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System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $650 Gaming PC

Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive

Case: NZXT Tempest 210 CA-TP210-01 ATX Mid-Tower

We try to dedicate most of our budget to improving the performance of our enthusiast-oriented PCs, so supporting components often take a hit. For this overclocked FX-6300-based build, I insisted on a roomy case. And whether I added them myself or not, I wanted at least two cooling fans, too. Peppered with eight fan mounts and outfitted with full-frontal mesh, the $40 NZXT Tempest 210 has huge airflow potential, satisfying my needs perfectly.

Two exhaust fans are provided by NZXT, including one 140 mm cooler up top and a 120 mm blower in the rear. A bottom power supply mount helps lower the center of gravity, while allowing the unit to pull in fresh air through venting underneath the enclosure. NZXT completes the package by including two front USB ports, one which is 3.0-capable.

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT Tempest 210 Case (opens in new tab)

Power Supply: Antec VP-450 450 W

I don’t like to over-buy power supply output, but even worse is under-buying quality and rail stability. While I prefer to avoid PCI Express auxiliary adapters (since they often result in cable clutter), Antec's VP-450 was a unit I knew I could rely on. It's simply the most attractive power supply within the budget I had left. The combined 30 A rating on its 12 V rails gives me reserve for tweaking, too.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's VP-450 Power Supply (opens in new tab)

Optical Drive: Samsung 24x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-224DB/RSBS

There were few people who complained when I left the optical drive off of last quarter's $650 mini-ITX gaming box, making software installation a little bit more involved. But shedding the premiums associated with a small form factor configuration, I opted to add a DVD burner once again.

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's SH-224DB/RSBS 24x DVD Burner (opens in new tab)

This retail 24x Samsung DVD burner was a rare find at $16, bundled with Nero Express 12 and a SATA cable.

  • Darkerson
    Not a bad little entry system. Im sure it will get picked apart here in the comments soon, but for the price, its not that bad at all.
  • iam2thecrowe
    I think this time you chose the perfect balance of cpu and gpu at this price point. The Athlon 750k is far too weak, please don't use it next month, even an fx41xx or 43xx would be a better choice. The Haswell i3 would be interesting as we might be able to get some overclocking wby increasing base clock strap settings
  • Onus
    It looked great until I saw the mobo, then I thought "oops..."
    Based on and I would have gone with instead; it has a heatsink on its VRMs, and it currently offers free shipping and is $2 less (it's been that way for a while now; I've had my eye on it for recommendations). I'm concerned that the cheap MSI will pop in the middle of a long gaming session. Did you by chance point an IR thermometer at its VRMs during your testing?
    Otherwise, it's nice to see the FX-6300 get a workout in which it performs in the same ballpark as its competition, maybe a little less "raw," but with higher bang/buck.
  • noob2222
    its crazy how fast memory prices change, that kingston kit is now $84 and the team vulcan 2133 and 2400 are <60.
  • designasaurus
    I'd be interested in seeing an FX 8-core more than the FM2 Athlons. In general though, it would be nice to see an AMD processor in these quarterly builds more regularly. I know you guys treat it as a competition, but, for readers like me, it's more informative to see how the competition shapes up rather than seeing 5% boosts from the latest Ivy-to-Haswell iteration. The higher budget guys are pretty much exclusively using Intel these days (I'll get my Haswell comparisons there), so your lower budget builds are the only place to reasonably see how a good AMD build stacks up. FX-6300 is definitely the best value AMD processor though, so it's going to be tough for you to beat this if you go up or down in cpu budget to get the Athlon or octocore.
  • Novuake
    Yeah, I would not touch that board...
  • m32
    I would have to put an fan over the VRMs to feel safe. That is just me. designasaurus, nice read and I agree.
  • ingtar33
    nice build. though i probably would have went with a 7950, and took the $50 saved to get a cpu cooler like the hyper evo 212, and a better overclocking motherboard like the m5a97 R2.0... you probably would have been able to give that fx a bit better of a chance to hit mid to high 4s on the overclock then. if you can get a 6300 up around 4.7-4.9 (obviously not all of them can get there) you can pace an i5 pretty easily... so spending a little on the board and cpu cooler is a good option.

    the 8 core 8320 is getting pretty cheap. the problem is in order to unleash that type of power you're probably going to NEED to go with a hefty cpu cooler and hefty overclocking board. so for the future i suggest you keep with the fx 6300 unless the prices on the 8320 come down a little more.
  • Lee Yong Quan
    would love to see how well does the $350 pc compare with the Q2 $400 PC! then i would know how well my pc would perform when gta 5 is out!
  • bemused_fred
    Why is everyone saying "go with the HD 7950" when they clearly said in the article that it only became cheaper after they finished the build?
    "AMD's Radeon HD 7950 now sells for even less. But at the time we picked our parts, the GeForce GTX 760 was more affordable."

    Honestly, read the article before commenting!