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Assembling Our $2000 Performance PC

System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $2000 Performance PC
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Scythe made minor changes to the installation kit of its Mugen 3 Rev. B compared to what we've seen from previous models. Brackets that appear similar to those used on the Mugen 2 now use their outer holes to mate to the base. The design allows support pieces to be mounted on either side, specifically benefiting AMD motherboards. Intel's square bolt pattern makes the change unnecessary.

Though Scythe’s installation kit still screws on from the rear when it's used with most processor interfaces, anyone with an LGA 2011-based gets special screws that attach from above. We credit Intel for making the job easier for Scythe, since LGA 2011 has its own support plate with integrated threads.

The NZXT Phantom 410’s hard drive trays use rubber-covered pins to secure 3.5” drives and screws to secure 2.5” drives. We don’t mind that 2.5” drives lack noise dampening grommets, since the 2.5” drives preferred by most enthusiasts are flash-based and not mechanical. Yet, it looks like NZXT’s designers got a little confused:

The SATA connectors face in opposite directions for 2.5” and 3.5” drives. Spinning the 3.5” disk around prevents it from aligning properly with the holes, while spinning the 2.5” SSD around causes its ports to be blocked by a cross brace. Oops!

The NZXT Phantom 410 has enough space behind its motherboard tray to store all of the spare cables from our power supply, which isn't modular. The result is an extraordinarily well-organized system, apart from the SSD cables being on the wrong side.

In a recent round-up of 15 mid-range gaming enclosures, the Phantom 410 demonstrated the lowest average CPU temperature, even though its stock cooling system actually favors graphics. In an effort to shift that balance back towards the CPU without breaking our budget, we moved its intake fan from the bottom to the middle of the front panel.

Nobody wants their expensive machine to look cheap. A gunmetal grey finish contributes to the high-end appearance of our $2000 PC.

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