System Builder Marathon: Low-Cost System

Memory, Hard Drive, And Case

Cooler: CoolerMaster HyperTX 2

We've been a fan of the HyperTX 2 for a long time, and our recent cooler comparison highlights why: this cooler has what it takes to go up against some of the best CPU coolers out there for a very low price: $25

Memory: 2 GB Of Wintec AMPO PC2-6400

We still haven't found anything as compelling as the low-cost Wintec AMPO we've used in our past system builder marathons. Prices have dropped of course, and at under $45 for two-1 GB sticks of the stuff, do we have any incentive to move on? It overclocks like crazy and we're happy to use it once again in our low-cost build.

Hard Drive: 500 GB Western Digital WD5000AAJS SATA 7200 RPM

One thing you'll notice is that in each system builder marathon, the storage capacity of the low-cost machine always skyrockets since the last marathon. In the previous low-cost PC we used a 320 GB drive; now 500 GB Caviar drives can be had for under $100. The half-terabyte drive has an 8 MB cache and really delivers space and performance at a low price.

PC Case: NZXT Apollo

In a low-cost case, you aim for functionality and space: style is a bonus. The Apollo offers all three, with good airflow via two large and quiet 120mm fans and tool-less construction. It contains both Intel HD audio or AC'97 audio connectors, which is a nice touch. The Apollo is a bit reminiscent of Alienware's trademark cases, which might be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view and styling preference. Regardless, we're impressed with the Apollo and, weighing in at $70, we think it makes an attractive low-cost case

  • romulus47plus1
    Paying $230 for a 3870?
    Get the 8800GT for that price!
  • Retrogame
    The $500-$700 system is more important than you realize: it's an extremely important price point in the "Consoles vs. PC wars"

    For about $500, you can buy a top of the line current generation PS3 or XBox 360 with a few accessories.

    Of course, there are always games better on one platform than the other; and naturally, your PC is a lot more versatile; i.e. it's a "REAL COMPUTER!" Even so, it's nice to know that you can actually put together a low cost machine, overclock it a smidgen, and still run this games representative of this year's crop of PC titles... and if you were to actually scale down the graphics settings to the same level that the consoles would be running things at, probably end up with better frame rates and the advantage of using a nice monitor instead of a TV.