Plextor M5P Xtreme 256GB SSD

For this build we needed a fast SSD with enough capacity to hold our entire benchmarking suite, and Plextor was able to accommodate us. The M5P Xtreme we were sent is a 256GB SATA 6Gbps solid state drive with a 7mm height (as is becoming the norm), rated for sequential speeds of up to 540MB/sec reads and 460MB/sec writes, and a random read/write rating of 100,000/86,000 IOPS. It employs an enterprise class Monet 88SS9187 controller, and definitely met our needs during testing.

Our thanks to Plextor for this solid state drive.

Corsair AX1200i Power Supply

Truth be told, Corsair had provided me this power supply some time ago for testing with their Corsair Link software, and it's proven to be absolutely worthy for this build. The AX1200i is a fully modular, 200mm power supply rated for up to 1200 watts and 80 Plus Platinum certified, and it boasts one single, beefy 12V rail. When this unit is running at 30% or less load, the fan actually stops completely, but even under duress I found its fan noise to be negligible at worst. What makes it ideal, of course, is that it can easily supply the required current for two GTX 780s and an i7-4770K with plenty of overclocking headroom. The Corsair Link support is an added perk.

Our thanks to Corsair for this power supply.

Corsair Carbide Air 540 Enclosure

When it came to choosing a case, I really had my pick of the litter. You can plead favoritism, but honestly I've found Corsair's mid-to-high end offerings to be the most desirable for watercooling. Initially I'd planned on using the Micro-ATX Obsidian 350D, but then the Carbide Air 540 launched and I elected to go full ATX. In addition to just being a very interesting looking case, the Carbide Air 540 is perfect because it lets me test an air cooled system for comparison without having to use a case with middling air cooling performance. The case also supports a 360mm radiator in the front and a 240mm radiator in the top, giving a very healthy amount of cooling capacity when the switch to watercooling is made.

That, and like I said, it's just really neat.

Our thanks to Corsair for this enclosure.

Noctua NH-U14S Air Cooler

In order to prove the hypothesis we're entering into this review with, we need a control. Noctua's NH-U14S air cooler serves as that control; this cooler is incredibly quiet but also very efficient. This and its smaller sibling, the NH-U12S, are two of my favorite air coolers. Though they don't come cheap, they're awfully close to as good as you'll get on air if noise matters to you. The NH-U14S did not disappoint.

Our thanks to Noctua for this cooler.

The Components, Part 1 Building the System and Overclocking Under Air
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • hot120 - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Awesome article!
  • blanarahul - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Hmm.. Can you try cooling those 780s alone? Overclocking the CPU seems pointless on Haswell.
  • valkyrie743 - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    overclocking haswell is not pointless. just is a pain (same with ivy bridge) cause intel decided to be cheap and not solder the IHS to the cpu. if you do a mild overclock its fine give or take how bad the tim on the cpu/ihs is. but if you plan on doing high overclocks and water cooling like this. you might as well de-lid the cpu and apply your own tim. temps on air (if done right) drop a good 15 to 20C under load. I've seen people hitting 90 C and go down to 70 or less underload. and thats on air.

    the reason why i have no upgraded from my sandy bridge 2600K. @4.5ghz right now at 1.28 volts and my max temp running intel burn test was 70C (air)
  • The Von Matrices - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Please read my post in response to NeatOman. The result is correct but the reasoning is incorrect.
  • gandergray - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    For information about removing the cpu lid or integrated heat spreader, see the work performed by Idontcare: .
  • iTzSnypah - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    You are cooling way too much with only 600mm worth of radiators and your deltaT is obscene. Take out 1x GTX780 and retest if possible.
  • NeatOman - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    I think the thermal paste between the cpu and the lid are the limiting factor here, i believe that not only will 4770K do better with better thermal paste in between the lid and cpu on just air cooling alone but also might have a larger difference between the air and water cooling.

    And of course there is also a full delid which i think wont be much of a threat because with water cooling you don't need the motherboard to support a large heavy cooler.
  • NeatOman - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Sorry, i meant that you wont need to put a lot of pressure like if you where supporting a large air cooler with the motherboard.
  • The Von Matrices - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    The issue is not the composition of the thermal paste between the die and the lid; it is the thickness of the thermal paste between the die and the lid. It's widely reported that in Ivy Bridge and Haswell there is way too much of a gap between the die and the lid due to the thickness of the glue used to secure the lid to the package. You can solve this by removing the lid, using a razor blade to remove all the glue, then put on new TIM and place the lid back on the package. No matter what new TIM you use you will get drastically reduced temperatures.

    Either way, Haswell runs hot due to its FIVR, and there's nothing that can be done through beefier heatsinks, delidding, or changing thermal paste that will make it cooler than an equivalently modified Ivy Bridge.
  • dragosmp - Monday, September 30, 2013 - link

    Still, it is incomplete. The thermal transfer formula is simply Rth=rho*L/S, more thermal resistance (Rth) more the temperature delta is high between the source and ambient: deltaT=Power*Rth
    Asuming the power is constant, to decrease deltaT you need to decrease the thermal resistance, so:
    *S is the die surface, can't change that
    *L is the thickness of paste - you're right, it needs to be as thin as possible; put 2x too much and you have twice the deltaT
    *rho - thermal resistivity (1/lambda) - it depends on the material; Intel does use cheap paste with a conductivity around 3; were they to use fluxless solder or at least some AS5 they'd decrease the thermal resitance by a factor of 2 easily, thus offsetting a thicker than needed layer of paste.

    My 2 cents: for performance the paste must be removed and replaced with something better plus as you say remove the glue to reduce the thickness. Of course one should be careful not to chip the die, but these two things really help.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now