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System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $350 Bonus Entry-Level PC

Motherboard, Memory, And Hard Drive

Motherboard: MSI FM2-A75M-E35

Builders on a tight budget typically find microATX to be the most reasonably-priced form factor. And for this build, we definitely couldn’t afford to spurge on extra expansion slots that we didn't need anyway. There are, however, limits to the compromises we were willing to make, especially in terms of our budget board’s connectivity. We wanted a PC that we could live with, day in and out.

Enter the MSI FM2-A75M-E35. This A75-based board sporting native USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s ports, plus a UEFI firmware, had just the features we needed, and all at a price we could afford.

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's FM2-A75M-E35 Motherboard

Memory: 8 GB Team Vulcan DDR3-1600 TLAD38G1600HC9DC014GB Memory Kit

Our microATX motherboard is outfitted with two memory slots corresponding to the APU's dual-channel controller. Naturally, we jumped on the opportunity to populate both DIMM slots with 4 GB modules.

While Team Group, Inc. is a lesser-known company, its affordable Vulcan line of memory has been generating favorable reviews from Newegg customers. This dual-channel DDR3-1600 kit is rated at CAS 9 and 1.5 V. Amazingly, it only set us back $48.

 

Read Customer Review's of Team Group's Vulcan 8 GB Memory Kit

Hard Drive: Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1 TB

WD's Blue-series 1 TB hard drive gave us ample storage capacity and performance at a cost we just couldn’t pass up. This SATA 6Gb/s-capable mechanical drive features 64 MB cache, a 7200 RPM spindle, and a limited two-year warranty.

 

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Blue 1TB Hard Drive