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System Builder Marathon Q4 2014: Budget Gaming PC

Motherboard And Memory

Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33

MSI's H81M-P33 is an entry-level H81 Express-based motherboard that represents the starting point when you set out to build an LGA 1150–based platform. Although it lacks in overall connectivity and features compared to pricier options, this mATX board comes with all of the basics, including SATA 6Gb/s, rear USB 3.0 ports, and a pair of PCI Express slots.

Although it relies on a modest three-phase power design, we’re only overclocking a 53W Pentium at tame voltages anyway. Outfitted with a tweaking-friendly UEFI, the H81M-P33 gives us a stable foundation for dabbling in entry-level tuning.

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's H81M-P33 Motherboard

Memory: 8GB Team Vulcan DDR3-1600 TDBD38G1600HC9DC01

My desire is to outfit eight gigs of dual channel RAM without breaking the bank, and Team Group’s memory kits have been consistently among the most affordable on Newegg. These Vulcan series modules feature yellow heat spreaders rather than blue, but otherwise tout the same XMP settings of DDR3-1600 with CL9-9-9-24 timings, at 1.5V. Unfortunately, our Pentium processor limits me to just 1333MT/s.

Read Customer Reviews of Team Group's Vulcan TLYD38G1600HC9DC01 Memory Kit

  • airplanegeek
    Why is the PSU fan facing up instead of down? Doesn't that affect the cooling of the PSU?
    Reply
  • sea monkey
    Upon submission of the form:

    The Sweepstakes opens on September 23, 2014 12 noon PDT and closes on October 6, 2014 12 noon PDT.

    Umm...
    Reply
  • pauldh
    Yes it would. And it is facing down, just hidden from sight in the photo. The PSU fan's venting holes are flush with (and actually a part of) it's shell.
    Reply
  • Zeh
    Just a hint: you SHOULD be using an air conditioner so you can have the same room temperature over the year.
    Preferably one with Inverter technology, which will decrease the temperature delta (it doesn't start-stop once it reaches a given temperature threshold).
    Reply
  • Onus
    Hmmm, I see some kudos for the VP-450 in here, being remarkably efficient despite not being 80+ (it is disqualified for 80+ for not having Active PFC).
    Since the purpose of these SBM machines is (imho) to learn things, I would have liked to have seen a different mobo used, for comparison.
    I appreciate the thoughtful approach to overclocking that was used here.
    The only niggle I can't resist is the $18 for the optical drive. For months, I've been seeing one or another of them for around $13-$14. That seems a small thing, but that $4-$5 plus the leftover may have bought either a better cooler or a faster HDD.
    Reply
  • sea monkey
    totally disappeared from site

    sight

    while monitor temperatures

    monitoring

    to be sure it could bee done

    be

    none the less

    nonetheless

    it’s R9 270X graphics card

    its

    Yet, both machines share a similar weakness, they’re outfitted with a dual-core Pentium capable of juggling only two threads at a time.

    comma splice

    outputting to 3-panels

    three panels
    Reply
  • codyleemanofaction
    Darn those moving prices! I was hoping to see the R9 280 make it!
    Reply
  • lesmore2222
    I agree with cody. I really wanted to see the difference a r9 280 would make as well. This was just too similar to the last build. Should have bought the r9 280 anyway and fibbed on the price a little. ;)
    Reply
  • ingtar33
    A final thought to consider is at what point will the next big game on your radar force an early upgrade to Core i5? It might not be too far off, as Far Cry 4, which launched a week after we ordered this machine, completely lacks official support for dual-threaded processors.

    same with the game of the year, Dragon Age Inquisition.

    I suspect it's time to drop dual cores as a build suggestion.
    Reply
  • BoredSysAdmin
    Great build. I would probably never built it exactly like the article (more ram, sdd - etc), but it provides great bones to build upon.
    Reply