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Build a hellacious PC with Intel's Devil's Canyon and AMD's dual-GPU graphics monster

Marco Chiappetta | Oct. 30, 2014
Combining Intel's fastest processor with AMD's beefiest graphics card melted our faces--in both gaming performance and sheer power usage. Join us as we build the beast.

Continuing with the high-end theme of this build, we outfitted the rig with 16GB of RAM. The choice of kit may seem weird--we went with a 16GB (8GB x 2) DDR3-1866 AMD Radeon Performance Series kit. Why an AMD-branded memory kit? It was available at a competitive price and offered a high-capacity, paired with relatively low-latency and voltage. It, uh, also happened to match the color-scheme of the Gigabyte motherboard. These AMD-branded memory kits are produced by Patriot anyway, and work perfectly fine in an Intel-based system. Heck, the kit even has an XMP profile available for quick-and-easy configuration.

To handle our storage needs, we snatched up one of the most impressive solid state drives we've seen to date, a 1TB Samsung SSD 850 PRO. Many of today's fastest solid state drives flirt with the upper limits of the SATA interface in terms of peak, sequential transfer speeds, so little differentiates the drives in that regard. The Samsung SSD 850 PRO, however, is measurably faster than most other drives with small, random transfers, which can noticeably enhance the user experience during day-to-day computing tasks. Factor in the drive's high capacity and 10-year warranty, and it was a perfect fit.

We also threw a cheap, Lite-On DVD-R optical drive into the system in the unlikely event we'd need to use physical media at some point.

The Core i7-4790K isn't a particularly power-hungry CPU, but the Radeon R9 295X2 needs a ton of juice to operate reliably. In fact, AMD exceeded the standard specifications for the dual supplemental PCIe 8-pin feeds on the card. Typically, a PCI Express 8-pin feed can offer up to 150 watts, and the PCI Express graphics slot can feed another 75W. Add that all up and the Radeon R9 295X2's dual-8-pin feeds and slot shouldn't require more than 375W--but the card actually has a 500W TDP (thermal design point).

As such, the Radeon R9 295X2 needs a PSU capable of pumping out 28 amps on each of the 12-volt rails connected to the card, or a powerful single rail. With that in mind, we went with a Corsair RM1000 1000-watt modular unit, which features a single-rail design capable of 83.3A on its 12V rail. The RM1000 is also quiet and 80 Plus Gold certified.

To house all of our components, we chose a Rosewill Blackhawk mid-tower, which features mesh top and front panels and an array of included cooling fans. The Blackhawk offers excellent cooling performance for the money. Also, its specs claimed it could support graphics cards up to 16 inches, thanks to some removable drive cages--though as you'll see in a bit, we ran into some snags. (Thankfully, they weren't insurmountable.)

 

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