Description

Part list/assembly greatly attributed to Albert C. Thanks again for your help!

I started to plan out (brooded over) the part list starting from April. Largest contenders being the decision between hitting the 4790K and running 32 GB of DRAM, or cutting down to 4690K and 16 GB. Seeing as how I didn't want an autobot, I cut down and decided that running the 4790K was not worth ponying up more for the Ultimate Edition of Windows 7. There is nothing I'd personally run, aside from running asinine nested VM trials, which would take full advantage of the hardware if I went up a level.

The GPU also took in a bit of consideration. The GTX 970 unfortunately has its reputation as a "meme card", though I think it's stonking great regardless of the 512 MB loss. Despite this, I decided to not step over into the 980 Ti, since it came out a little after my part list planning had completed, and the price tag was a little too crazy (crazier than $500) for me to invest in. As far as I'm able to tell, the GTX 980 is a tank and I'm afraid it'll become self-aware and go T-800 on my entire generation. For reference, the GTX 980 will be splitting across two 1920x1080 60Hz displays. I have yet to make the jump to a refresh rate higher, a 2560x1440 or 4k resolution, or even DisplayPort monitors.

The Define R4 is quite the case! I appreciate the overall design, and the window is a nice touch to the minimalist aesthetic appeal. The interior has plenty of room to fit even Asus' GTX 980 STRIX with the drive cages, though I have taken the middle ones out. There's enough room to allow sufficient airflow, with enough vents to install any amount of fans. Two on the bottom (one reserved mostly for the PSU), two in front, two on top, one in the rear, shipping with two fairly decent 120mm silent fans. I'm considering purchasing one more fan just to have another exhaust coming out the top, but none for the front or bottom, as those would most likely cause turbulence.

My only trouble and complaint about the build overall, as that the Define R4's rear vents seem to have its corners intentionally pushed in such a manner that did not seem like case damage to me. As a result, I had to shave off the surface of my CPU Cooler by about 2mm before the screws could go through both it, and secure the radiator behind it. This maybe an issue with the case, or the fact that Cooler Master ships the Seidon 120M with some pretty short screws, but either way it is a solvable issue.

Since completion, I've brought up the CPU from 3.5 to 4.6 GHz in the BIOS, and have yet to afterburn in my GPU, which I'm not even sure will be necessary given what I'll be running. Future additions to this will most likely be the extra exhaust fan on the top, as well as adding an internal card reader, for all the two times I'll ever use it. Overall, for the price I had paid, I expect this machine to last me a great amount in the future!

Part Reviews

CPU

At it's current price, the 4690K is a beautiful marker between upper-"budget" gaming PCs and full on premium CPUs. That's not to say that this iteration of the Haswell architecture is not a premium product itself. I've been able to bring this up to 4.6 GHz (though those speeds are only justified by the liquid cooling unit) and I've found the stability to be shocking.

While I'm always a proprietor of the "Price and Performance trumps all" philosophy, the price on this is well worth the performance you will get, and will ostensibly need from it in the future.

CPU Cooler

A solid cooler from top to bottom, does as advertised and keeps my CPU very cool! I was observing a 35° Celsius idle temperature on my i5-4690K, and that's in a particularly warm setting in my bedroom. It also remained relatively silent, offering very little sound though that can be attributed to proper casing as well.

My only complaint is Cooler Master's negligence on providing courtesy in the package; you should not try to install this without a video handy! In addition, the screws they ship with the cooler to fasten the fan and radiator together are fairly short. In fact, so short that I had to resort to taking a grinder and shaving a good 2mm off the surface of the fan. This did not in any way damage the cooling system altogether, but it was a task I didn't expect to have to go through, especially if the screws could be just a tad bit longer, or if the fans themselves were thinner.

Overall, this is a solid cooler and my gripes about it are highly subjective. At its price point and performance, a must have for any CPU to be cool.

Video Card

An absolute beast of a card, with enough features and caveats to make any owner satisfied. Wonderfully balanced temperatures and power draw; the 980 STRIX performs higher than the GTX 980 reference card out of the box, with pretty significantly lower load temps as well. The idle temps of the card are higher, but that's attributed to the fact that the fans on the card don't even spin until they reach the mid-60° C range. They have trouble getting any higher than that, and this card runs remarkably cool and quietly until you start throwing some serious riddles at it.

Even as I took advantage of Nvidia's DSR feature on the 900 series, I was able to run most games at a higher, downscaled resolution, with little to no increase in temperatures. Most astonishingly of all, lower-demanding games such as League of Legends don't even get the card's fans to spin, even AT a higher internal resolution than what my monitor is at. Though 1920x1080 60Hz is a standard that is unquestioningly easily met, to not even ask the fans to spin is remarkable on its own.

My only gripe? I wasn't patient enough to wait for Asus to release this card's Ti brother. As of writing, the 980 Strix is beaten in overall value by the GTX 980 Ti, and even still the GTX 970. Though the 980 Ti is still very fresh, the 970 will still struggle to maintain its light 4k, even 1440p gaming standards to the 980. Even so, this card is remarkably powerful and will last its users for a long time. My personal preference with this card remains on the fact that Asus' Direct CU II has given me significant power without burning a hole through my case.

Case

The Define R4 has set my standards for what a case should be. Even if the points I'm about to make will be mostly subjective, I'm confident that my enthusiasm about this case will be shared by many others.

To start, the aesthetic appeal and overall design of the case is fantastic. The windowed side panel does the case great justice, adding flare that isn't so overtly trying to impress an audience, but does give a great glimpse into the interior of a machine. In addition, the front swiveling door of the case gets a great treatment of features, with baseline ports such as USB 3.0, headphone, microphone, and power/reset button sitting well-positioned at the top.

The insides of the case let the user take full advantage of the possibility of cable management (as they rightfully ought to), by giving a good inch of room on the windowless panel side. There are plenty of loops to help pin down and fasten cables to, and the breaches are positioned well so that plugs and ports can reach anywhere while still being hidden by the left-side panel. It features a fan-controller of the front, able to fasten itself onto three fans at most, a feature that is well-appreciated if you don't want your system to handle it for you.

A great case overall. If I would have any complaints, it would be that it was larger than I expected, but that isn't necessarily a full downside either. With the choice of removing top panels for more vents, and the option to completely remove the drive cages altogether, airflow is great in this case and will help in maintaining temperatures. Nearly every part of this case was well-thought out, and will guarantee that with proper planning, cable management can be done well, and airflow will be kept quite well in this case, all while looking fantastically simple.

Comments

  • 47 months ago
  • 2 points

nice clean build, smart choice of parts... keep the corsair paperwork for the psu (just in case- had a few dodgy units a year back from them). This build should offer you nice expansion down the road when you need growth.

  • 47 months ago
  • 2 points

That's a shame to hear; thanks for the advice. I'll keep that in mind.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Those are some damned good pictures. Proud of my child.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

How do you like that case? I'm planning on getting an R5 black w/ window

  • 46 months ago
  • 2 points

Still standing by what I said in my build review and part review.

tl;dr Solid case with great options for cable management and ample space for air flow. I/O and buttons are well thought out. "Well thought out" actually describes the case as a whole. I have no complaints, though the only issue I had was regarding mounting my CPU cooler fan + radiator, though that was an issue that can be shared with the actual CPU cooler, so it's a very subjective thing.

The R5 has a slightly different take on the top vents, and I didn't like the way they looked. That's about the only reason I chose the R4, but it's entirely up to you. I can't speak for the R5, but the R4 is a fantastic case and I can't be any happier than I am with it. From what I read on reviews, the R5 is the same.

[comment deleted]
  • 47 months ago
  • 2 points

I personally can't find much usage for the hyperthreading of an i7 to justify the purchase unfortunately. This was the mistake I made when purchasing the i7 2600K for my last build years back, though that CPU was remarkably valuable for its performance anyway.

I was pushing the i7 because of the extra 16 GB of RAM it would give me, but in the end I decided it was a purchase that I didn't have to make for a good reason. On the other hand, the 980 was enough to push me over to get it over the 970.

But if value wasn't the issue, I'd have purchased the 4790K and 32 GB of RAM without hesitation.

[comment deleted]
  • 47 months ago
  • 2 points

A lot of virtual machine tinkering on top of compiling, some in tandem. The RAM is unnecessary for gaming, absolutely. I would probably stop at 8 and look no further, but I max out my memory quick for things related to work on my older 6 GB setup.