The Right Chassis Is Mandatory
Lady in Red: BitFenix Prodigy
By now you're probably wondering why I keep calling this machine the Red Devil, right? Well, the red BitFenix Prodigy was my inspiration. Add an affordable graphics card and CPU from AMD, a red fan on the processor's heat sink, and memory modules that pulse red, and there you have it.
Installing our parts in the Prodigy turned out to be pretty easy, but I'll give you a few tips anyway. Dispose of the hard drive case in the middle; it's only in the way. Other than that, the case has enough room to fit our mini-ITX-based configuration system. If you'd rather save a few bucks by going with a larger motherboard form factor, be sure to choose a chassis with space for all of your components.
The back of BitFenix's Prodigy exposes some of the small form factor's limitations. A dual-slot graphics card is the most you're able to fit, though that's fine since our motherboard of choice can't accommodate anything else, either. We already illustrated how the power supply fits, fastened in place using a bracket and thumb screws.
The semi-flexible plastic handles come in handy, look good, and fit the Prodigy well. The top cover can be removed, which makes the installation process even easier.
Side Window Showcase? Yes, But …
An optional side panel with an acrylic window is available for $20 more. Unfortunately, the distance between the window and a dual-slot graphics card is less than 1 cm, which effectively prevents higher-performance cards from fitting inside.
The Radeon R7 260X we picked manages to perform its duties without overheating, but a Radeon R9 270(X) won't work, at least not without making a lot of noise. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti actually works best in this configuration since it operates so efficiently and draws so little power.
Once more, here’s the most up-to-date pricing. The only components we're missing are related to storage.
|Components||Baseline Build||Price||Red Devil||Price|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon R7 260X||$120||AMD Radeon R9 270Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti||$150|
|CPU||AMD Athlon X4 750K||$80||AMD Athlon X4 750K||$80|
|Motherboard||Socket FM2 or FM2+||$45||Mini-ITX Socket FM2+||$85|
|RAM||8 GB DDR3-1600 Kit||$60||Avexir 8 GB DDR3-1600 LED Kit||$75|
|CPU Cooler||Bundled cooler (overclockable to 3.8 GHz)||---||Raijintek Themis with AM2 Adapter||$40|
|Thermal Paste||Not Necessary||---||Gelid GC-Extreme||$10|
|Power Supply Unit||350 W, 80 PLUS Bronze||$25||Super Flower Golden Green 350 W 80 PLUS Gold||$65|
|Case||Case with USB 3.0||$25||BitFenix Prodigy Red||$80|