Intel has had some pressure from the recent launch of AMD's new Ryzen family of processors and the result is Intel's solution codenamed "Coffee Lake". The new CPUs recently launched using Intel's 8th Generation technology. The current launch has also spawned a new Z370 chipset, which does leave some people scratching their heads.
Today, I will be building a high-end PC for gaming and editing using the 8700K CPU. We will look at what Intel's new 8th gen technology has to offer and will also be focusing on an overclocking guide with the new Z370 chipset. I want to show how easy overclocking can be and also show some pointers for the enthusiasts or beginner. Overclocking the 8700K will allow us to squeeze extra performance from the CPU, and from my experience, we should expect a respectable overclock.
With complete system builds you have to keep in mind everything you need on top of your new shiny rig. You have to consider an OS (Operating System), and peripherals. You can always recycle your old parts, but check out guides on the best gaming mice, monitors, and keyboards as well.
In this current build guide, we will be using a new Z370 motherboard. Z370 is required for Coffee Lake and is NOT backward compatible with Z270. We will get into the details later, but if you're doing a system build around Coffee Lake you NEED a Z370 motherboard.
Why Coffee Lake?
Intel's new Coffee lake architecture is what they call 14 nm ++. This would be similar to a refresh of a CPU in their old release cycle. However, Intel has launched these new CPUs requiring a new chipset. The new chipset is called Z370 and is required for the performance gains you get with the new CPUs. The biggest difference is the extra core counts than on previous generations. Intel claims this requires more power and the new Z370 chipset offers an enhanced package for power delivery. The new Z370 motherboards still use the "1151" socket, supports DDR4 2666 out of the box, 40 PCIe lanes (3.0), and still supports Turbo Boost 2.0. Essentially, this is almost identical to Kaby Lake!
Let's talk about overclocking and those new power requirements. Intel claims that it has seen an 80% growth in sales for High-End desktop CPUs. They know the market still craves performance for demanding tasks and applications. The X series CPUs were designed for what Intel calls "Mega-Tasking". These new 8th gen CPUs are broken up into families, and Intel believes the 8700K to be the best gaming desktop processor ever. Intel also for the first time has a Core i5 6 core CPU and 4 core Core i3. The 14 nm ++ With the extra cores and increased power requirement offers better stability for per core overclocking and stability.
The new features for Z370 and overclocking are:
- Per Core Overclocking
- Max Memory Ratio up to 8,400 MT/s
- Real-Time Memory Latency Control
- Extended PLL Trim Controls
- The enhanced Package Power Delivery
I will do my best to keep current links for these parts and prices, but some of these items are new and hard to find in databases like from the PCPARTPICKER website. This build is designed for fun and by no means requires every single part listed. There will be a section for peripherals as an addition to the system. The extra accessories provide additional features like RGB lighting and cleaner aesthetics overall.
Also, please keep in mind that these parts were provided by each manufacturer for this build. I didn't get to choose each part individually, and what was provided was in focus during the Coffee Lake launch cycle. I want to say "Thank You" to all the sponsors for this build, without your support I wouldn't have opportunities like this.
- CPU: Intel 8700K $: 400 @ NewEgg
- Motherboard: ASRock Z370 Extreme 4 $: 195.00 @ NewEgg
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB 3200MHz $: 194 @ NewEgg
- Video Card: Zotac GTX 1080 Mini $: 540.00 @ NewEgg
- Storage 1: MyDigitalSSD BP5E 480GB x2 (RAID 0) $: 200.00 @ Amazon (Each)
- Storage 2: MyDigitalSSD BPX 480GB $: 220.00 @ Amazon
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 Black ATX Open Frame (With Riser Cable) $: 110.00 @ NewEgg
- Cooler: Thermaltake Floe AIO Riing RGB 360 TT Premium Edition $: 200.00 @ NewEgg
- PSU: Thermaltake Smart Pro RGB 850W Bronze Fully Modular $: 100.00 @ NewEgg
- Total: $: 2359.00
Overclocking your CPU is a great way to get more for free out of your system. The 8700K can boost to 4.7GHz on a single thread but is known for reaching 5.0GHz or higher if you're lucky. Of course, cooling will play a key role in keeping your CPU cool, which is why I used the Thermaltake Floe 360mm AIO.
The 8700K is a 6 core part with hyper-threading. This provides the 8700K with 6 physical + 6 virtual cores, which totals 12 threads together. You can expect outstanding gaming performance and beyond with support for 4K content creation. Intel has noticed a 16% growth in eSports, and streaming. They refer to this as Mega-Tasking and want the very best results for gamers, streamers, and content creation enthusiasts. As a result, The 8700K delivers both outstanding single threaded performance and enough cores to handle heavy workloads.
Incredible VR experiences require an ideal combination of a processor, graphics card, display, and audio. If you attach an HMD(Head Mounted Display) to an 8th gen Intel CPU you can expect the best performance possible. The 8700K was built with VR in mind and will deliver on performance.
Some important features for the 8700K and Z370 include Optane memory support, Turbo Boost 2.0, and an unlocked CPU for overclocking.
The i7-8700K delivers:
- DDR4-2666 Memory support
- Up to 4.7GHz max frequency
- 6/12 cores/threads
- 12MB Smart Cache
- Z370 chipset compatibility
- Optane memory support
- UHD 630 graphics
- 2 Memory channels
- Turbo Boost 2.0
The CPU and chipset can be broken down into architecture + Design + manufacturing = Premium Performance. The CPU will handle your x16 PCIe 3.0, DDR4 memory controller, and HDMI/Display port integration.
The Z370 chipset is connected and shared across DMI(Direct Media Interface) 3.0 between the 8th gen CPUs and supports your PCIe 3.0 express as well, USB 3.1, Optane support, Thunderbolt, Intel LAN, SATA 3.0, USB 2.0, SM Bus, and HD audio.
If your interested in saving money Intel has done some interesting things in the CPU market to compete with Ryzen. They have provided the first 6 core i5 part, and 4 core i3 part with unlocked performance. What's more interesting, is the price point of the Core-i5 8400 at $300. This offers a good balance of price/performance ratio and you get 6 cores/6 threads. The only drawback is the multiplier is locked here, hence the price cut. If you're looking for the best, Intel thinks the 8700K is the best balance gaming/content creation desktop CPU you can buy.
When considering a Coffee Lake build you MUST choose a Z370 chipset. I happen to love ASRock boards for their built-in features, easy UEFI BIOS overclocking, and pure aesthetics. My favorite series is the EXTREME series of boards and the Extreme 4 has been my lasting favorite.
Z370 has set some confusion in the PC building space. Everyone was wondering since Coffee Lake is socket 1151, why can't we have backward compatibility with Kaby lake? I covered this briefly above, but it comes down to the extra core counts and this requires more power. The CPU has built-in lockouts in the microcode to keep vendors from allowing this in UEFI updates. Even though Z370 doesn't bring that much different physically, having the extra power brings a bit better overclocking than over Z270. There is more control over per core overclocking, memory ratios, Ring/System Agent, and PLL trim controls. If you don't know what any of those are I suggest you read up on Intel overclocking which you can find here.
One of my favorite features of the Extreme series boards is it's rock solid VRM. With Intel 8th Gen this means a smoother power delivery, better temperatures, and better stability.
The Extreme 4 offers Hyper DDR4 which offers a huge boost. Unlike traditional memory signal designs, Hyper DDR 4 isolates the memory circuitry improving the signals for compatibility, stability, and performance.
Another great feature from ASRock is its dual slot ultra m.2 slots. They offer two of the worlds fastest PCIe Gen3 x4 Ultra m.2 slots that can deliver up to 32Gb/s.
The Z370 Extreme 4 offers:
- Supports 8th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors (Socket 1151)
- Digital PWM, 12 Power Phase
- Supports DDR4 4333+(OC)
- 3 PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 (Key E)
- NVIDIA® Quad SLI™, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™
- Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
- 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec)
- Supports Purity Sound™ 4 & DTS Connect
- 8 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
- 2 USB 3.1 Gen2 10Gb/s (1 Type-A + 1 Type-C)
- 9 USB 3.1 Gen1 (1 Front Type-C, 4 Front Type-A, 4 Rear)
- Intel® Gigabit LAN
- ASRock RGB LED
- Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
The Dominator Platinum kit I'm using in this Z370 build is 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4 3200MHz (CMD16GX4M2B3200C16).
When it comes to memory look no further. The Dominator Platinum kit from Corsair is the bee's knees. As Duke Nukem would say: "Hail To The King Baby". I probably should say "just look above at the picture", but I will get into detail.
Corsair labels their Dominator line as the world's most advanced memory. It's highly screened ICs, specially selected, and offers DHX cooling technology. With the built-in XMP 2.0 support, you can expect trouble-free automatic overclocking. You also get support for Corsair Link monitoring and customization for enhancing the LED lighting with specialty light bar kits.
The critical thing about these modules is its lifetime limited warranty. This is the first time I have used a Dominator Platinum kit, and now I will have trouble using standard modules. They look absolutely fantastic and adds an appealing aesthetic to any system.
Corsair really has had a long history for enthusiast grade components, and in my opinion have earned the reputation of quality, compatibility, and performance. I have also had great personal customer service from them over the years.
The Specifications are as follows:
- Density: 16GB (2x8GB)
- Speed: 3200MHz
- Tested Latency: 16-18-18-36
- Voltage: 1.35V
- Format: Unbuffered DIMM
- Pin Out: 288 Pin
- Intel XMP 2.0
- Heatspreader: Aluminum with DHX
When it comes to pure gaming performance try to find a good kit for your budget as RAM is in high demand right now. DDR4 which is used in this system build is what's used with current Intel/Ryzen CPUs. The Dominator kit used here is excessive but will offer a perfect smooth gaming experience. The 3200MHz kit will have a big impact on overall overclocking performance and keep your systems running really smooth for a long time.
The only drawback for these modules is going to be the price. The old saying: "You pay for what you get" holds value here. These modules in my opinion although expensive, are worth every penny you'll pay.
My absolute favorite GPU company is Zotac. As a company, they believed in me when I first started reviewing products and gave me a chance when others wouldn't. Beyond that, they offer excellent customer service and their product design and cooling is phenomenal. They really listen to customer feedback and the GTX 1080 Mini above is the perfect example.
The GTX 1080 Mini is a GTX 1080 in a compact form. It takes the flagship GPU with the performance and allows for smaller system builds. I was a bit skeptical on the compact form for the Thermaltake P3 but it actually looks really good with the shorter PCB. They also take advantage of size with the 90mm and 100mm fans. The card offers "ICESTORM" cooling and has wide flat fan blades. This definitely helps maximize airflow over the 6mm copper heat pipes keeping the GPU nice and cool.
You have to consider what size monitor and what resolution your games will run at. If you're typically running games at 1080p (1920×1080) then a GeForce 1050 TI is an excellent choice. If you are running higher resolutions all the way up to 4k then you will want to consider a more power GPU to push those pixels. What's great about this Zotac GTX 1080 is it's compact but offers the same performance as a standard card. As a high-level gaming card, you can expect good performance with any modern titles and content creation.
The specifications are as follows:
- GPU- GeForce® GTX 1080
- CUDA cores- 2560
- Video Memory- 8GB GDDR5X
- Memory Bus- 256-bit
- Engine Clock- Base: 1620 MHz / Boost:1759 MHz
- Memory Clock- 10 GHz
- PCI Express- 3.0
- Display Outputs- 3 x DisplayPort 1.4 / HDMI 2.0b / DL-DVI
- HDCP Support- Yes
- Multi-Display Capability- Quad Display
- Recommended Power Supply- 500W
- Power Consumption- 180W
- Power Input- 8-pin PCI-E
- DirectX- 12 API feature level 12_1
- OpenGL- 4.5
- Cooling- Dual Fan
- Slot Size- Dual Slot
- SLI- Yes, SLI HB Bridge Supported
- Supported OS- Windows 10 / 8 / 7
- Card Length- 211mm x 125mm
- Accessories - Dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe adapter/ Driver Disk / User Manual
When it comes to a cooling choice for any build you have to consider what will work for you and what type of performance you want. Typically, if you're inexperienced, then I would stick with something easy like an AIO or even air cooling. Personally, I prefer custom exotic cooling, but Thermaltake wanted to show off their new Floe 360mm AIO.
There are still not too many 360mm AIOs on the market, but AIOs are extremely popular due to the ease of installation and being maintenance free. Whats great about this premium AIO is the compatibility between ThreadRipper, Ryzen, and Intel sockets.
The biggest trend right now is RGB, but Thermaltake as a company was the first to incorporate that into their fans, and they created the first digital fans with RGB control using proprietary software called RGB Riing Plus.
The Floe Riing RGB 360mm AIO has three 120mm Riing RGB fans and an RGB LED waterblock. This cooler offers some serious performance from the thick 360mm radiator and can be totally controlled by the Riing RGB software. The functions within the software allow users to monitor fan performance, track CPU temperatures, and control RGB lighting zones.
All of Thermaltake's liquid cooling has to go through a Tt LCS certification. Essentially, this is useful for making sure you are compatible with certain cases and configurations.
The specifications are as follows:
- Compatibility: Intel LGA 2066/2011-3/2011/1366/1156/1155/1151/1150 AMD AM4/FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
- Water Block: Material:Copper
- Pump: Rated Voltage:12 V/ 5V Rated Current:0.325 A / 0.4A Motor Speed:3600 R.P.M
- Fan: Dimension:120 x 120 x 25 mm Speed:500~1400RPM Noise Level:19.8 ~ 24.7 dB-A Rated Voltage:12 V Max. Air Flow:14.2~42.34 CFM Max. Pressure:0.17~1.54 mm-H2O Connector:5 pin
- Radiator: Dimension:360 x 120 x 27 mm
- Tube: Length:326 mm Material:Rubber
- Weight: 1610g
This is the first AIO 360mm Radiator I will be testing, so I am interested to see what amount of gains we will see going from an x2 120mm fan setup to x3. Typically AIOs are cheaper due to their aluminum design but a larger surface area should provide better thermodynamics.
Power supplies provide critical power to your PC, and it's important to find one with a good rating. The included Thermaltake PSU is 80 Plus Bronze certified, and that means the PSU is 82% efficient at 100% load. Typically using lower rated PSUs are fine for gaming and can also save you some money. I generally look for Gold certified but Bronze is an option if you want to save even more money. The lower the standard, the less efficient the PSU is at 100%. You can find more about PSU ratings here.
This Smart PRO Bronze PSU will be way more than enough to power this PC at 850W. Bronze just means it's not as efficient as a Platinum rating and should have no impact on overclocking.
Thermal take has really taken a hold on the RGB trend. Incorporating RGB into a PSU is a smart move and this unit has a pre-installed Riing 14 RGB fan. The fan offers 5 lighting modes and works from built-in memory. You can choose from 650W to 850W for the Bronze series and each offers a fully modular design. There is also a smart ultra-quiet mode called "Smart Zero Fan", and that can be enabled/disabled by a switch on the back.
The specifications are as follows:
- P/N: PS-SPR-0850FPCBxx-R
- Short P/N: SPR-0850F-R
- Model: SPR-850AH3FSB-R
- Type: ATX 12V v2.4 and EPS v2.92
- Max. Output Capacity: 850W
- Peak Output Capacity: 1020W
- Color: Black
- Dimension: (W / H / D ) 150mm(W) x 86mm(H) x 170mm(D)
- PFC:（Power Factor Correction) Active PFC
- Power Good Signal: 100-500 msec
- Hold Up Time: > 16msec at 75% load
- Input current: 15A
- Input Frequency Range: 50Hz - 60Hz
- Input Voltage: 100V - 240V~
- Operating Temperature: 0°C to + 40°C
- Operating Humidity: 20% to 90%,non-condensing
- Storage Temperature: -40°C to + 70°C
- Storage Humidity: 20% to 95%, non-condensing
- Cooling System: 14cm hydraulic bearing fan
- Efficiency: 80 PLUS® Bronze at 115Vac input.
- MTBF: 100,000 hrs minimum
- Safety Approval: CE/cTUVus/TÜV SÜD/FCC/CCC/BSMI/EAC
- Pin Connector: PCI-E 6+2pin X 4
- Protection: OCP, OVP, UVP, OPP, SCP, OTP
If you guys haven't heard of My Digital Discount you should check them out here. You can get excellent performing SSDs for a lot less money. I will be using their SSDs here for this build, and this includes an NVMe drive and 2x SSDs in RAID 0. They are another company that is always there for me when I need them. I have been working closely with these guys to solve some issues when Ryzen launched and they really value their customer's feedback.
The drive above is their BP5e Slim series which offers excellent Read/Write performance. You can expect Reads up to 565MB/s and Writes up to 524MB/s. The drive offers the PHISON S10 controller, low power consumption, and Toshiba TLC Flash. Whats outstanding here is a 480GB SSD with Toshiba Flash and a PHISON controller for under $200.00.
The specifications are as follows:
- Unequaled price to performance ratio
- PHISON PS3110 controller
- Toshiba TLC Toggle Flash
- Large storage capacity
- Easy installation
- High-speed SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III) interface
- Backward compatible to SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II)
- Withstand extreme shock and vibration
- Support DDR3 I/O interface
- Power management supported
- NCQ command set
- TRIM support
- RAID support
- SMART support
- 3-year warranty
NVMe has become the performance standard for drive storage. Just like above, you can expect an excellent performing drive for less with the MyDigital brand. The MyDigial BPX line uses PCIe 3.0 x4 that features a Phison E7 controller. NVMe(Non-Volatile Media Express) is offering major improvements by eliminating legacy AHCI commands in replacement of the PCIe interface. This offers huge gains in speeds of GB/s rather than MB/s.
The Phison E7 controller was built to ensure high-speed transfers and supports the NVMe 1.2 interface. This maximizes bandwidth while lowering latency and power consumption. You can expect great performance during heavy workloads with the BPX line of SSDs.
If you're looking for a decent upgrade to your PC, then an SSD can offer noticeable improvements right away. If more power is needed beyond traditional SSDs, then an NVMe drive can offer benefits that dramatically improve boot times, transfer speeds, and game load times. This comes in very handy for high workloads and demanding applications.
The model being used is the BPX 480GB NVMe SSD: The drive is installed in the Ultra m.2 slot closest to the CPU.
The specifications/benefits are as follows:
- Phison E7 (PS5007-E7) Controller
- 2D MLC with 4-plane High-performance NAND
- NVM Express® 1.2 Interface
- PCI Express® Gen 3 x4
- Small and Easy-to-install M.2 Form Factor
- End-to-End Data Path Protection
- AES-256 Encryption
- Power Loss Protection using Intelligent Cache Management
- Low Power Mode Supports L1.2
- Built-in Voltage Detector for Power Failure Protection
- Built-in Voltage Regulators GPIO pins and Built-in UART
- Hardware ECC (BCH) up to 120bit/2KB
- Built-in Static and Dynamic Wear Leveling
- SMART, TRIM, and RAID Support
- Smart ECC™ - RAID ECC Protection
- Windows & OSX Support
- 5 Year Limited Warranty
- Unmatched price for performance - up to 2.6/1.3GB/s sequential read/write
- Outperforms SATA SSDs transfer speeds by over 4X
- MyDigitalSSD's fastest gaming SSD that noticeably reduces load times
- Provides a more immersive user experience for increased productivity
- Optimized register interface and command set lowers latency
- Fast application launch and file loading
- Exceptional workload efficiency
- Ideal for intensive workloads such as Ultra HD (4K) video creation, CAD, data analysis, and engineering simulations
When it comes to PC cases don't skimp out! You have an opportunity here to display your hardware like a work of art. The P3 case from Thermaltake takes the best of both worlds for me as a reviewer. It offers Easy access to hardware, an open frame design, and provides an appealing aesthetic with good cable management. There is plenty of room in the rear motherboard tray and it offers a multitude of mounting options. For anyone wondering about building in this case, It's extremely easy. There is some assembly required, but this offers more configuration options to the builder.
The P3 is a DIY dream and supports up to a 420mm radiator. The open frame design makes watercooling extremely easy and allows you to also vertically mount your GPU. The entire frame is protected by a thick transparent window, and they even offer an option to wall mount your creation.
The specifications are as follows:
- Model: Core P3
- P/N: CA-1G4-00M1WN-00
- Case Type: Mid Tower
- Dimension: (H x W x D) 512 x 333 x 470 mm (20.2 x 13.1 x 18.5 inch)
- Net Weight: 10.3 kg / 22.7 lb
- Side Panel: Transparent Window
- Color: Black
- Material: SPCC
- Drive Bays: -Accessible: 2 x 3.5" or 3 x 2.5" (Outside the chassis) -Hidden: 2 x 3.5'' or 2.5'' (Inside the chassis)
- Expansion Slots: 8
- Motherboards: 6.7" x 6.7" (Mini ITX), 9.6" x 9.6" (Micro ATX), 12" x 9.6" (ATX)
- I/O Port: USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
- PSU Standard: PS2 PSU (optional)
- Fan Support: Left Side: 3 x 120mm 3 x 140mm
- Radiator Support: Left Side: 1 x 360mm 1 x 420mm
- Clearance: CPU cooler height limitation: 180mmVGA length limitation: 280mm (With Reservoir & Radiator) 450mm (Without Reservoir & Radiator) PSU length limitation: 200mm
In order to enter the UEFI BIOS for the Extreme 4, it's hitting the DEL key on your keyboard during startup. Once you're in the UEFI BIOS you can configure settings to your heart's content.
Before I even start overclocking I need to make sure my hardware works the way it should out of the box. The very first thing I do is load the UEFI and apply the "load defaults" selection and then prepare to install windows. For this system, before I can install Windows, I need to set up the RAID and drive settings.
I need to set up the RAID for the SSDs and configure the UEFI to recognize both the NVMe drive and the RAID array. This is harder than it sounds because you can't just start plugging in SATA cables and expect the drives to show up. The reason this is more difficult is certain SATA ports can become disabled when one or the other is in use or bandwidth is set aside for the m.2 slot. You MUST check your motherboard manual because each board can be different.
Becuase I'm using setting up two drives in a RAID, I need to set "SATA Mode Selection" to the Intel RST option. I also had to scroll down to each SSD drive where it shows up as detected and select "SSD" instead of the "HardDrive" option. The m.2 drive sets its own bandwidth and speeds automatically.
Once everything is configured install your Operating System(OS) and make sure everything works at stock settings.
Before you overclock your system, I can take no responsibility for any damaged hardware that may result from overclocking. There are risks involved with pushing your system further than its intended and also causes more system heat as a result. You need adequate cooling for overclocking, and decent hardware to achieve anything good.
Also, keep in mind that overclocking your system will vary across different types of hardware, and even using the same hardware I used may not provide the same results. The other thing to think about here is Coffee Lake and Kaby lake overclocking are pretty much going to be the same process.
With this ASRock board, there are a few ways to overclock. In my opinion, they have one of the easiest ways to overclock and this involves built-in profiles. I will show you just how easy this is and also get into more advanced tweaking as well.
Before you start overclocking the first step is DON'T! You need to make sure that your system is running well before you do any overclocking. Once you're in Windows make sure you either run a few quick stress tests or play a few games to make sure your system is running well. This can really help eliminate or reduce any problems that might occur after overclocking your hardware.
First get all your appropriate drivers installed and make sure your system is running the way it's intended to.
Before I overclock, I also like to adjust my fan curves and profiles. The Extreme 4 has great fan control from the UEFI BIOS under "H/W Monitor". You can manually adjust your CPU curve or just use the automatic tuning. This will automatically adjust your fan curve based on the PWM fans and CPU cooler your using. This is great for 4 pin PWM fans, for your CPU air cooler, or AIO pump. In my case, this is only relevant to the AIO pump for the Floe. The other fans connected are digitally controlled with the included HUB.
Once everything is determined safe and stable you can head into the UEFI to start overclocking under the "OC Tweaker Page".
The easiest way to overclock with this Extreme 4 board is using the built-in profiles.
There is a "Load Optimized CPU OC Setting" under "OC Tweaker". Simply choose the profile you want and ASRock sets everything for you automatically. While this is extremely simple for people new to overclocking, it does have a few caveats. Since everything is set automatically, the voltage is overcompensated by a little bit but is not as bad as the "Automatic" voltage amount. There are calculated settings for SA & Ring voltages, Load-Line Calibration(LLC) and "CPU Cache Ratio". This is a very easy cookie cutter approach and surprisingly works extremely well.
Even though I understand the advanced settings, I still choose to use these profiles because they come very close to manual tuning. Typically, they will work without any stability issues. You can still manually tune their predetermined settings if you run into any problems. In the above example, the 4.7 GHz profile sets 1.35 on the Vcore but my 8700K can handle 4.7 on 1.30 just fine.
After you choose what profile you want, try to boot into your PC and check for any stability issues. If you don't see any problems, you can go back into the UEFI and try a lower Vcore or finetune anything else as necessary. Make sure you're overclocking the multiplier/voltage in increments, this will help make the process less painful.
After you set up your CPU to your stable frequency you can go ahead and set your XMP value for your RAM. I recommend doing this after you check for stability with your chosen profile. XMP will automatically set your Overclock profile for your RAM kit. In my particular instance, my Dominator Platinum kit was set to the advertised 3200Mhz speeds. You have to remember that setting anything outside of the supported DDR4 speed for the 8700K is considered overclocking. You RAM is not guaranteed to work with the advertised speeds on anything other than stock settings.
I typically have never had an issue with this and I try to find a balance between my overclock settings and my XMP values. I do have to state "Core is king", and if you are going for absolute speed, then try to get your CPU as high as it will go and then find what speed your memory is stable at. You may find that you can hit 5GHz, but only at 2800MHz instead of 3200MHz. If you are finding stability issues with XMP, you can tune System Agent and CPU VCCIO.
I'm going to get into more advanced settings here to help fine tune this overclock. If you're new, you may want to stick with the built-in profiles for relying on ASRock's chosen values. They are pretty good, but if you want more performance, need lower temperatures or better stability than tweaking certain settings can help.
I was able to get my 8700K to 4.7GHz with my 3200MHZ XMP values at 1.30V. I chose to leave the VCCSA/VCCIO at AUTO because they were spot on to where I would have manually tuned them. ASRock has some sort of magic on some of these settings but does overcompensate on automatic voltage. They do have a BETA BIOS out that Improves CPU Vcore voltage and cache ratio settings. The new BIOS does improve stability and can be found here.
Setting Voltage in increments is always a good idea when overclocking, the values I used are what worked for me, and are just a starting or reference point for others. Overclocking and voltage will vary from system to system so any values I suggest are just to help others try to achieve their overclocking goals and are not 100% guaranteed.
- DDR4 frequency range: DDR4-2133 ~ DDR4-2800 Required CPU VCCIO Voltage range: 1.05V~1.15V Required CPU System Agent Voltage range: 1.05V~1.15V
- DDR4 frequency range: DDR4-2800 ~ DDR4-3600 Required CPU VCCIO Voltage range: 1.10V~1.25V Required CPU System Agent Voltage range: 1.10V~1.30V
- DDR4 frequency range: DDR4-3600 ~ DDR4-4266 Required CPU VCCIO Voltage range: 1.15V~1.30V Required CPU System Agent Voltage range: 1.20V~1.35V
To configure the Cache Ratio, use the same method to overclock that you do with the CPU cores. It's not recommended to increase the CPU Core/Cache voltage just for more frequency. For normal workloads, the performance increase of the Cache Ratio is negligible. You can most likely leave this alone unless you want to fine-tune it for some extra performance. You do NOT want this higher than your CPU multiplier, and lowering this below your multiplier by a few 100MHz can help stabilize your target overclock.
The voltage is applied automatically by your input Voltage from the Vcore, or what they call "CPU Core/Cache Voltage". This is applied in the UEFI under "Fixed Voltage(V)" mode.
For adjusting the voltage you have a few options. You can leave this on AUTO but be warned you will use excessively more voltage than what's required but will most likely be stable, you can select Fixed Mode and key in what you want your voltage to be, or choose offset mode which will be better for fine-tuning voltage during idle/load states.
The offset is useful for having sort of AUTO/Manual voltage tuning to lower and higher your Vcore when needed based on loads. The offset voltage you input adds(+) or subtracts(-) from what your board determines to be a good starting point. This will be different depending on your chip and board being used. I usually stick with the Fixed option with C-States enabled and find this easier to manually control. It takes a bit of trial and error for "Offset Voltage" but if you have enough patience you can get better results for your temperatures. The "Offset Voltage" is determined by Millivolts(mV) for the added/subtracted amount from your determined Vcore.
In the above example, 37 is the default value ASRock chose for the 4.7GHz profile. This is a whole 1GHz or (1000MHz) lower than my multiplier and you can probably get away with setting yours to 45 for increased performance. Remember though while this does increase performance its negligible in benchmarks, and will rarely be seen.
You can run AIDA64's Cache stress test to check if the applied Uncore overclock is stable. Adjust the Uncore frequency as necessary to achieve stability.
My 8700K at 1.30V is my personal comfort level when it comes to temperatures. I was 5GHz stable but my temps were above 80°C during stress tests. The Thermaltake 360mm radiator does a fantastic job at cooling the 8700K, but your results and comfort levels may vary.
I ran AIDA64 Extreme and ASUS Realbench for stability tests. Each test was run for 2 hours and completed 100% with zero errors. If you're finding Vdroop or possibly stability issues, you can check out what the LLC is set to. Increasing this can help with stability on some boards. Increasing or decreasing LLC levels depends on your motherboard. Some use 1 as the highest, while others go the opposite direction. Make sure you check your motherboard manual or read the description.
I personally find LLC level 2 to be a good start for any Vdroop problems and has a good balance of staying close to your target Vcore. If you are not familiar with what LLC is, check this out. Next, Let's tweak some more advanced settings under "CPU Configuration" to fine-tune this overclock.
Under "CPU Configuration" I like to set the FCLK to 800MHz which is the frequency tied to your base frequency (BCLK- typically 100MHz) and can be set to 4x(400MHz), 8x(800MHz), 10x(1000MHz) respectively. Set your Long Duration Power Limit to 4095 and your Short Duration Power Limit to 4095. Next, set your CPU Core Current Limit to 255.50. I'm not going into too much detail about these power limits, but if you raise them, a higher limit can improve overclocking. They can help maintain the time between when the CPU ratio is lowered and with higher limits you get better performance.
The other settings you can further tune here is your ability to set an "AVX Ratio Offset". This will take your CPU core and lower your limit when an AVX workload is detected. In this particular setting, it will lower the number inputted to the multiplier. This is very useful for maintaining temperatures and the only time I've ever used AVX was in Aida64 extreme stress testing. I would recommend setting this to 2 instead of 4 for a good balance. In this example, the 4 would represent 4.3Ghz or 4300MHz (47-4=43).
I also like to set C-States for enhanced system power saving features. I typically set these to the default desired values so when your system isn't doing anything intensive your CPU will clock down and conserve power appropriately. The lower speed is set in the CPU Microcode. For the 8700K, the Min speed is set to 800MHz and MAX CPU turbo is set to 3700MHz. Your overclock settings take precedence here but the speeds do get lowered when an idle state is detected. You do need to set your Windows Power Plan to "Balanced" for this effect to take place. If you have "High Performance" plan selected your CPU will run at your overclock speed 100% of the time. Let's get into how well this system performance and what type of performance you can expect.
I typically don't suggest specific Windows Builds in these guides but the new Fall Creators update is that good. If your starting from scratch or are looking for better performance, then Windows Fall Creators update has shown up to 30% gains for PC gamers. I'm not going to get into too much detail here, but if you're interested in the new features, check here. I also wanted to point out what build I was using in case there was any discrepancy with compared benchmarks.
The 8700K power test above includes the 4.7 overclock, and will only be lower when using stocks settings. I have it set so that under idle conditions my CPU speed drops as well as voltage. I will be testing the Watts used by using a KILL A WATT. This is a worse case scenario for this system, and If you're interested in the stock frequency load, it was 192W during a stress test. The load frequencies above are recorded during RealBench/Aida64 stress testing. The higher the watts(W) used, the more power is consumed. The lower the watts used the better and more efficient the load is.
Disclaimer: Results may vary based on computer configuration, environment, and testing methods.
I've stopped using AS SSD due to the inconsistent numbers you get with NVMe drives. The Benchmark Disk ATTO Seems to work well with both Ryzen and the newer Intel chipsets.
In this particular setup, we have our Operating System on the NVMe drive and most of my games/programs on the SSD RAID 0.
As with everything in the computer world It's constantly changing and the technology that comes with it. The storage industry has become affordable in the SSD market but is trending towards NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) as a replacement. NVMe SSDs are the enthusiast topic of interest right now. What NVMe does is it allows you to bypass the SATA standard altogether.
Traditional SATA has been limited to MB/s and NVMe allows you to reach in the range of GB/s! NVMe takes advantage of your PCIe lanes instead of the SATA interface which can be a bottleneck compared to PCIe and the advantages NVMe brings to the table. Modern motherboards and Intel CPUs take advantage of having the PCIe lanes tied directly to the CPU. This can be great for taking advantage of those m.2 drives that are available on most z97 boards and above.
The typical style of NVME drives you will see are in the m.2 variant or a PCIe card similar to a GPU. NVMe doesn't require a full x16 slot or the bandwidth from it and is closer to the bandwidth of an x4 slot. Please keep in mind on some older motherboards to make sure you check your manual because certain slots can disable other ones due to bandwidth limitations.
I went ahead and converted the scores to MB/s so you could see a clearer picture of performance across the drives. I also took the highest recorded Read / Write speed and that is what is displayed by each drive. You can see the BPX drives vs RAID 0 still has an advantage, and as expected is the clear winner.
Gaming on the 8700K is definitely a dream. I wanted to stick with 1080P so there was less stress on the GPU and more on the CPU. This will help find a good balance, and show what performance the 8700K is capable of. All the titles above just came out and use modern game engines. Surprisingly, the most taxing game above was Assasins Creed Origins.
As you can see above I was getting respectable FPS( Frames Per Second) and this system should have no trouble handling 4K(2160P) or 2K(1440P). The GTX 1080 really shows it's potential here when paired with the 8700K. I would say on average depending on the game, game settings, GPU, resolution, and overclock, you can expect about an 80 FPS average at the very least.
If you're interested in how the 1080 performs with the 8700K, check the AIDA64 extreme GPU benchmark above. The CPU scores/rates are used for reference only.
3D Mark sets the bar for performance testing. The higher the score the better and the TimeSpy benchmark is DX12 capable. This benchmark can really push systems to their limits evaluating how well it compares to others.
The 8700K runs very HOT! My comfort level is below 80°C and at 4.7 with 1.3V it hits that target quickly. The Floe 360mm does a decent job keeping the CPU cool considering its an AIO. The CPU was stress tested using the games above and max load(100%) was stressed using Aida64 Extreme/ASUS RealBench. The max load consists of 100% utilization of the CPU with AVX instructions to help maximize the temperature for benchmarking purposes. Normal gaming loads seem to be consistent with Intel and previous Kaby Lake benchmarks.
When it comes to PC gaming, peripherals are often overlooked for several reasons. Some things I can't suggest enough is a good mechanical keyboard, headphones, and mouse. There are way too many individual products in these categories to go through but I will go over a few new products that are noteworthy.
The MasterKeys line of gaming keyboards offers no gimmicks, just quality. Underneath all the flashy RGB is an ARM 32-bit Coretex processor. This offers unrivaled performance and accuracy. Thanks to the MasterKeys on-the-fly system, you can execute commands and macros in seconds. Each model offers CHERRY MX switches, and they offer Brown/Blue/Red switch types. This particular Keyboard is 87/88 Tenkeyless, offers a 1000Hz polling rate, and CHERRY MX Red switches. You can also change RGB lighting, set up profiles, record macros, and switch profiles without the need of any software. When you do want hassle-free software, the download is available here. You can buy the MastKeys S RGB Mechanical keyboard for $129.99 here.
The MasterKeys offers:
- Modell Number: SGK-6030-KKCM1-US (Brown Switch) SGK-6030-KKCL1-US (Blue Switch) SGK-6030-KKCR1-US (Red Switch)
- Switch Type: CHERRY MX
- Layout: 87/88 keys Tenkeyless
- Material: Plastic / Metal
- Color: Black
- LED Color: RGB
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
- Repeat Rate: 1x / 2x / 4x / 8x
- Response Rate: 1ms
- MCU: 32bit ARM Cortex M3
- On board Memory: 512KB
- On-the-fly system: Macro Record and Lighting
- Cable: Detachable with Micro-USB
- Software AP: Yes, Supports GUI Software
- Connector Cable: USB 2.0
- Cable Length: 1.5 Meters
- Dimensions: 359 x 130.8 x 39mm
- Product Weight (Without Cable): 930 g
- Warranty: 2 years
The MasterMouse MM530 is a serious upgrade from the normal mouse. It features a sleek ergonomic style and is ideal for palm grippers. The built-in Pixart 3360 offers a 1:1 input ratio with no lag and DPI levels up to 12000.
The MM530 is built to withstand serious punishment. The rubber grips are made to last and the Omron switches guarantee 20 million presses offering serious durability. All these factors add up to the incredible accuracy and performance you can expect from the MM530.
The software offers complete DPI control and you can change DPI increments from 100 to 12000. You also have control over the 3 RGB zones with 16.7 million color choices. If you love FPS(First Person Shooter) games, then I highly recommend the MM530. You can buy the MM530 for $49.99 here.
The MM530 offers:
- Product Name: MasterMouse MM530
- Product Model: SGM-4007-KLLW1
- Grip Type: Claw / Palm
- Material: Plastic / Rubber
- Color: M14 Black
- LED Color: 16.7 Million RGB
- Sensor: Pixart PMW-3360 Optical
- CPI / DPI 4 Levels: (100~12,000dpi)
- Tracking Speed: 250 ips / 50 g
- Lift Off Distance: < ~2mm / Adjustable
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz / 1 ms
- Angle Snapping: On / Off
- Mouse acceleration: No
- Programmable Profiles: 5
- Processor: 32 bit ARM Cortex M0
- On-board Memory: 512 KB
- Switches, Lifespan: Omron, 20 million
- Programmable buttons: 7
- Body coating: Matte UV Coating
- Connector: Gold-plated
- Cable Length: Flexible Cable, 1.8 Meters
- Dimensions: (mm/inch) 60.4 x 40.2 x 124.8 mm 2.38 x 1.58 x 4.91 inches
- Weight: 132.5 g / 0.29 lbs
- Weight (without USB Cable): 99 g / 0.22 lbs
- Warranty: 2 years
- EAN Code: 4719512060339
- UPC Code: 884102032998
I have to throw this mousepad in for fun and you crazed RGB fanatics. Tt offers two versions of this with a hard or soft surface. If you love RGB and want every part your PC covered with it, then this product is for you. This is a mouse pad that has illuminated RGB and gives your desk space an improved look. Tt calls this the DRACONEM RGB mouse surface and offers easy control of lighting through hardware control or software. I have tested the hard tuned surface and it does feel good when playing fast-paced games like shooters. Most people often overlook things like their mouse pad, but with RGB as the main selling point now, RGB can help personalize the color and look of any setup. You can buy the Draconem RGB mouse surface for $39.99 here.
The Draconem RGB hard edition Mouse Surface offers:
- DIMENSION- 355 X 255 X 4 MM, 13.98 X 10.04 X 0.16 IN
- SURFACES- SPECIAL OPTIMIZED SURFACE COMPATIBLE
- BASE- NON-SLIP RUBBER BASE
- FEATURES- ON-THE-FLY CUSTOMIZABLE COLOR OPTIONS / FULL LIGHT WITH RGB COLORS / TWO BUTTON CONTROL
- WEIGHT(G)- 420G
If you're a stickler for having the best looking PC, then those ketchup & mustard cables must go. Sleeved cables are for looks and is not a necessity for building a PC. To go along with my PC build I'm using Thermaltake's custom sleeved extension cables. Custom sleeved PSU cables or extensions can really add an aesthetically pleasing look and cohesion to your overall PC theme. You can choose from a variety of colors but this will set you back $54.00. The investment is worth it because you can hook the extensions up to any PSU and the kit comes with all the extensions and cable combs you will need to make your PC look awesome.
The Thermaltake custom PSU extensions offer:
- 1 x 24 Pin ATX Extension Cable
- 1 x 4 + 4 Pin EPS Cable
- 2 x 8 Pin PCI-e Cable
- 2 x 6 Pin PCI-e Cable
- 4 x 24 Pin Cable Comb
- 12 x 8 Pin Cable Comb
- 8 x 6 Pin Cable Comb
- Compatibility: Universal Power Supply
Remember those things called soundcards! They can still offer a superior sound experience over motherboard audio. The Sound Blaster AE-5 offers Hi-Resolution audio and RGB Aurora Lighting. It's a PCIe SABRE32 soundcard and DAC with Xamp technology.
The Xamp is a custom designed discrete headphone amplifier. Each audio channel is individually amplified allowing ultra low impedance. The AE-5 is capable of 32-bit/ 384kHz playback with a 122dB DNR. This essentially helps lower distortion and jitter from occurring.
What ties this package together is the software's BlasterX Acoustic Engine. The Xamp can simulate 7.1 virtual spatial sound and the BlasterX software allows audio processing enhancements offering the best effects for your speakers and headsets.
Scout 2.0 can expand your horizon further offering the worlds first smart gaming companion. You can enable a radar on your mobile device that visually shows you where enemies are in FPS games. If your an audiophile then you definitely want the AE-5. You can buy the Sound Blaster AE-5 for $149.99 here.
The AE-5 offers:
- Power- PCIe bus power, +5V for Aurora lighting (requires 4-pin molex peripheral connector from PC power supply)
- Audio Technology- BlasterX Acoustic Engine
- Dynamic Range (DNR)- 122dB
- Connectivity Options (Main)- 1 x TOSLINK Optical Out, 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) Mic In/Line In, 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) Headphone/Headset Out, 1 x 1/8" Front Out, 1 x 1/8" Rear Out, 1 x 1/8" Center/Sub Out
- Connectivity Options (Accessory)- 1 x Front Panel Header, 1 x RGB LED Header (support 5V RGB strips)
- Headphone Amp- Supported Headphone Impedance: 16 - 600 Ω
- Audio Technologies- CrystalVoice, Scout Mode
- Supported Operating Systems- Windows® 7, Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 10
- Dimensions- 145 x 20 x 128 mm
- Platform- PCIe
- Recommended Usage- Gaming, Home Entertainment
While a pair of good headphones may be critical to gaming, a good set of speakers can also create a fantastic audio experience. The Sound Blaster Kratos S3 speakers are packed with 2x 2.75" satellites and a 5.25" down-firing subwoofer. They are designed for gamers who need fantastic entry level speakers. The speaker set offers 92 watts of power to give you that extra "oomph" and the speakers are optimized for the BlasterX Acoustic Engin Lite.
More audio control and enhancements can be experienced over the AE-5 BlasterX software, and When paired with the AE-5 you can experience the best Creative has to offer. If you're looking for a good set of starter speakers, then I highly recommend the Sound Blaster Kratos S3. You can buy the speaker set for $79.99 here.
The Sound Blaster Kratos S3 set offers:
- Dimensions (H x W x D)- Satellites: 158 x 95 x 102 mm, Subwoofer: 227 x 170 x 227mm
- Weight- Subwoofer: 2.4kg, Left Satellite: 0.5kg, Right Satellite: 0.6kg
- System Configuration- 2.1 system
- Connector Type- Analog
- Color- Black
- 2 x Sound BlasterX Kratos S3 Satellites
- 1 x Sound BlasterX Kratos S3 Subwoofer with Power Cord
- 1 x Warranty and Technical Support Booklet
- 1 x Quick Start Guide
- 1 x Safety and Regulatory Leaflet
For Sound BlasterX Acoustic Engine Lite
- Intel® Core™2 Duo or AMD® equivalent processor (2.8 GHz or faster recommended)
- Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard
- Microsoft® Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8.0 32/64 bit, Windows 7 32/64 bit
- 1GB RAM
- >600 MB of free hard disk space
The above product is what I call a premium headphone stand. Give your headset a home and be proud of it. If your the type of person who must have RGB everything, then the above product is for you. Meet the ST100 RGB headphone stand from Corsair. It has RGB lighting, 7.1 virtual surround sound via the 3.5mm jack, and two high-speed USB ports.
This product adds a fantastic layer of visual beauty to your desk and offers aluminum construction for good durability. I always find myself wanting to stick my headphones somewhere, and this offers a multi-purpose solution. The ST100 works with the Corsair (CUE) software to control your RGB zones and easy-to-use presets. The stand offers a 2-year warranty and can be bought for $59.99 here.
Building a PC like this has its ups and downs. You have to consider every part in order to keep up with your expectations and your budget. If you have the time and money its always better to custom build your PC and tailor it to your needs. When it comes to gaming it's important to put your money into your GPU and if you simply want the best then make sure you understand what that means for you. Having the opportunity to build a system like this is a lot of fun. It takes some patience but is totally worth the time and money. I hope this guide at least helps some people and even encourages some new PC builds.