We’re back again for the final phase of our inaugural Build-A-Rig Challenge, the performance showdown.

For this first round we are starting with a subject near and dear to our hearts, higher-end gaming systems. For around $1500 we believe you can put together a rather nice system, so for the first Build-A-Rig we decided to put this to the test, creating a contest to see how our friends in the PC components industry would do at picking parts for a $1500 system. Competing in this first round are Corsair and Zotac, with Chinny Chuang from Zotac and Dustin Sklavos from Corsair taking on the challenge for their respective companies.

Last month we kicked things off with the interviews, talking to Chinny and Dustin about their choice in parts and design goals, and looking at their submitted parts lists. Then last week in our Build Logs for this round, we put the systems together for testing, documenting the build process, how easy the systems were to assemble, and collecting various thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the respective builds.

Now for the final phase of this round of Build-A-Rig Challenge we have run the assembled Zotac and Corsair systems through our benchmark suite in order to document their performance and crown a winner. With a $1500 price tag and a loosely defined goal of putting together a solid gaming system, Zotac and Corsair have submitted designs that are both alike and divergent at times, an excellent showcase of the many different ways one can build a gaming system.

Last but certainly not least of course is the giveaway. At the end of the Build-A-Rig challenge we will be giving these systems away, and that means today is the last day to enter. Two lucky winners within the United States will be receiving these completed systems for their gaming pleasure. So if you have yet to enter, you will want to do so before midnight tomorrow, August 6th.


The Builds So Far

Last week we took a look at the assembled Corsair and Zotac designs. So before jumping into our benchmarks, let’s quickly recap the systems and their parts.

Zotac’s Hey Good Lookin

Zotac's Hey Good Lookin'
Component Selection Price
as Chosen
Processor (CPU) Intel Core i5-4460 $189.99 $189.85
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK $139.99 $138.17
Graphics Cards (GPU) Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition $369.99 $369.99
Memory (DRAM) Corsair Dominator Platinum
2x4GB DDR3-1866 C9
$99.99 $104.27
Storage (SSD/HDD) Crucial BX100 500 GB SSD $189.99 $188.39
Power Supply (PSU) Rosewill Quark 750W Platinum $139.99 $135.31
Chassis NZXT S340 Black Steel
ATX Mid-Tower
$69.99 $69.99
CPU Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX* $109.99 $119.99
Operating System Windows 8.1 Full Version $119.99 $119.99
Extras SilverStone Sleeved
6-pin to 6-pin x2
$14.98 $14.98
SilverStone Sleeved
EPS12V 4+4-pin
$7.99 $7.99
SilverStone Sleeved
$12.99 $12.99
Samsung USB 2.0
External DVD Drive
$23.99 $23.82
Strip with Controller
$16.99 $16.99
Total   $1,506.85 $1,492.58

The first system out of the gate is Zotac’s Hey Good Lookin’. A design focused on blending performance with aesthetics, the Zotac system looks significantly better for looks and cleanliness, Aside from the near-black internals accentuated by the lights from the GPU and the DRAM, cable management removes some of the more garish ends of the power supply should someone decide to shine a light in (or the eventual winner uses the LED kit also included in the bundle). A minor concern comes from the extra cable space behind the motherboard tray due to the large extension cables to improve the look, however once installed it becomes a relative non-issue.

Corsair’s The Accelerator

Corsair's 'The Accelerator'
Component Selection Price 
as Chosen
Processor (CPU) Intel Core i5-4690K $239.99 $237.62
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z97-HD3 $89.99 $97.99
Graphics Cards (GPU) Zotac GTX 980 Ti $649.99 $649.99
Memory (DRAM) Corsair Vengeance Pro 2x8GB 
DDR3-1866 C9
$104.99 $118.36
Storage (SSD/HDD) Corsair Force LS 240 GB SSD $94.99 $99.51
Power Supply (PSU) Corsair CS650M Gold $94.99 $94.99
Chassis Corsair Carbide 200R $59.99 $59.99
CPU Cooling Corsair Hydro H60 $64.99 $64.33
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit OEM $99.99 $99.99
Extras None    
Total   $1,499.91 $1,522.77

Our second system, Corsair’s The Accelerator, is the quintessential black-box PC designed to be used, not seen or heard. Featuring near top of the line components from Intel and NVIIDA, it can be quite hard to argue with the performance components under the hood, and as we’ll see it delivers monster performance results. However as the quintessential black-box PC, The Accelerator has nothing to show off if the winner wants to take it to LANs or ends up with it on their desk.

System Performance
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  • Refuge - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    It is down to perspective in the end.

    I like LED strips if done properly. I also thought the Zotac build was very pretty.
  • Mikemk - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    So will the winners be announced publicly?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    That's a good question. Our corporate parent technically executes the contest, so I'll check with them on the matter.
  • Drumsticks - Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - link

    These are cool! I hope you do them well into the future, it's exciting to see what the companies come up with and some friendly competition is always fun to watch.

    I'd love to see Dustin/future people who add unlocked CPUs to their builds have them tested with an overclock added by y'all - after all, it's a huge benefit and the CPU performance advantage for Corsair here is kind of understated without it.

    Either way, no surprises with the results. Both builds did what people really expected; nobody saw Zotac winning many performance runs, but then again, they weren't really trying to with their picks.
  • Gasaraki88 - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    I don't get what the point of this article is. You take a computer that has a slower processor and video card and compare it to one that has a faster processor and video card. OK, guess who's slower?
  • Ian Cutress - Thursday, August 6, 2015 - link

    It's part of our give-a-way contest project called Build-A-Rig. We give two companies a budget and ask them to spec down a rig. We then interview them about the industry and what they chose, and then we get the parts from our partner Newegg, build the systems, test them, and then give them away to our readers.

    Read the intro: http://www.anandtech.com/show/9403/
    Read the interviews and specification breakdowns: http://www.anandtech.com/show/9417/
    Read the build logs for each system: http://www.anandtech.com/show/9474/

    And this performance analysis is the final piece of the puzzle.
  • doggface - Sunday, August 9, 2015 - link

    When I first saw that h100i in the zotac build it didnt make sense. Using it to blow away the heat from the 970 is clever.
  • zerockslol - Saturday, August 15, 2015 - link

    Anyone else notice the inconsistency with prices in the 90 day average?
    I added up the 90 day averages and it reached $1512.72 you're welcome
  • zerockslol - Saturday, August 15, 2015 - link

    that was for Zotacs btw
  • Legionosh - Monday, August 17, 2015 - link

    While the Zoltac may look a little better, I'd much prefer the Corsair build due purely to performance reasons. The power consumption difference is nowhere near enough to warrant the performance difference in my opinion (and everyone has their own opinion).

    Granted the SSD does offer some performance benefits, but the difference in GPU and CPU performance more than makes up the difference for me. :-)

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