System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $650 Gaming PC

System Assembly

Assembly

This was a fairly simple build, with no major headaches but rather just a few minor annoyances and concerns.

First off, the 9.2” width of the GA-MA790X-UD4P motherboard is a bit odd, leaving it just shy of reaching the third row of motherboard standoffs. Considering this Rosewill case uses raised sheet metal rather than brass screw-in type standoffs, we came alarmingly close to having the motherboard make unwanted contact with the case. It fell just shy of doing that though, so we didn’t need to take precautions of insulating the unused row of standoff “hills.”

For added support, Gigabyte placed an extra motherboard mounting hole right at the bottom corner of the fourth DIMM socket. This hole didn’t match up with anything on the case itself, and with no supplied plastic standoff, we had to just leave this one blank. Even with this extra support in use, we would still suggest you use caution when attaching the GA-MA790X-UD4P’s main 24-pin power or any other connector that may put pressure on the unsupported end of the motherboard.

Mounting a HDD within the Wind Ryder consists of screwing four of the included special screws into the drive itself, and then sliding the drive into the mounting mechanism until it clicks into place. While this makes for quick removal of the drives (assuming no add-in cards are in the way), it does let the tail end of the hard drive rattle around a bit. Despite us not liking the arrangement as much as some of our past builds, it was still simple to set up. 

The trickiest part of this build was deciding on the placement of the hard disk drive within one of the four internal 3.5” drive bays. Although the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850s are only 9” cards, that length still brings them about a half an inch away from a mounted hard drive. We actually tested each HDD bay and found one would not work at all, while all three of the others still made it difficult to attach the 12V PCIe power leads and SATA HDD cables. The morals of this story is when using the Rosewill Wind Ryder, be sure and avoid multiple graphics cards over 9” and use even shorter graphics cards if you want to utilize all of the internal HDD bays.

The Wind Ryder also includes a screwless card-slot mounting system that we used, if only to be able to comment on its functionality. While it worked fine, we wouldn’t be inclined to use this plastic clasp and will be sure to remove it and screw in each card before shipping the PC to whoever wins it.

The last semi-issue was simple cable management, especially when mounting the motherboard’s external SATA slot bracket. While somewhat unsightly, we chose to mount this in the top slot, above the video cards, to avoid the possibility of interference with one of the graphics card fans. 

While we nitpicked a bit, the Rosewill Wind Ryder isn’t a bad case and is certainly a bargain for $30. It’s narrow, so watching the height of aftermarket CPU coolers and, of course, the length of the graphics cards is important when utilizing this chassis. The dual 120mm fans are a major plus. And while not particularly loud, the front intake fan seemed to be the most audible one in the system, which had a similar noise level as an Antec Three Hundred’s tri-cool fan on medium speed.   

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
94 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • anamaniac
    Wonderful. =D

    What about the new $100 quad core athlon with no L3?
    I know I like extra cores. Wonderful choice regardless.

    I wonder what the quad core athlon with a 512MB 5850 (which would increase the budget though) will be like. Both cheap yet highend parts. =D

    Nice to see what only a pocketful of cash can get you.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • dirtmountain
    A nicely done build, great work with overclocking on a stock cooler and an impeccable write up. Thanks for the great article Mr. Henningsen. AMD did a good job for a budget build, especially at stock clocks.
    9
  • one-shot
    Great article! It's crazy to see all of that packed into a case for only ~$650.
    6
  • Anonymous
    I usually love reading these, but this time I just went directly to the comment section. There's no point in building or owning an amd box, they are too weak compared to modern Intel/Nvidia based systems.
    -30
  • anamaniac
    Wonderful. =D

    What about the new $100 quad core athlon with no L3?
    I know I like extra cores. Wonderful choice regardless.

    I wonder what the quad core athlon with a 512MB 5850 (which would increase the budget though) will be like. Both cheap yet highend parts. =D

    Nice to see what only a pocketful of cash can get you.
    13
  • tacoslave
    i know it wasn't available at the time but what about that 100 dollar quad core the athlon II x4?
    6
  • rdawise
    Good article. I know you stated you were leaving the "unlocking" of the other cores to the winner of the contest, but were you guys able to unlock? If so, could you re-run those benchmarks? Again great article.
    1
  • stray_gator
    While "forcing" all AMD builds for a single marathon is a good idea, the timing is somewhat unfortunate.
    An article which explores the performance and value of a complete Lynnfield build is something I (and many others, i'd dare to guess) would like to see but haven't yet, and this month's SBM is a missed opportunity in that regard.
    4
  • jj463rd
    That's a bitchin budget gamer system especially looking at the gaming benchmarks.Just this month I was thinking about building a similar type of system with the Phenom II X2 550BE.I was going to go with gigabytes 785G type board (just one graphics card slot) though however I may reconsider that especially with what you presented here although I was shooting for a much cheaper budget build (about $180 less than what you have),Newegg did have a gigabyte 785G board with the Phenom II X2 and $20 off in a combo deal until the end of this month.
    I think that your choices were better than mine (more powerful).
    0
  • gkay09
    Another alternate mobo - 785G ...they are availbale in AM3/AM2+ flavours and have SB 710, which can allow core unlocking -http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128394
    But not sure about their o/c potential though...
    1
  • neiroatopelcc
    Nice to see a cheap system still using a quality motherboard.
    2
  • lvlouro
    ChairFaceI usually love reading these, but this time I just went directly to the comment section. There's no point in building or owning an amd box, they are too weak compared to modern Intel/Nvidia based systems.


    It's a budget build... I doubt that you could do any better with intel for this price, and seriously doubt that nvidia would be better.

    Face it nvidia is not the best right now. I own a 8800GT 512, it was/is an excelent card but just because nvidia did something awesome doesn't mean that presently it's the best choice.

    I really can't understand people who bias their choices based on the brand.
    My advice: don't buy a brand buy quality/performance/cost, it will save you some money and you'll be better served...
    8
  • jj463rd
    gkay09Another alternate mobo - 785G ...they are availbale in AM3/AM2+ flavours and have SB 710, which can allow core unlocking -http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128394 But not sure about their o/c potential though...

    Yeah that was the one in the combo deal with the Phenom II X2 550 BE.
    I was considering one Radeon 5850 card for it.I wonder how one Radeon 5850 compares to 2 Radeon 4850's CF'd.
    1
  • neiroatopelcc
    jj463rdI wonder how one Radeon 5850 compares to 2 Radeon 4850's CF'd.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5870,2422-16.html
    The new big brother of the new card's shown here. Given the minor differences in speed and a few shaders missing I'm guessing this chart's difference between 2x4870 and 5870 account more or less to the difference between a 5850 and 2x4850 (assuming 1gb memory, 512 just isn't enough for 2500, and at 1600 u only need one 4850 512mb in most games).
    In any event - consider the savings in power consumption when calculating cost. The new cards are so much cheaper to idle - and my 4870 idles most of the time.
    0
  • gkay09
    And why not this HDD? Wouldnt this be faster than that WD Blue ?
    Samsung F3 500GB
    $49.99 with Free Shipping
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181
    0
  • amnotanoobie
    Just a thought, would the Athlon II X4 be a better alternative if the user is geared towards productivity apps rather than games?
    0
  • neiroatopelcc
    amnotanoobieJust a thought, would the Athlon II X4 be a better alternative if the user is geared towards productivity apps rather than games?

    If a user is geared towards that, something with an i7 is a better choice. Just drop the graphics altogether (or get a 4650 or something).
    4
  • toxxel
    All hopes go to the winner of this system on a successful unlock of the 2 disabled cores, after throwing on a nice after market hsf. Though I wonder how this build would have went with a single 4870 1gb instead of two 4850's and an after market cooler was used bench wise with it running x4 not x2. Winner might want to do some research if unsuccessful at unlocking with the stock bios after reading buyer comments on the mb which bios version to flash(latest isn't always best).
    0
  • jj463rd
    You know after all it would be very hard to out do this budget system build especially if the cores are unlocked.Dang
    1
  • r0x0r
    Can I enter the competition if I live outside of the United States?
    0