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Darkness: Upgrade and Mods to a 3 year old Fractal Design R4

by sketch24



Date Published

March 18, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

4 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.389 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01 GHz


This is an upgrade to an old build here. Since then, there were some incremental upgrades. The main reason for the upgrade was for Battlefield 4 multiplayer. The old i5-3570k was able to keep up in almost all games, but when it comes to a high tick-rate server with 64 players in BF4, it would get crippled. I would be stuck at 98-99% CPU utilization at all times and GPU utilization on a GTX 980ti would be around 50%. This would cause huge framerate drops and stuttering in areas where there were a lot of people and where there was a lot of physics in play (i.e. things on fire, ashes floating). This meant that the multiplayer game was intensely CPU limited.

Because I play BF4 a lot, I wanted to upgrade to an i7. It was either a 5820k or a 6700k and I decided on the 6700k because of a higher clock rate and higher IPC. I read from forums and found anecdotes that even though a 6700k has two less cores, it was a better performer in BF4 because of the higher overclock potential and the higher IPC. I had read a 5820k doesn't overclock nearly as high and on average gets 4.0-4.2 GHz stable. The only other issue that made me hesitate on the 6700k was the price. It was $50 over retail while the 5820k was $320 at microcenter. Once microcenter dropped the price to $314 for pi day, I felt that the 6700k was the best performer for BF4 and for other games that might depend more on higher clock and higher IPC and don't use more than 4 cores/8 threads effectively.

Once everything was put together, I was able to test the performance of the 6700k in BF4 as compared to the old i5-3570k. So the end result is that I don't get a higher overall score in firestrike but I get a higher physics score which is important in BF4. Objectively, I am getting on average a similar FPS range on a 64 person, high tick-rate server, but subjectively, I get much smoother gameplay with no stuttering or frame-rate drops. It is a much better playing experience then the 3570k and I get 60% on all 8 threads and around 80-90% GPU utilization.

Over the past year, I also made some changes to the case. I gutted the lower and middle hard drive trays to increase airflow and then added a larger window and a PSU shroud so that I could use PSU cable extensions instead of expensive custom cables. Also added an NZXT LED light strip.

Overall, really happy with the build and how it turned out and it will probably be another few years before I upgrade the system.

Part Reviews

CPU Cooler

Almost dead silent and looks good with any setup. I can barely hear this if at all over my case fans. It keeps a 6700k around 35C at idle and 60C at load.


After the issues with the Samsung 840 evo and the fake fixes, it lead me to try to avoid samsung even though the issue was fixed in the 850 evo. The bx100 is slower than an 850 evo but it is unnoticeable in real world scenarios. The drive is rock solid and still blazing fast.

Video Card

I side-graded from two GTX 970s in SLI to this and it works much better than them. The overall firestrike score was higher for the GTX 970s in SLI, but because of the memory issue and general SLI issues, this one card overclocked gets almost the same firestrike score and is subjectively better in games because I don't get SLI stutter. The card is cool and quiet, looks great, and handles all games without problems.

Power Supply

This fully modular PSU is rock solid and provides clean power for overclocking quietly. It is highly reviewed with highest ratings on Johnny Guru and techpowerup. Haven't had any problems.


The monitor itself is probably one of the best out there. You cannot beat IPS 144hz and g-sync. The only reason the monitor can't be recommended is the QC issues. It had horrible QC issues that a $700 monitor shouldn't have. I got 2 dead pixels in the middle third which wasn't worth the hassle of the return but still annoying.


Solid construction with that awesome mechanical feel. Have had it for two years without issue.

Comments Sorted by:

RhettRO55 1 Build 3 points 36 months ago

B-E-A-UTIFUL! I love it when I find a fellow wire Nazi that will go to great lengths to make sure those cables look like uncooked spaghetti and not a birds nest stuck under a desk.

Also MAD props for that upside down double-sided tape SSD mount. Almost looks like it belongs there on purpose!

hieuman 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

Yeah, that hidden SSD is rather smart sitting there underneath the ODD cage. I might rewire my PC to throw it in that spot now...

sketch24, did you put it there with some sort of adhesive?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

3M double sided tape. I think this position is easier to access than the stock SSD mount holes behind the motherboard tray. In the R5 and define S, they made it a lot easier, but this seemed like a better compromise for the R4.

KoolPuff444 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

+1 for XB270HU Cool build

Ropota 1 point 36 months ago

Super clean cabling! Is it me or does your 980ti look bowed or something? It looks droopy in the middle to me. Maybe the camera angle?

SquadronAce 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

DAMN DANIEL! Haha Awesome job on your cables, and excellent component choice!

hieuman 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

Veddy nice. Did you try OC'ing your 3570K higher? The IPC increase of Skylake isn't much over Ivybridge, which would've been negligible if you pushed 3570K into higher territory, as 4.2GHz is rather conservative.

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

The i5 was overclocked to 4.2 GHz and even then it didn't do well. I couldn't get a stable overclock above that, so it might have been bad luck in the lottery. But even then, the stock 4.0 GHz clock on the i7 still does much better in BF4.

erodbige 3 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

where did you get the graphics card for 525????

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

Amazon warehouse.

matthewdd 1 point 36 months ago

Beautiful and clean build. Definitely a +1. I love the cable management here. Excellent job mate!

PCIntake 1 point 36 months ago

+1 for Star Wars background

Vinyl_Scratch_ 1 point 36 months ago

Great build! Love the cable routing, especially the clips since everyone who has custom cables seems to love to have them in a mess..

Question though. When reading on the 5820k, where exactly did you see people claiming 4.0 GHZ to 4.2? Most of the time I read 4.4, or even 4.5 usually. Is it with the intent of keeping stock voltage?

SkyRocket456 1 point 36 months ago

This is fapping material. Love it dude

mphershey 2 Builds 1 point 36 months ago
jpereira95 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

I love the how clean and organize it looks. One question were did you get your table?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

It's from Ikea. It's a the Ikea Gerton tabletop and you just buy any of the random legs from ikea.

DeadlyCrzy 1 point 36 months ago

Im considering getting that mobo for my build. What are your thoughts on it?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

It's a great board if you aren't an extreme overclocker. For modest overclocking, it's a great board with all the z170 features.

DeadlyCrzy 1 point 36 months ago

Appreciate the response!

I'm that heavy into over clocking so I think this is the board for me.

Evgueni 1 point 36 months ago

I gotta know, is the XB270HU bprz a waste?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

No. A gsync ips monitor is completely worth it and I think it is a much better investment than even getting a second 980ti because even if one 980ti can't keep up, I'd never notice it because of gsync. And a 1440 144hz ips screen can't be beat. I just think I overpaid for mine because it came with two dead pixels.

Evgueni 1 point 36 months ago

I know about why it's great, with the 144hz, IPS, GSync, 1440p. My main concern with the monitor are the ATROCIOUS reviews I have seen. Same story goes with the ROG Swift. I might just stick with buying an ASUS pb258q, it's not 144hz but that's fine for me. Thanks for the help. By the way, have you considering RMAing the monitor due to the dead pixels?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

I'd rather not pay for shipping for something that I don't notice. Also I think their RMA policy requires more dead pixels than 2 and it has to mostly concentrated in the center or something along those lines. I just don't want to pay to ship it back with the risk it might happen again.

tristinpflugradt 5 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

Where'd you get the clips for the sleeved cables?

TheBlackPython 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

sweet build! love the color scheme! Is that motherBoard good? I'm thinking of getting it but then started to hear bad things bout MSI.

Siopao.lo 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago

Hey, nice build man!! How are those fractal design case fans? Are they quiet and push a lot of air?

ogmeat 1 point 31 months ago

Do u use ethernet or wireless wifi??

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

Ethernet. Why?

oo2k15 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Is there a reason why you have top 2 fans as intake?

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

Because of the big cooler in the way, a positive pressure system works better for my setup. Also helps with dust buildup.

JR3538 1 point 29 months ago

does the cover come with the r4

sketch24 submitter 9 Builds 1 point 29 months ago

No. It's something I made.

JR3538 1 point 29 months ago


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