Today I will be looking at something just that little bit special from CCL and that is one of their very own motherboard bundles, the Elite Zeus II. This bundle offers users a meaty overclock guaranteed by CCL of 4.5Ghz which is a whole 1Ghz over and above what the Intel Core i7 3770K offers at stock.
I’m really excited to be reviewing this bundle because I’m not only testing the quality of the components, but also the build quality of the package overall. CCL has over 15 years of experience building and supporting computer systems. These bundles are a great way of customers being able to take advantage of this experience and get the most bang for their buck, so to speak.
The Elite Zeus II Overclocked Motherboard Bundle comes with some very impressive part which includes the following:
• Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad Core
• Corsair Memory Vengeance Jet Black 16GB
• Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H Motherboard
• Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Dual Fan Quiet CPU Cooler
As you can see, this is an impressive line-up and that shows that CCL know what they are doing when picking these components. They all complement each other to help with the impressive overclock but not only that, they’re also hopefully keeping it stable.
The bundle comes well packaged and nicely wrapped in a CCL branded box with plenty of care taken to ensure that the bundle does not get damaged or the pretty heavy CPU cooler becoming dislodged in transit. Inside the box, we have the components readily assembled and good to go with all the manuals and disks that you will need to get your Windows operating system up and running.
Let’s have a look at the components that have gone into the build… First off is the fantastic Intel Core i7 3770K CPU which is at the heart of the bundle. The 3770K, which as most CPU enthusiasts will know, has an unlocked multiplier and has fantastic overclocking potential and I’m sure that is why CCL picked it and got an overclock of 4.5Ghz.
The only downside is that if you were putting together a work station around this CPU you may suffer due to the lack of support for VT-d (Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O). VT-d in very brief terms means better I/O throughput, but like I said that is a very simple explanation, which means that if you wanted to do any real virtualisation with this bundle, it might limit it a little bit - but not too much.
The Corsair Vengeance DDR3 memory is a great addition to the setup and I use the exact model in my own personal computer. Not only is the memory blisteringly fast and a great overclocker, but the Zeus II comes with a whopping 16Gb of it (2 x 8Gb modules), which is more than enough for Windows 7 and Windows 8 and will have no issues running the latest games/software.
I have found that 16Gb is the perfect balance for overclocking with most modern chipsets as anything over 16Gb the overclock starts to become unstable. The memory is also Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) enabled, which means that it guarantees overclocked memory performance when picked up by the Gigabyte’s BIOS.
From there it is naturally onto the component that holds all these quality components together, the all-important motherboard. The Zues II comes with the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H Motherboard which has been recommended on other websites not just because of the value for money and features but also the overclocks that reviewers have been able to get out of the board itself.
As I said above, the board comes with some great features including the likes of multi GPU support, SATA3 (4 ports) and also USB 3.0 (6 ports). The Gigabyte also comes with DVI, HDMI and VGA out which means that you can run HD quality videos without the need of a separate graphics card.
That all said, the motherboard just looks fantastic, I have never really gelled with Gigabytes customary blue PCB boards but the GA-Z77X-D3H’s black colour scheme coupled with the same black heat sinks on the Corsair Vengeance memory, just make the bundle look awesome and it would be a crying shame not to have a case with a window!
So as I’ve previously said CCL have taken a lot of care with the picking of the components, not only are they quality parts, but they have chosen the best parts for overclocking the bundle to the extreme.
After surveying the motherboard, I noticed that there are no scratches on the motherboard where idle hands might have not taken care with a screw driver when assembling the bundle or TIM (Thermal Paste) residue around the heat sink mount or anywhere else on the motherboard.
The quality and care gone into assembling this great bundle is noteworthy, unlike like some of the other companies builds that I have seen in the past with scratches on the bottom and top of the motherboard where no care has been taken and volume is paramount. Also, another tell-tale sign of poor build quality is as mentioned earlier excessive TIM coming out of the side of the socket where there has been too much applied.
Overall the build quality of the bundle is fantastic with no scratches or any sign of mis-care on any of the parts. It is nice to see a company ensure that the utmost care and attention is put into the assembly of their bundles.
Now onto the testing! I have to say that this is the first bundle that I have used, but it may not be the last. I liked the fact that there is no CPU and heatsink to fit and no BIOS to setup with regards to the RAM or CPU. All I needed to do was quickly install the bundle into a case plug in such hardware as the storage, power supply and case connectors and away I go!
The first item that I noticed was the CPU cooler, the renowned Noctua NH-U12P SE2 even with its 2 fans this still managed to keep the 4.5Ghz overclock CPU very cool but also, and more important for me, very, very quiet. I couldn’t get over just how quiet it was considering the nature of the bundle.
After installing the Operating System, I wanted to see just how stable the overclock was under load. We all know the issues that overclockers are having with the heat from core i7 1155 CPUs due to their IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader) issues, I have known professionals to remove the IHS and rectify this issue (don’t try this at home). Even with the IHS issues the Noctua, as seen below, was doing a pretty good job of keeping the 3770K cool.
As you can see even though the CPU is a bit toasty, I’m not blaming the Noctua for this. As I wrote above the i7 1155 processors are notoriously hot and taking that into consideration, I thought that Noctua was doing a fantastic job. I ran Prime95 for around 5 hours and there were no blue screen errors or instability at all which is what I expected as the CCL-Tech Team informed me that they run Overclock Testing Tool and Prime95 for over 24 hours before sending the bundles out.
The best way to understand the performance of this bundle is to really demonstrate the difference with and without the overclock to show you just how fantastic this pre-overclocked bundle really is.
I installed and ran PCMark to see how the overclock would affect the performance of the bundle, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome as the bundle with the overclock scored an impressive 3126, which really blasted away the bundle when tested at stock speed, which I will go into more detail on a little later.
I then ran two SuperPi tests to see how the overclock faired in one of my favourite CPU benchmarking tools. I decided to run 2 tests, both the 1m and 8m. The 1m benchmark came back with an impressive 8 seconds to complete and the 8m benchmark came back with a 1.34 minutes to complete which was also quite an achievement.
I then dropped out of Windows into the Gigabyte uEFI BIOS to remove the overclock. But don’t be worried the guys at CCL do save your overclock, so if for some reason the BIOS loses your settings, say for example, in a power outage or you change a few settings that the bundle does not like then you can simply go back into the BIOS and load the settings from the one that CCL have saved (just be careful not to save over it).
After booting back into Windows, I then ran PCMark to see what score was for the bundle without the overclock. After PCMark completed it came back with a score of 2248 nearly a massive 1,000 points under what the overclock took the bundle to. It just shows how much an overclock can improve your processing power without having to spend a lot on more expensive hardware, this also shows the depth of experience and knowledge within CCL.
Now onto testing the non-overclocked bundle with SuperPI, of course I am doing the same tests as before the only difference is the bundle is no longer overclocked. The 1m benchmark completed in a time of a whopping 21 seconds which compared to the overclocked result is a life time. I expected a comparable 8m result and that is what was delivered with a time of 3.30 minutes which again when compared to the overclocked result of 1.34 minutes shows how much quicker the overclock is.
In conclusion the Zeus II is a fantastic pre-overclocked bundle and it is hard to put your finger on just one aspect of what makes it so good. To say the overclock alone is why the bundle is great would be unfair on all the other aspects of the bundle. From the choices in hardware, to the rock solid overclock and not to forget the great build quality this bundle. I would be confident in saying that it is fantastic for both new users that just want a pre-overclocked bundle, all the way up to a seasoned builder that does not have the time to overclock and test the stability.
The above coupled with a fantastic 3 year return to base warranty and brilliant over the phone technical support from CCL who received the highly commended award in the PC Pro Awards this year means that I can’t see any reason why you would not choose CCL as my supplier, not just for this fantastic and well-built bundle but any bundle within their overclocked range.