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System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $500 PC

Assembly

Assembly

This was yet another simple budget build that went off without a hitch, so there isn’t a whole lot to comment on regarding assembly. There are, however, two areas worthy of mention: the CPU cooler and the Antec enclosure.

Cooler installation was rather simple, entailing removal of the attached Intel mounting hardware, application of thermal grease, and clasping down the familiar AMD socket clip. While secure, this clip limits installations to vertical airflow; sufficient, but not exactly ideal in today’s installation.

As with many of Antec’s original Solution-series enclosures, accessing the internals of the NSK 4482B requires removal of the top panel prior to the side panels. Overall, this is a clean, well-built case, although many of its features aren’t exactly geared towards the enthusiast.

For starters, there’s no access cutout in the tray, so be prepared to remove the motherboard should the desire arise for an exotic cooler upgrade. This is unlikely to be an issue for the target consumer though, as airflow itself is limited to the one rear 120 mm exhaust fan, and room to add just a single optional 80 mm intake fan behind the front bezel.

Lastly, depending on the individual application, the case could limit the length of add-in cards to 9.5 inches. Our ASRock motherboard uses the 2nd expansion slot for the primary graphics card. While this GeForce GTX 460 is roughly 8.5 inches long, the power leads prevent use of the bottom HDD bay. This is a limitation of the enclosure’s fairly small footprint. Though, had Antec shortened the removable 3.5” drive cage to include one less bay, we’d be able to pop in a massive 12” graphics card and had room for a larger intake fan.

  • LuckyDucky7
    And this is really the only PC build that will stay relevant come January- it will remain the only budget platform that can be overclocked, after all.

    Incidentally, this would be the only PC you'd want to contemplate building right now (since the new Core i3s don't come out immediately like the i5s and i7s do- and the Pentium G8XX series doesn't allow overclocking of its platform.)
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    Ah, much better than the previous build!
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Great job squeezing everything into a very small budget.
    Reply
  • adbat
    Good build - but again it would be good to see old spec on test system page.
    Reply
  • rohitbaran
    That is a great combination for that budget. Balanced.
    Reply
  • yyk71200
    I wouldn't be very comfortable using a 380 watt PSU for a long time for GTX 460 even if it is good quality. Perhaps, I would put in something of 450 watt or higher.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    LuckyDucky7And this is really the only PC build that will stay relevant come January- it will remain the only budget platform that can be overclocked, after all.Incidentally, this would be the only PC you'd want to contemplate building right now (since the new Core i3s don't come out immediately like the i5s and i7s do- and the Pentium G8XX series doesn't allow overclocking of its platform.)So you think there's going to be a replacement platform for the $2000 PC in January? That's not going to happen for a while. Or are you suggesting the next $2000 PC should be downgraded to P67?
    Reply
  • dragoon190
    I haven't been keeping up with the system marathon much, but what's the reasoning for choosing nVidia card over AMD's? Just wondering since I'm thinking about upgrading my computer soon.
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    A really nice build this time.However the price of the case and power supply has gone up in price over at newegg.I haven't checked the prices of the other components though.This build seems to perform quite well especially in the gaming benchmarks.Good job!
    Reply
  • tstng
    I would've gone with a 6850 instead of the 460. It's a tad cheaper, not at all slower if you don't start cranckin' up the tesselation, and should fit the 380W psu a lot better. But a solid build by all means.
    Reply