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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $600 Gaming PC

Motherboard And Memory

Motherboard: MSI PH61A-P35

One of the perceived weaknesses suffered by our June 2011 Sandy Bridge-based gaming rig was its stripped-down microATX motherboard. That was a deal-breaker for many readers, though necessary to meet our budget requirements. Though our system was stable, and it performed well, features and scalability just weren't there.

Thankfully, for just a little bit extra, we are now able to grab a far more appealing PH61A-P35. MSI packs a number of features onto this H61-based ATX motherboard, including three PCI slots, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, UEFI, and solid capacitors throughout the design.

Also notable (particularly on a budget motherboard) is a wealth of on-board system fan headers totaling four in all. This was an extra $10 well-spent!

Read Customer Reviews of MSI's PH61A-P35

Memory: 4 GB Wintec AMPO DDR3-1333 3AMD31333-4G2K-NHR

Avid readers of the series may notice that I jump around amongst the very cheapest 4 GB memory kits, rarely using the same one twice. I do this hoping to find bargain-priced RAM that will stand out in an otherwise fairly boring crowd.

This basic 4 GB dual-channel kit of DDR3-1333 modules goes back to a double-sided design and is rated at CL9 timings at 1.5 V.

 Read Customer Reviews of Wintec 4 GB DDR3-1333 Memory Kit