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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $650 Gaming PC

Motherboard And Memory

Motherboard: ASRock B75M-ITX

Normally, when we say we went with the least-expensive option, you assume we sacrificed something. But at $90, this B75 Express-based platform is far from cheap, especially compared to larger micro-ATX options.

We can live without built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and we knew we wouldn't be overclocking. Rather, what mattered most was the 7-series chipset's features on a stable platform. The B75M-ITX packs support for the Ivy Bridge architecture right out of the box, a 16-lane PCI Express 3.0 slot, USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, and eSATA.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's B75M-ITX (opens in new tab)

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer DDR3-1600 4 GB Kit

Funding limitations meant we'd have to choose from among the most affordable 4GB kits of DDR3 for this build, and we were thrilled to see Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical Tracer down among them. With DDR3-1600 frequencies, CAS 8 latencies, all at 1.5V, the choice over equally-priced basic CAS 9 DDR3-1333 was a no brainer.

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's Ballistix Tactical Tracer DDR3-1600 4 GB Kit (opens in new tab)

  • Madn3ss795
    Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?
    Reply
  • nokiddingboss
    a great starting build at a very reasonable cost. it was a good read mate. gotta <3 the 7870xt for gaming. best bang for the buck. if only the i5's are a little cheaper... next quarter perhaps?
    Reply
  • sbudbud
    10984766 said:
    Just 1 question: Why not a 4gb ram stick instead? That board only has 2 RAM slots, so wouldn't it be better to use just one and save another for upgrading later?
    I think this is for performance reasons, dual channel memory beats single channel in performance but more memory is better. I guess the reason is that 4gb is the sweet spot in terms of what is recommended and that going single channel 4gb for future upgrade to 8gb dual channel will has diminishing returns..
    Reply
  • thasan1
    ahh finally, i was wondering what happened to system builder marathon..
    Reply
  • thasan1
    but why mini ITX rigs?
    Reply
  • sarinaide
    $650 called budget, clearly my definition and the going opinion is far from budget, with it possible to build a ATX Intel or AMD system for a little extra but a lot more performance. I did see the Day5 $400 Ultimate Purist M-ATX, this I gotta see, my guess is another Intel build.
    Reply
  • jestersage
    Thank you for acceding to reader requests for an itx based SBM!

    I have similar preferences as the author when it comes to what I'd change here... a step down in graphics, a step up in CPU performance and bring up RAM to 8gb. I'm not very concerned about noise. I almost always put on a headset when I game.
    Reply
  • MuadDibTM
    Great job on the build and the article. Would have liked a noise comparison as well. Just so we'd know what we're talking about when going for a mini-ITX build.
    Reply
  • bigshootr8
    Yea I'm a bit confused why you wouldn't go down to a 7850 2 gigabyte model and then spend the extra money on 8 gigabytes of memory instead ><
    Reply
  • ARICH5
    jeez, it sounds like your face-palming yourself for getting the i3 through this whole article.
    Reply