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A Reasonable Price: CPU And Motherboard

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