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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $650 Gaming PC

Assembling Our Budget-Oriented Box

Overall, this was a simple build. Three thumb screws secure the 120 Elite enclosure's single-piece shell. Once it was off, we saw an interior painted black to match the exterior. The trickiest part was simply dealing with the cable management, though Cooler Master provides numerous internal tie-downs.

 

The removable power supply bracket is attached to the PSU and slid into place. Corsair’s CX500 retail packaging is the perfect height to rest the CX500 on while routing and attaching power leads. A modular power supply might have made the process simpler, but this build required every lead except one anyway, so we would have saved very little space.

Removing the side-mounted 80 mm fan made it easier to attach the main 24-pin power cable without putting too much pressure on the motherboard's PCB. I can imagine that a longer power supply would interfere with placement of the main cable. But the shallow CX500 side-stepped that issue altogether.

On a final note, the six-pin auxiliary power lead proved to be difficult to attach once the graphics card was installed.

Given the end result, you can see that space wasn’t much of an issue. I chose to route cables so they wouldn't block any of the internal or external drive bays (even if this was academic; the system will get broken down for whoever wins it). The chunky Molex adapters for the two case fans added bulk. But once I got them secured, every cable was tucked out of the way of rotating fans. From there, the enclosure lid was easy to reinstall.

  • 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