Motherboard And Memory
Motherboard: MSI PH61A-P35
One of the perceived weaknesses suffered by our June 2011 Sandy Bridge-based gaming rig was its stripped-down microATX motherboard. That was a deal-breaker for many readers, though necessary to meet our budget requirements. Though our system was stable, and it performed well, features and scalability just weren't there.
Thankfully, for just a little bit extra, we are now able to grab a far more appealing PH61A-P35. MSI packs a number of features onto this H61-based ATX motherboard, including three PCI slots, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, UEFI, and solid capacitors throughout the design.
Also notable (particularly on a budget motherboard) is a wealth of on-board system fan headers totaling four in all. This was an extra $10 well-spent!
Memory: 4 GB Wintec AMPO DDR3-1333 3AMD31333-4G2K-NHR
Avid readers of the series may notice that I jump around amongst the very cheapest 4 GB memory kits, rarely using the same one twice. I do this hoping to find bargain-priced RAM that will stand out in an otherwise fairly boring crowd.
This basic 4 GB dual-channel kit of DDR3-1333 modules goes back to a double-sided design and is rated at CL9 timings at 1.5 V.