When building PC’s, the usual rule is to making sure that parts complement each other – you don’t usually mix high end parts with entry level. The main purpose of this is to optimize and balance the performance of individual components relative to the system – or avoiding the so-called “bottleneck”. Aside from this, there’s also the question of what’s the most value that a user can possibly get from a full build, and not spend more than their usage.
The truth is, not everyone has the exact same purpose for their PC’s as anyone else. All builds are unique. The way people use these personal PC’s can end up completely opposite as what it was meant for. Most bottlenecks, in most scenarios, can be appear in very specific types of high-performances usage, such as high-end gaming, content creation, overclocking, or aggressive multitasking.
(Of course, we’re really just trying to justify what we’re doing but the reality is, it’s just really, really fun to try out different builds and see what they can be meant for. And that’s exactly what we’re here to try out.)
For this build, Intel provided us with their 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400F processor for desktops. Currently one of the latest CPU’s available in the market, expectations were pretty high for it (and it didn’t disappoint!). Aside from this, MSI already provided their latest high-end motherboard, the MSI MAG Z590 Tomahawk WIFI. On the GPU side, prices are a little bit high due to shortage, so we opted not to get a 30-series GPU. Instead, we went with a GTX1660, which is still generally capable even though it’s considered a midrange level graphics card. Overall, it’s a mix of high-end parts with some upper-entry level components, here’s the full build breakdown:
Parts and Boxes:
Intel Core i5-11400F
This CPU is probably one of the best mainstream gaming CPU’s available in the market. It’s a 2.6Ghz 6-core, 12-thread with a 4.4Ghz Turbo frequency. It also supports 20 lanes of PCIE Gen4.0 and dual-channel DDR4 3200Mhz memory. Overall it’s quite a fantastic CPU and a great value for money at its current price point.
Building the PC Process
For this type of benchmarks, we wanted to see how the overall system would compare to similar systems that have already been uploaded in 3DMark database. 3DMark benchmarking normally computes based on the CPU + GPU combination, but it usually translates to similar real-life gaming performance.
Timespy has managed to balance both GPU and CPU performance and is made more for modern or newer graphics cards and CPU’s that can maximize the DirectX 12 API. In this case, it would be more conclusive to say that the Timespy scores offer a better picture of the balance of the entire system.
The Timespy scores are much more important, and the results proved to be much more closer to each other. For the Timespy score, this build actually scored higher than the average!
Nevertheless, both Timespy and Firestrike scores show that it can be able to run some games comfortably at 60+ FPS at high to ultra settings, and even more, which should be sufficient for most gamers. However, with the use of a fast refresh rate monitor such as the MSI Optix G241, the system would not be able to satisfy it to its peak performance just yet. So we also tested the entire build in other games as well:
Normally, min and max FPS for game tests are not really that important, but for the purpose of this review, we still included it in the chart. For Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Assassins’ Creed Valhalla, we used the in-game benchmarking tool. For Jedi: Fallen Order and Metro Exodus, we played the game and tested it over the course of multiple maps.
Game benchmarks showed that the entire system was overall great for 1080P gaming and most could reach the 60 FPS target for playable games, except Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. In most games, CPU utilization was not so high and was averaging around ~50-60%, except with Metro Exodus which was utilizing 70-100% for some scenes. Except for this game, the others usually had more GPU utilization than CPU and it was normal for the GPU to reach 100%.
One observation throughout the testing process was also that the entire system, particularly the GPU, did get pretty hot. With ambient room temperatures at around 27 degrees, idle CPU temps were around 40-55 degrees.
Running Cinebench R23 which stresses the PC to almost 100% made the CPU temp run until 94 degrees, which was a little bit alarming although not surprising, considering one major flaw of the build: the case airflow.
As you can see there are no top fans pushing out air. Thus, air circulation was not too great. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fit the radiator on the top part due to the lack of clearance on the motherboard on the top. We were forced to put the radiator on the front part, which already had a 120mm fan pulling in air from the bottom.
Some Other Build Comments
It’s a beautiful build altogether, but initially there would be a few things we wanted to comment first, if only basing on the power of the CPU:
- Z590 might seem like a little bit of an overkill for an i5-11400 build, but actually PCIE Gen4 compatibility and the multitude of advanced ports on the Z590 are good options to future-proof the build. A B560 motherboard would also be sufficient. Additionally if the motherboard were to be changed, it is generally not recommended to get a Z490 or B460 motherboard for 11th gen CPU’s as of the moment since they are not a good value as of Q4 2021.
- The SATA-based T-Force Delta RGB SSD should definitely be reconsidered, since PCIe Gen3x2 NVMe SSD’s now have a significantly better overall value compared to SATA SSD’s due to their price/performance ratio. For this setup, we wanted to check if the SATA SSD would have a drastic effect on overall performance. It did. Overall game loading times were terribly much slower compared to our experience with a PCIE SSD, which the motherboard can actually support.
- MSI MAG A550BN PSU has non-modular cables, and for a little bit more it could be upgraded to the modular MSI MPG versions. It’s a matter of taste, but generally speaking modular is the way to go for future case upgrades.
- MSI MAG Shield 110R is an entry level case with generally limited features, not enough fans, and a cramped back panel. For a tiny additional amount it could be upgraded to the FORGE or VAMPIRIC models from MSI, which are much better options.
Doing an Intel Core i5-11400F + Z590 + GTX1660 Super build is an great combination and did very well during our tests, but we somehow feel that the CPU is just too powerful. It was not being able to maximize its full potential and a little bit dampened by the GPU performance. Replacing it with an RTX 3060 card might be able to complement it much better, but as we mentioned earlier – it’s just not cost effective as of now. The Z590 motherboard definitely contributed to a stable performance all throughout, and would still be able to support additional upgrades for GPU, storage, and others since it’s still one of the newest boards available in the market. However, due to the Z590’s high price point, some users might still opt for a B560 motherboard instead, which would still be okay but not as great as the MSI’s Z590 offering.
Nevertheless, with this kind of system combination, it can be sure that overall gaming performance can still be very good, and definitely ready and future-proof for bigger upgrades in the future.