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System Builder Marathon, May '09: $600 Gaming PC


Working in the SG01-F case was surprisingly simple even with this editor’s somewhat big hands. Prepping the case was as easy as removing the top cover and exhaust fan bracket. All motherboard standoffs were in place except for one, and with the Asrock-supplied I/O shield snapped into place, it was soon time to prepare the motherboard.

After installing the processor, boxed cooler, and RAM, the motherboard was ready to be mounted into the case. Removable trays made installing the hard drive a simple task. Those using DDR2-1066 should adjust the FSB jumpers at this time or the memory will only be able to run DDR2-667 or DDR2-800. A close-up picture of these jumpers can be viewed later on in the overclocking section.

With the motherboard and hard drive installed, it was then time to install the graphics card and see if there would be any clearance issues.

If a graphics card longer than 9.6” is installed in the first expansion slot, modifications need to be made to the case. Removing the side intake fan or replacing it with a thinner fan allows the hard drive cage to be slid farther away from the first expansion slot.

For this build, none of this was a concern, as the ASRock G41M-LE uses the second expansion slot for the graphics card, leaving plenty of clearance between the 10.5”-long GTX 260 and the hard disk drive.

Hooking up the individual front audio connectors was one of the biggest challenges with this system, as the SilverStone documentation did not match the individual connector labels. We’d have to imagine this has been a great source of frustration for many novice system builders. The audio cable didn’t leave much length to spare, while the other front-panel cables left many spare inches to tuck away.

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After installing the PSU and DVD burner, it was time to connect the power and data cables, test the machine out, and put those cable-management skills to work.

With the exhaust fan bracket and top cover reinstalled it was time to enter the BIOS and get our OS installed.
  • doomtomb
    You still manage to fit this PC with a GTX series at such a low price point. Props for that.
  • IzzyCraft
    Yeah while you generally can find a 4890 10 dollars cheaper then a GTX275 the reverse is true when it comes to a 4870 and GTX260.

    Interesting i would have thought you would have went with a kuma due to limited oc ability in a cramped "gaming box", although you did make the oc worth while.

    I understand the rest of the build; though the case looks more like a media box then a gaming box those cramped boxes amaze and worry me as even my htpc is very well cooled and silent due to being very low heat as in not a oced cpu and a power hungry gpu.
  • IronRyan21
    Im sad, I was hoping for at least one AMD cpu in the May SBM series. :(
  • IzzyCraft
    62 dollar mobo hard to argue with that cpu+mobo coming out to be 62+70=$132 and, getting that much oc off the stock cooler.
  • dirtmountain
    What a shame.
  • cinergy
    IronRyan21Im sad, I was hoping for at least one AMD cpu in the May SBM series.
    Green eyed Tom gives no mercy for DAAMIT.
  • cangelini
    Wow, no love for a solid build. Nicely done, Paul.
  • erdinger
    dissapointed also just needed to see an Amd system.
  • dirtmountain
    It is a lovely build, but the all around performance would be better with a Phenom2 x3 720, something that was achievable at the typical $625- $650 budget build price tag. If you look at the last 4 budget builds you get a E5200, E5300, E7300 and now yet another E5200. Give us a break, is the next one going to feature the E6300, then another E5200? As for the enthusiast, we get an i7, then a core2 duo, then a core2 quad, now another i7. Is it all around performance? or gaming performance? or just Intel performance? How can any reader know how the AMDs will stand up in these marathons if they never get the chance? With the new quarterly offering of the SBM it will be 3 months before another series comes out, just in time to see yet another i7, i5 and the E6300 builds. It's not as if the people waiting and wanting to see an AMD build are any surprise to Toms SBM or that they're disappointed to see AMD excluded once again. I'm disappointed myself even though Pauls build is a really nice one.
  • sandoness
    Gah.. wouldn't it be smart to get a more powerful cpu?

    even with the overclocking power of this one?

    I was originally gonna get a q9550 !?