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Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC
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Case: Rosewill Blackbone

With so much of our budget focused on performance, the aim here was to spend little as possible on the enclosure. However, Rosewill's Blackbone offers an undeniable value at $35. Anything less seemed like a huge sacrifice.

Ventilation is particularly attractive in this price range. The case includes two 120 mm fans, a front mesh panel, and room for two or three additional fans. Contrast that to the bulk of $25 cases, most of which rely on a single 80 mm exhaust fan. Not cool.

Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's Blackbone


Build quality is impressive for the price we paid, and many builders will appreciate the fancy screw-free drive clips and all-black interior finish.

The I/O panel located at the top of the front bezel is easily accessible, and it provides four USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, and two audio ports.

Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite RS-460-PSAR-J3

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Elite RS-460-PSAR-J3


Considering that the $550 PC we built back in June drew about 240 W at full load with a Radeon HD 5770, we knew this system would need even less power.

This knowledge, coupled with a very tight budget, set us searching through a sea of inexpensive power supplies (not a place we're used to looking) Skimping on the power supply is one of those novice mistakes that you make once, but never again, leading to stability issues, data corruption, and even premature hardware failure. In general, choose quality over marketing-drive wattage ratings or flashy bling.

Perhaps you're wondering why we picked Cooler Master's Elite 460 W unit here. Unlike the company’s well-regarded high-end offerings, its entry-level Extreme and Elite lines are notorious for outputting less power than they're rated for (a trait not all too uncommon among “cheap” PSUs).

Quite simply, we chose to ignore both the unit’s rating and potential rating discrepancy. Instead, we focused on what we could get for the near-impossible $30 price we could afford to pay. Although this unit is adequate for our needs, understand that its limitations affect future upgrades, too.

Load test data found in this review reveals that the Elite RS-430’s 12 V and overall output levels  are weak for the claimed 460 W rating. But the data also depicts a fairly decent sub-400 W PSU with “outstanding” voltage regulation, acceptable ripple and noise, and even 80+ efficiency between 150-300 W.

For our power-sipping gaming system, we think it's far better to use a thoroughly-reviewed unit than take our chances on other $30 options of unknown quality.

Optical Drive: Samsung Black 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-S223C

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's SH-S223C


This OEM 22x SATA DVD burner has served our optical needs well in the past and came in at just the (low) price we needed.

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    AMW1011 , September 8, 2010 6:26 AM
    I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

    Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

    Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
  • 12 Hide
    SpadeM , September 8, 2010 6:17 AM
    Quote:
    Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.


    +1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
  • 11 Hide
    cmcghee358 , September 8, 2010 10:00 AM
    Really good job. I also like the fact you pointed out that it doesn't include combo discounts, shell shockers or MIR.

    That tells me that it could of been an even better system for the same price. I understand that you couldn't, but it's a real eye opener for us folks in the System forum.

    I consider this to be a perfect benchmark system for the low budget build requests there.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    SpadeM , September 8, 2010 6:17 AM
    Quote:
    Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.


    +1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
  • 15 Hide
    AMW1011 , September 8, 2010 6:26 AM
    I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

    Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

    Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
  • 5 Hide
    micr0be , September 8, 2010 6:29 AM
    very nice build, interesting to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the budget. i was expecting worse results.
  • -8 Hide
    nevertell , September 8, 2010 6:30 AM
    Conclusion ?

    150$ buys you a lot better gaming capabilities, and nothing else.
  • 9 Hide
    Gamer-girl , September 8, 2010 6:57 AM
    Quote:
    It went $1 over-budget if we substituted in a GeForce 9800 GT.


    I doubt someone spending $400 can't afford to add an extra dollar. although i realize that the point in these articles is to stay under the budget, it would have been interesting to see the price/perforamce difference.
  • 2 Hide
    haplo602 , September 8, 2010 7:01 AM
    nice case, looks very good ... pity that rosewill does not have a downloadable manual for it ...
  • 3 Hide
    HibyPrime , September 8, 2010 7:35 AM
    I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?

    I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.
  • 11 Hide
    Proximon , September 8, 2010 8:11 AM
    The Cooler Master Elite 460 is a falsely labeled piece of crap. You can find the review (with proper testing) here: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/1005/1

    You'll have to spend a little bit more there. Rosewill has a 430W (RG430 S12) unit or the Antec Neo 400W is almost the same price as the CM after a discount and rebate.
  • -6 Hide
    Proximon , September 8, 2010 8:11 AM
    Clicked once but got a double post somehow.
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2010 9:48 AM
    What do the best price/performance we can have?
  • 11 Hide
    cmcghee358 , September 8, 2010 10:00 AM
    Really good job. I also like the fact you pointed out that it doesn't include combo discounts, shell shockers or MIR.

    That tells me that it could of been an even better system for the same price. I understand that you couldn't, but it's a real eye opener for us folks in the System forum.

    I consider this to be a perfect benchmark system for the low budget build requests there.
  • 3 Hide
    Onus , September 8, 2010 10:11 AM
    While I agree with Proximon on the PSU, I also think this was an outstanding benchmark build. It's also clear where the next $50-$100 could go to improve it. Very nicely done.
  • 3 Hide
    Gulli , September 8, 2010 11:27 AM
    There really are cheaper cases and motherboards out there that would work just fine with this setup. The extra money could go to where it's really need: the graphics.
  • -1 Hide
    elbert , September 8, 2010 12:37 PM
    LunarianI am building a computer with this motherboard and processor also, well the X3 445 anyway. I want to install windows XP on to the operating system, but all my recent CD's were upgrades only. Can I start off with the Win95 CD and install that to the HDD, then upgrade to Win98 followed by Win XP?If anyone can answer this, thanks a lot.

    I installed an upgrade disk XP once and I think its asks you to insert the disk of the OS you want to upgrade. XP then checks the disk I guess to see if its an allowed upgrade.

    This was a great review. I would have when for a $450 range build with a 5770 and an X3 and got the mobo in the review. I would have gotten the $20 Gigabyte gz-ph1a3 and Antec 430W for $40. May have exceeded the price but would have been a great system.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233061
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371023
  • 3 Hide
    pauldh , September 8, 2010 12:38 PM
    SpadeM+1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.

    Thanks, yes felt it was worth mentioning this one wasn’t as tuned as other recent SBM budget builds. The 2140 MHz CPU-NB Frequency for this $400 OC is quite low versus 2540 MHz for the June $550 PC, and 2620 MHz for the March $750 build. I aim for 2400-2600 MHz CPU-NB, although realize many overclockers utilizing better cooling are willing to push this far higher.

    This lil’ box had a few strikes against it that (I felt) didn’t warrant the additional tuning time. The mobo’s design & tame passive cooling, the lack of CPU-NB Voltage control in BIOS, and the fact the boxed cooler’s abilities were already being taxed without increasing the memory controller and L3 cache frequency.
  • -5 Hide
    sublifer , September 8, 2010 12:40 PM
    I'd have rather seen a $500 system. ~$100 more into gfx would have been well spent. Maybe a better HSF too.
  • 8 Hide
    jonpaul37 , September 8, 2010 12:44 PM
    Agreed, kudos to the community for asking for this and kudos to Paul for making it happen, $400.00 seems to pack a decent punch!
  • 0 Hide
    pauldh , September 8, 2010 12:53 PM
    AMW1011I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.


    Agreed, every little bit helps. $411 alone added an HD 4850, so $450 would have been good for 1GB HD 5750 or maybe even a 5770. $500 then adds an aftermarket cooler, higher quality PSU, and doubles the storage capacity.
  • 0 Hide
    pauldh , September 8, 2010 1:02 PM
    HibyPrimeI'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.

    The $550 overclocked June PC had a 350 MHz advantage plus further performance tuning, and it still fell shy of the $400 build in threaded-apps performance. Gaming, the system needs more GPU, so additional CPU frequency would not have a meaningful impact.

    FYI, we get curious too, just need to get the work done first. ;)  I pushed 3.5 GHz at 3-cores, but wouldn't stability test because of insufficeint cooling. Didn't take the time to push the ref. clock any higher than 235 MHz. 3.45 GHz required a voltage bump from 3.4 GHz for stability, and temps were a bit high even before CPU-NB frequency overclocking. SO, had unlocking failed, benchmarks would likely have been run with 3-cores @ 3.4 GHz.
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