System Builder Marathon: Day One

PC Case: Cooler Master Centurion 5

The business end of the Cooler Master Centurion 5 Case

To be honest, choosing the case probably has more to do with taste than functionality when compared to any other component in a PC build. There are a lot of good offerings at the $50 price point that will likely appeal to your personal sense of style that offer differing levels of functionality.

The case we chose for this build is the Coolermaster Centurion 5. We chose it from the sea of offerings in this price category because it is a solid, well-ventilated case with a lot of room for drive expansion. The screw less drive and expansion card installation hardware is also a nice touch. The styling was another plus. You can never go wrong with the classy and attractive aluminum-on-black look of the Centurion.

Optical Drive: Sony NEC Optiarc 7170

Sony NEC Optiarc Black AD-7170S-0B 18X SATA

There are a lot of good DVD-RW drives out there from a multitude of manufacturers and most are similarly priced. Of the DVD-RW drives we've tested at Tom's, the 7170's have proven fast and reliable, so we had no problem choosing Sony's Optiarc 7170 for our low-cost PC build.

We like the drive so much that we'll be using it in all of our systems. The drive only cost us $35. There is an IDE version of the drive available for $5 less, not enough of a difference to drive us to IDE.

  • I built the May 8, 2007 $500 system and was well pleased with it. I went with 2 GB ram but the rest was from the article. In 2011, the video card died from ruptured capacitors. I really miss that card as it was impressive.
    Now, I am considering going with 4 GB ram and upgrading the power supply to support a 22 amp video card. Maybe a processor upgrade also.