And speaking of cooling performance, the last piece of kit we should mention is the Thermaltake NiC 4 cooler. The Core i7-4790K has a max TDP of only 88W, but we wanted a CPU cooler that afforded a bit of headroom for overclocking. The Thermaltake NiC 4 is capable of dissipating up to 180W with its dual 120mm fans and over-sized, tower-type heatsink. It's also affordable and relatively quiet.
If you're keeping track, the complete parts breakdown for the system is as follows:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K - $340
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK - $350
- Memory: AMD Radeon Performance Series 16GB DDR-1866 - $160
- GP : AMD Radeon R9 295X2 - $1000
- Storage: Samsung SSD 850 PRO 1TB - $660
- Optical drive: Lite-On DVD-R - $20
- Chassis: Rosewill Blackhawk - $80
- Power supply: Corsair RM1000 1000W PSU - $180
- CPU cooler: Thermaltake NiC 4 - $45
- Operating system: Windows 8.1 OEM - $100
- The complete system costs $2,935.
You could deduct the OEM copy of Windows 8.1 to save a little cash. At just under $3,000, this system is pricey by almost anyone's measure (though still around $500 cheaper than our Haswell-E build). However, it also represents one of the most powerful, bleeding-edge PCs you could build today.
Turning the screws
Assembling most systems is relatively easy. The CPU, GPU, and RAM are keyed and fit into their respective sockets or slots only one way, and it's easy to tell which slots fit which add-in boards as well.
Occasionally, however, you'll run into a snag or two with things like over-sized coolers that interfere with RAM slots, or a drive bay that blocks the installation of an extra-long graphics card. The latter affected us this time around.
Though the Rosewill Blackhawk can accommodate graphics cards up to 16 inches long, it appears that's only when used with motherboards that don't put the first PEG slot in the top-most position. Even with the top drive cage removed, the Radeon R9 295X2 bumped up against a mounting bracket in the case. We were, however, able to pry the mount upward with a pair of pliers, since the mount was for the drive cage we wouldn't be using anyway.
We also had to contend with a second graphics-card-related issue. The Radeon R9 295X2 has a closed-loop liquid cooling setup that requires mounting its radiator in a 120mm fan location somewhere on the case. We planned to put the radiator on the rear 120mm fan location on the Rosewill Blackhawk, but it proved impossible to line up the mounting holes perfectly.
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