This past week, I ran into some nagging issues with my old PC and decided it was time to replace it. Here’s what I ended up getting:
Asrock Z87 Extreme4
Intel Core i7 4770k (Haswell)
32gb G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2400 C10
2x Adata SX900 256gb (in RAID-0)
Antec Kühler H2O 620
GTX 780 (carried over from the old rig)
Intel X540-T1 network card
After some fumbles due to an outdated BIOS, I was able to flash it to the latest version 2.30 which seems to have solved all my problems. Even better: the BIOS has overclocking presets that actually work! All I did was choose the “Turbo 4.4ghz” option and it is perfectly stable. Idle temps are 22-25’C, load temps around 75’C. Not bad at all!
Even though it’s technically a downgrade from my 12-core 2.8ghz workstation, 4 cores at 4.4ghz is very comfortable. It feels a lot snappier, owing to the drastically faster memory and native 6G SATA. The 2-drive SSD RAID pushes 1040gb/sec sustained read & write speeds, which just happens to be the amount of throughput I need to properly test 10-gigabit server workloads.
The downside of going with an LGA1150 board is relatively low PCI Express bandwidth, but PCI-E 3.0 is nearly twice as fast as 2.0. Another way of looking at it is that 8x 3.0 is like 16x 2.0, so there’s really no need to worry about the PCI-E slots being a bottleneck. You can still do SLI or Crossfire without issue.
For a “cheap” board, I’m quite happy with the Asrock Z87 Extreme4. The only thing it’s missing, and this is my own damn fault, is a Firewire port (aka IEEE 1394). It seems none of Asrock’s Z87 boards have it, and frankly it is an aging standard that only a handful of musicians still use, so now I need to find an add-on Firewire card to plug in my audio interface.
On a semi-related note, the onboard audio is noticeably cleaner and “louder” than most boards I’ve seen. They have some added circuitry called “Purity Sound”, which is essentially a decent op-amp and output stage, and it really does make a difference. Even with my 600 ohm headphones it delivered more than enough power and above-average frequency response. Coming from me, that’s saying a lot, because I usually hate on-board audio so much that I DISABLE it! But this one, I might just keep it plugged in and leave the pro-audio interface for actual pro-audio work.
Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. If you’re not interested in Hyper-Threading, you can save almost $100 by getting the 4670k instead of the 4770k. Either way, this makes for a damn fine gaming rig.