Since our last desktop review, I've overhauled the benchmarking suite for desktop systems. That means that AVADirect's build is getting a fairly fresh start. Futuremark has updated their PCMark 8 and 3DMark suites somewhat, making test results less comparable, and Cinebench has updated in the interim to R15. I figured now would also be a reasonable opportunity to trim down and focus gaming benchmarks.

Unfortunately, until I get more test systems in, comparison points are essentially lacking, but I can at least present the test results I do have for AVADirect's system.

Note that for PCMark 8, I'm running it with OpenCL acceleration. Since this is essentially the direction things are moving, it seems sensible to enable OpenCL.

PCMark 8 (Home) 5399
PCMark 8 (Creative) 5091
PCMark 8 (Work) 5546
PCMark 7 7029
3DMark (Fire Strike Extreme) 4731
Cinebench R15 (Multi-Thread) 851
Cinebench R15 (Single-Thread) 166
Cinebench R15 (OpenGL) 162.13
Video Encoding - x264 5.0 (Pass 1) 68.31
Video Encoding - x264 5.0 (Pass 2) 18.38

Scores are about where they should be, although the modest overclock and DDR3-1600 does hurt AVADirect a little. As far as the overclock goes, I'm not sure what can be done other than to try and cherry pick as many i7-4770Ks as possible; Haswell has a pretty wide range that I've experienced myself. 4.2GHz is conservative, but it's also about as high as I'd guarantee the majority of chips to be able to reliably hit and it seems to be what the SI industry has standardized on.

For gaming, I'm stuck on 1080p testing, so I've instead opted to just ramp settings as high as possible for each game. The reality is that our high end gaming hardware is stuck in a sort of limbo: too powerful for 1080p, nowhere near enough for 4K. Suffice to say, a single GTX 780 is mostly enough to handle the games in my revised suite.

BioShock Infinite 114.1
Company of Heroes 2 42.2
GRiD 2 111.7
Metro: Last Light 44.3
Tomb Raider 48.4

Keep in mind that Metro: Last Light and Tomb Raider are both running with SSAA, which is pretty taxing. So while we've got playable performance, it's not otherworldly just yet; we're not hitting the magic 60fps.

The bottom line is that AVADirect's system is more than adequate for handling most tasks and a fine gaming machine.

Analyzing the Build Quality Power Consumption and Heat
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  • DominionSeraph - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Sorry, I can't agree that an additional 240GB in SSD (to 480GB) is an adequate replacement for a 2TB drive. Windows is going to take up ~20GB. There are people with Skyrim installs of over 100GB. BF4 calls for 30GB. WoW is over 20GB.
    A $2500 gaming system should have room for more than a handful of games.
  • teiglin - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    If I were building a >$2000 gaming PC today, I would definitely go with a 1TB SSD rather than any mechanical storage. I think you're right that trying to live in a single <500GB SSD could be pretty constricting, especially if you are trying to keep a 15-20% buffer of free space--on a 480GB SSD, that's around 300GiB of useable space for games, which might be fine if you're willing to uninstall old games, but if you are more of a packrat like me the it will probably be tough.

    I still have about 6TB of hard drives in my primary PC because it also serves as media storage for my entire house, freeing up my HTPCs to have a single small SSD, but anything that's not video deserves to go on flash.
  • will54 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I agree with you there. We aren't at the point where it makes sense to get rid of hdd for mass storage. Get rid of the two smaller drives and start out with a 500gb or 1tb Samsung 840 and than add some hdd storage at a later date. Theres no reason to have everything on an ssd when a hdd is so much cheaper per GB.
  • tim851 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Once you drop mechanical storage, a gargantuan case like the NZXT becomes ridiculous. Look a the inside pics. Empty hdd bays, a full ATX board with a single card. And at least two fans have been weirdly positioned just to deflect outside airflow to the components who need it.
    Build this thing inside a Node 304 and it will not be any louder, but about a tenth of the volume and much more awesome. Get a Silverstone ST55F-G with the complementary short cable kit and it becomes actually easier to build than this monstrosity here.
  • schizoide - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I completely agree and was just coming here to post that. That case is ridiculously large for 2014. Who needs that much space?

    Agree about those two angled fans too. Overengineered is spot-on.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I couldn't agree more. It's all about small size and silence these days.
  • Sunday Afternoon - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Hmmm: the picture on the front page is distorted to make the proportions of the case appear very different.
  • LtGoonRush - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I'm really disappointed with the poor component choices in this build, especially the motherboard, memory, and storage. They built a $2500 system around the *cheapest Z87 motherboard Asus makes*, which results in a very poorly balanced system due to the low quality integrated peripherals like audio and Ethernet. Using four DIMMs is the kind of amateurish mistake you see in people's first builds, it's not a big deal (unless you want to upgrade or run at high RAM clocks) but it's obviously wrong so should never happen in a machine designed by a professional. Finally, not only did they combine two small, slow system drives in a RAID0 array, but they used some of the least reliable drives on the market. This isn't opinion or anecdote, the Kingston HyperX 3K drives use low quality NAND (see TechReport SSD endurance tests to support this) and their observed failure rate (for 120GB models specifically) in the market is >5X comparable drives from Intel and Samsung (see Hardware.FR statistics for October 2013).

    It's 2014, we shouldn't have to shame boutique system builders into making decent component choices. I'm not asking anything unreasonable here or expensive here, a pair of 8GB DIMMs, a single 250GB Samsung 840 Evo, and bump the motherboard up to something appropriate. At the end of the day this system would not deliver the experience a customer should expect from a $2500 gaming machine, at a minimum because the integrated audio is so bad. If this is what they send out for review to show off their prowess, what ends up in the hands of their customers?
  • chrnochime - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Ready to kill mechanical storage? You've got to be kidding me. Even the cheapest HDD these days still has longer MTBF than the best consumer SSD.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Can you provide any proof of this? Everything I've read says that SSD wins hands down on MTBF. They also win for power, noise, heat and shock resistance. The only downside I'm aware of is price per MB. I don't think I'll ever buy an HDD again.

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