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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $650 Gaming PC

Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive

Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Mini-ITX Tower

The Cooler Master Elite 120 mini-ITX tower accommodates standard-sized components, such as ATX power supplies, dual-slot graphics cards, a full-height optical drive, and up to three 3.5” hard drives.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master's Elite 120 (opens in new tab)

Airflow is provided by a 120 mm front fan, an 80 mm side fan, along with vented side and top panels for the graphics card and power supply. One USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 connectors, and audio I/O are all accessible from the enclosure's front panel.

Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series CX500 500 W

Our beefy Radeon graphics card doesn't come with any power adapters, so we're using Corsair's 80 PLUS Bronze-certified CX500, sporting a single 38 A, 12 V rail and a pair of 6+2-pin auxiliary power leads.

Read Customer Reviews of Corsair's CX500 500 W Power Supply (opens in new tab)

Optical Drive: None!

We could have added a standard-height 5.25” DVD burner for $17 more, but instead funneled that money into a more powerful graphics card.

However, life with more mobile platforms has come to mean that more folks are using optical media less frequently. Only you can decide if a desktop without a DVD drive is acceptable.

  • 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