Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

A Reasonable Price: CPU And Motherboard

Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500
By

Mini-ITX and Intel: When The Price Is Right

We decided to build this rig using an Intel Ivy Bridge-based CPU. Keeping cost in mind, a 3.2 GHz dual-core Pentium G2120 emerged as our only real option.

As long as two cores are enough, the Pentium offers great performance. And while AMD sells quad-core parts for about the same price, they don't fare as well when it comes to cooling and power consumption, both of which are important considerations in such a compact space. This time around, it just had to be the little 55 W Ivy Bridge-based Pentium.

The Right Motherboard: MSI B75IA-E33

MSI’s B75-based B75IA-E33 is a newer board that offers everything we could want from a mini-ITX platform in this price range. Although the form factor limits any motherboard's available features quite a bit, MSI manages to give its B75IA-E33 a logical and usable layout. Even the UEFI menus are arranged nicely. We found this to be a perfect fit for both the build and budget we had in mind.

While there aren't many bundled accessories to speak of, MSI's B75IA-E33 includes all the essentials. The unexpectedly large manual is easy to navigate, though the text labels in the schematics could have been larger.

MSI B75IA-E33 Technical Specifications
Processor Interface
LGA 1155
Chipset Intel B75 Express
DDR3 Memory Support
1066/1333/1600/1800/2000/2200/2400 MT/s (DDR3-1800 and up are overclocked settings; Ivy Bridge-based CPU required)
Memory Channels
Dual
DIMM Slots 2
Maximum Memory (GB) 16
PCIe x16 1 x PCIe 3.0
SATA 6Gb/s
1
SATA 3Gb/s 3
RAID N/A
LAN 10/100/1000
TPM Yes
USB 3.0 (Back) 2
USB 2.0 (Back) 4
Audio Connectors (Back) 3
HDMI 1
DVI 1
VGA 1
Form Factor Mini-ITX
Approximate Street Price
$110
Display all 150 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    zooted , February 7, 2013 3:45 AM
    Would be nice if they included benchmarks, but overall a nice review.
  • 23 Hide
    FormatC , February 7, 2013 3:55 AM
    @xkm1948:
    I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;) 

    @zooted:
    The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
  • 19 Hide
    xkm1948 , February 7, 2013 3:26 AM
    What about putting in an APU instead?
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    xkm1948 , February 7, 2013 3:26 AM
    What about putting in an APU instead?
  • 15 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , February 7, 2013 3:40 AM
    That case almost looks like a Wii.
  • 31 Hide
    zooted , February 7, 2013 3:45 AM
    Would be nice if they included benchmarks, but overall a nice review.
  • 4 Hide
    A Bad Day , February 7, 2013 3:47 AM
    We have Mini-ITX gaming mobos that support OCing and 120mm closed loop water cooling...

    I demand a proper Mini-ITX case from the manufacturers!
  • 23 Hide
    FormatC , February 7, 2013 3:55 AM
    @xkm1948:
    I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;) 

    @zooted:
    The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
  • 9 Hide
    sempifi99 , February 7, 2013 4:04 AM
    If I did not already have more desktops than I am currently using I would definitely consider building something like this...
  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , February 7, 2013 4:25 AM
    That was my basic setup until recently when I upgraded the cpu from a i3 2100 to an i5 3570k. The GPU from the 7750 to a 7870 and the case to a prodigy which supports larger cooling fans and dual slot GPU's. The lower frame rates or settings turned down wasn't cutting it for games like borderlands 2. But if you are into games like LoL the recommend build will be more than enough.
  • 3 Hide
    DjEaZy , February 7, 2013 4:55 AM
    xkm1948What about putting in an APU instead?

    ... my first idea too...
  • 11 Hide
    jestersage , February 7, 2013 5:02 AM
    Beautiful! Love it! Mini ITX System Builder Marathon, please.
  • 6 Hide
    jestersage , February 7, 2013 5:03 AM
    I also found this bit thought provoking -

    Quote:
    Overall, you should see good performance right up until the platform reaches its limit. Then performance will fall apart completely.


    Something to keep us readers grounded on reality.
  • 5 Hide
    palladin9479 , February 7, 2013 5:45 AM
    DjEaZy... my first idea too...


    The A10-5800K would be slower then a 7750 GDDR5 even with DDR3-2133 memory, though it would definitely be cheaper.

    What Toms was doing was combining SB/IB's better performance at single player timed games with a very specific dGPU. The dGPU is doing most of the heavy lifting which lets them get away with a weak CPU in single threaded environments. Since the purpose was to create a pseudo "console" then it'll work.
  • -5 Hide
    grumbledook , February 7, 2013 7:01 AM
    These tfx psus are typically noisy so I seriously doubt you'd hear the stock cooler over it. I sure haven't with my g850 in a similar itx chassis (In-Win bp655) with 2 different ones (got a 300w bequiet tfx psu to replace the overtly noisy one that came with the case. Much better but still audible).
    Why no mention of how loud the gpu is under load?
    Also, "no gaming pc is really complete without an optical drive"..... just no.
  • 4 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , February 7, 2013 7:56 AM
    The A10 6800K should dual nicely with this graphics card. I dare say it will be a better option then.
  • 12 Hide
    emad_ramlawi , February 7, 2013 7:57 AM
    Good work, can i please know the temps inside the system, like the AMD 7750 on Load and idle and the CPU as well, why no temps page
  • 8 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , February 7, 2013 8:03 AM
    photonboyLaptop instead??

    i was thinking on building a htpc /gaming PC and i was thinking to get a laptop aswell...but lets see, the only thing that you win with a laptop is mobility. In a htpc you can upgrade the video card with newer solution, you can upgrade the CPU (you can alwas insert an i3 there when prices are lower), the htpc is silenter, you can add SSD +HDD ... so the HTPC wins by far. The laptop is doomed, you will trow it away in 4 years (@ 500$, you will trow it away in 2 :) )), and @ 500$ your best deal in a laptopis the intel HD graphics orthe nvidia gt 610 witchboth are crap...
Display more comments