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Case And Power

System Builder Marathon, June 2010: $2,000 Performance PC

Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion

Many readers will likely be disappointed that we chose a $70 case for today’s high-priced build, especially when we had so much money left in the budget for upgrades. But today’s build is all about performance and we have no qualms about the performance of Antec’s Three Hundred Illusion.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's Three Hundred Illusion

Several factors that went into our case selection were ventilation, durability, quality, and convenience. Ventilation is especially critical in a system that has two hot graphics cards and an overclocked processor, and the Illusion attacks this with dual 120 mm intake fans, a 120 mm rear-exhaust fan, and a 140 mm top exhaust fan. The Three Hundred Illusion’s ventilation becomes more impressive when considering that Antec was able to pack it into a convenient mid-tower form factor.

Even more convenience comes from design features, such as an access hole for installing screw-on CPU coolers and front-panel ports that are actually on the front, rather than on the top. The Three Hundred Illusion is small enough to sit on a desk, which is a convenience that makes its front-panel connectivity even more important. However, users who prefer desk placement are still left potentially wanting FireWire and eSATA ports and perhaps a lower front-panel port location to eliminate the problem of cables dangling in front of optical drives.

Constructed of medium-thickness steel with chip-resistant paint and corrosion-resistant plating on all unpainted surfaces, the Three Hundred Illusion is durable enough to outlast several builds. Panel fit is nearly perfect and we never found a sharp edge on which to cut or scrape our hands. If this description sounds like that of a high-end case, well, the Illusion Three Hundred is about as close to the high-end as we could find for under $100.

While we don’t find many “advanced” features like screwless drive bays, we don’t plan on changing parts on a frequent basis. Screws save money without compromising durability.

Power: SilverStone Decathlon DA750

Our previous build required only a 750W power supply, but since it was designed for future upgrades, such as an additional graphics card, it was equipped with a 1,000W unit. This month’s build is not intended to support an additional graphics card, so we decided a 750W unit would likely be sufficient.

Read Customer Reviews of SilverStone's Decathlon DA750

SilverStone’s DA750 is one of the least-expensive “quality brand” power supplies in its class, and its fully modular design is a bonus to builders who demand clean cable organization.

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