System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC

Motherboard And Memory

Motherboard: ASRock M3A770D

We needed an inexpensive motherboard with some degree of overclocking potential. Of course, it couldn't sacrifice stability or the potential of unlocking our Athlon II chip. ASRock's M3A770DE, based on the AMD 770/SB710 chipset, was just the ticket. With CrossFire (limited to x16/x4) and Phenom II X6 support, plus a pair of powered eSATA/USB connectors, the $60 price tag looks even sweeter.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's M3A770D

Notice that ASRock uses solid capacitors in key areas of the voltage regulator circuit to improve lifespan and reliability, but not throughout the board, as we have come to appreciate on more expensive models from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.

Memory: Crucial CTKIT12864BA1339

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's CTKIT12864BA1339 DDR3-1333 Kit

Two gigabytes system memory seems like an obvious choice for our $400 build, so we opted for the same affordable dual-channel Crucial kit we've used in the past.

Although it lacks heat spreaders, and is rated at CL9 and 1.5 V, Crucial DDR3-1333 modules with D9KPT ICs has demonstrated impressive overclocking capabilities in past memory roundups.

  • SpadeM
    Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.

    +1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
  • AMW1011
    I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

    Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

    Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
  • micr0be
    very nice build, interesting to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the budget. i was expecting worse results.
  • nevertell
    Conclusion ?

    150$ buys you a lot better gaming capabilities, and nothing else.
  • Gamer-girl
    It went $1 over-budget if we substituted in a GeForce 9800 GT.

    I doubt someone spending $400 can't afford to add an extra dollar. although i realize that the point in these articles is to stay under the budget, it would have been interesting to see the price/perforamce difference.
  • haplo602
    nice case, looks very good ... pity that rosewill does not have a downloadable manual for it ...
  • HibyPrime
    I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?

    I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.
  • Proximon
    The Cooler Master Elite 460 is a falsely labeled piece of crap. You can find the review (with proper testing) here:

    You'll have to spend a little bit more there. Rosewill has a 430W (RG430 S12) unit or the Antec Neo 400W is almost the same price as the CM after a discount and rebate.
  • Proximon
    Clicked once but got a double post somehow.
  • What do the best price/performance we can have?