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

Assembling this simple PC was a breeze compared to high-end boxes featuring exotic cooling, multiple graphics cards, and RAID arrays. Our modest selection of hardware easily fits inside the Blackbone’s roomy interior, with gobs of space left for expansion or inexperienced hands. The case’s glossy front bezel is easily removed with just a tug. This makes it easier to prep the external drive bays and clean the foam filter linings when they get dirty.

The stock heatsink requires no special attention, and the pad of pre-applied thermal paste allows for a quick, easy installation. While a handy access hole in the Blackbone’s tray would aid in bolt-on aftermarket cooler installations, given this system’s design and initial cost, any future upgrade would probably use the built-in socket clips anyway.

The Blackbone can accommodate up to 11.5” graphics cards, although anything in the 9 to 9.5” range requires you to leave adjacent hard drive bays vacant. At 7.25”, our single Radeon HD 5670 leaves all of those bays available for more storage in the future.

The drive bays themselves are not as snug as they are on Cooler Master's Elite 330. But the twist and lock mounting clips still provide an acceptably-secure solution. Once again, we’d revert back to conventional screws if we shipped this system to the winner fully-configured. In order to make shipping a safer proposition, though, we'll box everything up first. Rosewill populates the visible left side of the enclosure with a full deck of these drive clips, but it only includes a few extras for the reverse side of the cage.

ASRock’s sensible motherboard layout, coupled with Rosewill’s routing holes, allows for tidy cable management. The low-RPM case fans use 3-pin header connectors, but Rosewill also includes Molex adapters.

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