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Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500

A Reasonable Price: CPU And Motherboard

Mini-ITX and Intel: When The Price Is Right

We decided to build this rig using an Intel Ivy Bridge-based CPU. Keeping cost in mind, a 3.2 GHz dual-core Pentium G2120 emerged as our only real option.

As long as two cores are enough, the Pentium offers great performance. And while AMD sells quad-core parts for about the same price, they don't fare as well when it comes to cooling and power consumption, both of which are important considerations in such a compact space. This time around, it just had to be the little 55 W Ivy Bridge-based Pentium.

The Right Motherboard: MSI B75IA-E33

MSI’s B75-based B75IA-E33 is a newer board that offers everything we could want from a mini-ITX platform in this price range. Although the form factor limits any motherboard's available features quite a bit, MSI manages to give its B75IA-E33 a logical and usable layout. Even the UEFI menus are arranged nicely. We found this to be a perfect fit for both the build and budget we had in mind.

While there aren't many bundled accessories to speak of, MSI's B75IA-E33 includes all the essentials. The unexpectedly large manual is easy to navigate, though the text labels in the schematics could have been larger.

MSI B75IA-E33 Technical Specifications
Processor InterfaceLGA 1155
ChipsetIntel B75 Express
DDR3 Memory Support1066/1333/1600/1800/2000/2200/2400 MT/s (DDR3-1800 and up are overclocked settings; Ivy Bridge-based CPU required)
Memory ChannelsDual
DIMM Slots2
Maximum Memory (GB)16
PCIe x161 x PCIe 3.0
SATA 6Gb/s1
SATA 3Gb/s3
RAIDN/A
LAN10/100/1000
TPMYes
USB 3.0 (Back)2
USB 2.0 (Back)4
Audio Connectors (Back)3
HDMI1
DVI1
VGA1
Form FactorMini-ITX
Approximate Street Price$110