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Build A Balanced AMD-Based Gaming PC On A Budget

CPU Cooler

CPU Cooler: Raijintek Themis

We've never been huge fans of AMD's reference-class heat sinks or fans. Typically, they do their job loudly. And this Athlon X4 needs a capable sink with a high-quality fan to keep the Trinity processor cool, quietly. Fortunately, there are some good third-party options in the $20 to $30 range.

Again, this was a pick from our German team, where Raijintek's Themis might be priced a little more aggressively. Here in the U.S., you can find the heat sink selling for $40 on Amazon. Fortunately, it serves up excellent performance without making much noise, and includes a fan that fits our build's color scheme. Naturally that has nothing to do with performance, but we're always down for color coordination.

If you think that the Raijintek Themis looks familiar, you’re right. The designer previously worked at Xigmatek. Three copper heat pipes are integrated into a block and aluminum heat sink. They work just like they should, which is good enough to keep our overclocked Athlon X4 750K cool, even overclocked to 4.5 GHz. At that higher clock rate, noise remains moderate.

CPU Cooler Installation

The Raijintek Themis’ mounting kit should be an example to other vendors, giving us a good reason for us and value-seeking builders to use this particular model. A universal backplate is designed to sit far enough off of the motherboard to avoid conflicts with protruding solder and surface-mount components on the back of the board.

Four bolts are pushed through holes in the motherboard, and each is capped with a plastic nut. The nuts double as spacers on top of the motherboard. Fasten the screws as shown a couple of images down.

When it comes to the brackets, pay attention to the Themis' orientation, since the direction it points has some consequences. If the heat sink is supposed to face the I/O shield, you'll need the AMD mounting clips, which have to be ordered separately (for free, supposedly).

Using thumbscrews, the brackets are simply screwed onto the four bolts that were previously fastened in place.

Finally, thermal paste is applied to the CPU and the Themis is set in its place on top, allowing you to screw in each side. The picture below shows those special AMD clips for the rotated installation with the Themis already secured by two screws.

If you're a sticker for thermal performance, don't use the bundled compound. Instead, we chose to use Gelid's GC-Extreme, which is effective, inexpensive, and easy to apply.

And with that, we're done picking out our motherboard, processor, cooler, and memory. Let's have a look at the updated price table.

Price Update

ComponentsBaseline BuildPriceRed DevilPrice
Graphics CardAMD Radeon R7 260X$120AMD Radeon R9 270Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti$150
CPUAMD Athlon X4 750K$80AMD Athlon X4 750K$80
MotherboardSocket FM2 or FM2+$45Mini-ITX Socket FM2+$85
RAM8 GB DDR3-1600 Kit$60Avexir 8 GB DDR3-1600 LED Kit$75
CPU CoolerBundled cooler (overclockable to 3.8 GHz)---Raijintek Themis with AM2 Adapter$40
Thermal PasteNot Necessary---Gelid GC-Extreme$10