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Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive

System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC
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Case: NZXT Gamma Classic Series GAMA-001BK

Appealing features on the NZXT Gamma include its black interior, bottom-mounted power supply, and abundant cooling potential.

Unfortunately, only a single 120 mm exhaust fan is included. But the chassis is fitted with ventilation and mounting holes for up to five additional coolers. For more information and artwork, see this gaming enclosure comparison by Thomas Soderstom.

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Gamma Classic Series GAMA-001BK


Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts EA-430D Green

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's EarthWatts EA-430D Green


We’ve often relied on Antec’s quiet and efficient EA-380D Green to deliver power in our budget gaming system builds. This month, we were able to grab the 430 W version for just $45.

While a single six-pin PCIe power lead means we’ll need to utilize one of the graphics card’s bundled power adapters, a 32 A combined +12 V rating is far higher than you’ll find on most entry-level 500 W units.

Optical Drive: Samsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222AB

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's SH-222AB SATA DVD Burner


At this budget, we look to spend as little as possible on a reliable SATA DVD burner. Thus, we're picking this well-reviewed 22x Samsung unit to fill the system’s optical needs.

Display all 84 comments.
Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    slicedtoad , September 22, 2011 5:18 AM
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • 17 Hide
    Outlander_04 , September 22, 2011 6:36 AM
    Its a good $500 build .except it cost $520 and the motherboard is a dead end part .
    For another $30 you can include an AM3+ board with the latest 970 series chip set that is fully compatible with Bulldozer.
    As it is this build is a dead end , and its out of date in 3 weeks

    But its still a better computer than the previous intel build
  • 17 Hide
    alchemy69 , September 22, 2011 5:05 AM
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    alchemy69 , September 22, 2011 5:05 AM
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2011 5:05 AM
    Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
  • 13 Hide
    Outlander_04 , September 22, 2011 5:13 AM
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
  • 23 Hide
    slicedtoad , September 22, 2011 5:18 AM
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2011 5:22 AM
    Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
  • 12 Hide
    Zero_ , September 22, 2011 5:28 AM
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :p 
  • 16 Hide
    zooted , September 22, 2011 5:38 AM
    This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
  • 7 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 22, 2011 5:38 AM
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
  • -2 Hide
    bobfrys , September 22, 2011 5:44 AM
    This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
  • 11 Hide
    lunyone , September 22, 2011 5:51 AM
    This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!
  • 2 Hide
    hmp_goose , September 22, 2011 5:59 AM
    What's that? The Surprise Fourth Build will not be the $2k version? Someone's going to poke around in the grey area between the i3-2100 and the i5-2500? How much extra cash will be allowed?

    Why do posts like this "sound" like the something from the '60s Batman TV show?

    Tune in tomorrow! :-P
  • 3 Hide
    Tijok , September 22, 2011 6:17 AM
    First off, great build, the balance of parts is great, and almost exactly what I would recommend to someone in this budget area.

    But seriously, what is going on with the small/ low res charts?
  • 4 Hide
    _Pez_ , September 22, 2011 6:19 AM
    This Rig Rocks ! I would only change the case :)  maybe a cooler master storm.
  • 1 Hide
    Rizlla , September 22, 2011 6:34 AM
    The first of this months builds that are great and you can see there is a budget that was thought of.
  • 17 Hide
    Outlander_04 , September 22, 2011 6:36 AM
    Its a good $500 build .except it cost $520 and the motherboard is a dead end part .
    For another $30 you can include an AM3+ board with the latest 970 series chip set that is fully compatible with Bulldozer.
    As it is this build is a dead end , and its out of date in 3 weeks

    But its still a better computer than the previous intel build
  • 1 Hide
    Proximon , September 22, 2011 6:54 AM
    It was a good comparison, and the right build to do, because we got an honest look at the differences and advantages to each platform.
    That said, I would have to say that it's not the right $500 system for most gamers. The P II X2 555BE would perhaps let you get a better board, making it a smarter buy at $520, and of course some excellent Rosewill combo deals (that are always on) would help out with the case and PSU.
  • -4 Hide
    cobra5000 , September 22, 2011 6:56 AM
    Nice to see the 955 finally get to stick it to the i-3. That and the old boy is what, two years old? Way to go AMD! Its a shame Tom's could'nt point that out. Not really surprising though, with the tiny charts hiding how the 955, DOMINATED, the i-3 at high resolution.
  • 0 Hide
    cmcghee358 , September 22, 2011 7:30 AM
    Nicely done. I can atest to the volume of that freaking stock fan too. I had mine up to 7000 RPM on my HTPC. I HAD to replace it, it sounded like an old ventalation fan in a bathroom
  • 4 Hide
    Martell77 , September 22, 2011 7:56 AM
    @Cobra5000 - Are you really that happy that a stock SB I3 is beaten by a P-II x4 OC'd just past the AMD X4 top end proc? Ya, its 2 years old but the I3 isn't exactly a high end part. If the P-II had kept up or beaten a I5, then you should be cheering. I think you meant "the tiny charts hiding how the 6780, DOMINATED, the 6850 at high resolutions." The wins the 955 got were in productivity apps due to its 4 physical cores.

    I'm hoping that bulldozer will finally give Intel something to worry about. Some pricing wars would be really nice. But I'm not holding my breath.

    I think it would be interesting if they changed the video card to a 6850 and show how much the processor change actually made a difference.
  • 2 Hide
    cypeq , September 22, 2011 8:18 AM
    mayankleoboy1whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?


    Toms is saving up bandwidth by annoying readers.
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