System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC

Motherboard And Memory

Motherboard: ASRock M3A770DE

This time around, we looked into alternative motherboards priced up to about $75. Once again, though, we chose ASRock’s M3A770DE.

Based on the AMD 770/SB710 chipset, this affordable board has repeatedly demonstrated its stability, overclocking potential, and proclivity for unlocking artificially disabled processing cores. Factor in CrossFireX (limited to x16/x4) and Phenom II X6 support, plus a pair of powered eSATAII/USB connectors, and its low $60 price tag is an easy sell.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's M3A770DE Motherboard

ASRock’s use of solid capacitors in key areas of the voltage regulator circuit improves lifespan and reliability, while reducing cost compared to solid components throughout the design.

Memory: 4 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1333 BL2KIT25664BA1339

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's BL2KIT25664BA1339 4 GB DDR-1333 Kit

This 4 GB dual-channel kit of DDR3-1333 memory employs a single-sided design and is rated for CL9 timings at 1.5 V.

We can’t see the RAM ICs themselves, but it appears that Crucial took the last kit we used, slapped some aluminum heat spreaders over top, and replaced the first digit of the model number with “B” rather than “C.”

We're fine with this move, considering that, at a mere $25, the Ballistix Sport comes in less expensive than the spreader-less version.

  • alchemy69
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
  • Outlander_04
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
  • slicedtoad
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
  • Zero_
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
  • zooted
    This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
  • mayankleoboy1
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
  • bobfrys
    This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
  • lunyone
    This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!