherboard that kept me from generating overclocked results. So, this time, I'll draw comparisons to a system I put together the quarter prior. That PC sported a Core i5-4690K and GeForce GTX 770.

This also gives me an opportunity to see what the GeForce GTX 970 can do pushed beyond its factory clock rates.

As for the CPU, an increased performance budget of $950 let me step up to a powerful Core i7-4790K instead of the Core i5-class processors I usually use in my mid-range builds. I was also able to squeeze in a 240GB SSD, rather than the 120GB drives I typically select.

Enthusiast System Components
MotherboardMSI Z97 PC Mate, LGA 1150 Intel Z97
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4790K: 4GHz Base Clock Rate, 8MB Shared L3 Cache
Heat Sink
Zalman CNPS9900MAX-B
Memory8GB G.Skill Ares (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133, F3-2133C9D-8GAB
GraphicsAsus Strix GeForce GTX 970 4GB
Storage Drive
Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1TB$55
Boot Disk
PNY Optima 240GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
PowerEVGA 600B 80 PLUS Bronze PSU
Price of Performance Hardware$925
Cooler Master HAF XB Evo Computer Case$95
Pioneer Black Blu-ray BDC-207DBK OEM
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit, OEM$100
Price As Tested$1314

Even with a quality enclosure, Blu-ray Drive and Windows x64 operating system, the total price of my PC falls under $1350. On paper, it's one of the most balanced enthusiast-oriented builds I've ever put together, with no glaring weaknesses. Let's cover the component choices in detail.

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  • lorribot
    When was the last time you used an optical drive? For me it was over twio years ago. I have built many PCs but use a USB drive as it so much quicker.
    They seem to be hanging around after they have outlived the usefulness like floppy discs drives did for at least 3 years because people just couldn't let go.
    Make the break you know you really want to.
  • -HH-
    wouldn't this build be a bit better for the price though... Graphics card price wont display.

    Graphics card around $335-350
  • ccampy
    Lots of people use optical drives for more then just installing windows I've got a bunch of games or disk also use my PC as a DVD player and such as many others do