Ultimate PC - June 2014
The Ultimate PC: Only the best and fastest components available, with the appropriate astronomical price tag. You won't be able to assemble a PC better than this. That said, we do stay within reason, so you won't find us recommending for example yottabytes of SSD storage.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
Intel's Core i7 4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor is for now the fastest consumer CPU money can buy, and so the one we recommend for the Ultimate PC.
An Ultimate PC requires only the best components, and for CPU coolers you should therefore look at the Corsair H100i from the Hydro Series. It can handle an overclocked 4960X as well. It comes with mounting equipment for the Socket2011 processor socket.
Using Corsair Link, you can control this cooler, the case and PSU up to the finest details, a nice little addition.
The Core i7 4960X needs DDR3 memory in a quad-channel configuration, which means you have to fill four banks simultaneously. We went with two of the Corsair Dominator Platinum 16 GB DDR3-2800 CL12 quad kit for a total of 32 GB.
In the Ultimate system we advise only the best for every component. For the motherboard, the choice is clear then: the philosophy behind ASUS' Rampage IV Black Edition is identical. It combines the gaming features from the Formula models with the overclocking options from the Extreme series, and adds a whole bunch of features to those. The ultimate board for the ultimate system, then.
Picking the ultimate graphics card is often a hard job, but this time round it was a pretty clear choice for twin AMD Radeon R9 295X2 cards in a quad-CrossFireX configuration. Quad, as each card features two R9 290X GPUs.
One of these is quieter and faster than two separate 290Xs and by using two of these beasts, the display real estate we picked can be put into motion without effort. A single R9 295X2 is faster than a single Titan-Z by Nvidia, as our recent test showed. Unfortunately we couldn't test how two 295X2s kept up with twin Titan-Zs, but at least these two will take up less space, despite coming with included watercooling, which our chosen enclosure can accomodate easily.
OCZ's Vector 150 is the fastest SSD of the moment, with a steady state performance that even outpaces Samsung's 840 Pro series. Thanks to Toshiba's rescue, you don't need to worry over warranty: you get five years on the Vectors. As such, we install four 480GB versions, for the highest performance.
We don't go for the even faster option of a PCI Express SSD such as the Revo 350, as that would mean sacrificing PCI-Express lanes which are much needed for the graphics cards.
Although it was introduced quite a long while ago, Hitachi's Deskstar 7K4000 still is the fastest 4TB drive that we tested. With two of those, you have 8TB at your disposal - if that is not enough, consider a NAS.
Although the LG BH16NS40 did not perform as well as the Plextor PX-B950SA in our tests, the latter is no longer available. For the optical drive we therefore choose the LG by default.
When it comes to the Ultimate PC's case, there is a hard choice to be made. Both options are pretty much textbook 'ultimate' material: the Corsair Obsidian 900D and the Cooler Master Cosmos II are nearly identically priced, offer a veritable ocean's worth of room for components, excellent cable management features and a ton of cooling options.
In performance too, the two are very well matched. The 900D offers a bit more space for water cooling solutions and, crucially, has space for a second PSU. The Cosmos II has a more striking design and arguably the (even) nicer side panels. That however is more a matter of taste. The 900D is not the better case in all respects, but at this level you get to choose between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. This time round, we select the 900D, but the Cosmos II is certainly well worthy of your consideration, should you find yourself shopping for the ultimate enclosure for the ultimate system.
The ultimate PC gets the ultimate PSU: Corsair's AX1500i delivers plenty of power for the components we picked, is extremely efficient (80Plus Titanium!) and Corsair Link allows you to fine tune just about every aspect of its operation, including all voltages.
Possibly you expected to see a 4K monitor with the Ultimate system, but nonetheless we went for a different solution. The reason is that the 4K models you can buy right now are all lacking in one way or another. The larger ones offer less than stellar colour reproduction, the smaller ones are nigh unusable due to the terrible scaling of a lot of software. As an aside, even the three graphics cards in this system have to work quite hard to deliver smooth frame rates at 4K, particularly were we to advise more than one screen.
Given those circumstances, we opted for three Dell UltraSharp U3014 screens, successor to the superlative U3011. With three times 2560x1600 pixels you still have a huge amount of space to work with - more than a single 4K screen would provide.
PC speaker set -
It's sad but true: right now there is no speakerset for PC's available that we deem sufficiently 'ultimate' to be a worthy addition to this system. Assuming you have 500-600 euros to spend, we would advise you to go to your nearest quality Hifi outlet and listen to some good stereo systems there. We hope in our next update to have a model to recommend again, but unfortunately the PC speaker market is flooded with cheap products rather than with high quality models. Teufel's G 500, which we used to recommend, is not available anymore.
Logitech's mechanical keyboard is one of the most versatile ones you can buy, while it isn't even that expensive. Not that that matters for this Buyer's Guide, but still. The G710+ is our pick for this edition of the Ultimate system.
Logitech's G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse works on any surface. It fits nicely in your hand, has enough buttons and is wireless (but can be used wired as well). What else do you need in a mouse?
|Processors||Intel Core i7 4960X Boxed||–|
|CPU coolers||Corsair Hydro Series H100i||–|
|Memory modules||2x Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB DDR3-2800 CL12 quad kit||–|
|Motherboards||ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition||–|
|Graphics cards||2x ASUS Radeon R9 295X2 8GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||4x OCZ Vector 150 480GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x HGST Deskstar 7K4000 4TB||–|
|Optical drives||LG BH16NS40||–|
|Cases||Corsair Obsidian 900D||£329.95|
|Power supplies||Corsair AX1500i||£399.98|
|Monitors||3x Dell UltraSharp U3014||£2,879.97|
|PC speaker sets||–|
|Keyboards||Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||–|
|Mice||Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||£3,609.90|