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System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2010: $400 Gaming PC

CPU and Cooler

Processor: AMD Athlon II X3 440

The AMD Athlon II X3 440 sports three 128 KB L1 caches and three 512 KB L2 caches, but lacks the shared L3 cache found in AMD’s Phenom II processors. This 45 nm chip offers three processing cores, a 3.0 GHz core frequency, and solid overclocking potential.

Read Customer Reviews of AMD's Athlon II X3 440

While we would have welcomed a price drop in the Athlon II X3 435 used in last quarter's System Builder Marathon machine, at the same $75 cost, this chip was hard to resist.

CPU Cooler: AMD Boxed Heatsink And Fan

Opting for the triple-core Athlon II meant purchasing a retail package. And, with a $400 budget holding us back, we sure couldn’t afford to set the boxed AMD cooler aside. Although it isn't anything fancy, it’s certainly sufficient at stock speeds, and even leaves room to dabble in overclocking, as you'll see.

  • SpadeM
    Given the motherboard’s basic passive cooling measures, though, there was really no point in putting more time into lowering the CPU multiplier, pushing a high reference clock, and attempting to maximize northbridge and memory frequencies.

    +1 for making this statement, glad someone considered it at least. All in all decent build for the money.
    Reply
  • AMW1011
    I'll be honest, I think a $450 budget is a little more reasonable than a $400 budget. At that price a 5750 or even a 5770 can be had, which would have worked fine with all of the other parts and likely would have matched the $550 June build.

    Even this $400 build packs a punch, you can get one HELL of a rig for the money any more. It really is insane, and that's not even considering the used or refurb market!

    Awesome article, probably one of my favorite SBM, atleast the best I've seen in a long time.
    Reply
  • micr0be
    very nice build, interesting to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the budget. i was expecting worse results.
    Reply
  • nevertell
    Conclusion ?

    150$ buys you a lot better gaming capabilities, and nothing else.
    Reply
  • Gamer-girl
    It went $1 over-budget if we substituted in a GeForce 9800 GT.

    I doubt someone spending $400 can't afford to add an extra dollar. although i realize that the point in these articles is to stay under the budget, it would have been interesting to see the price/perforamce difference.
    Reply
  • haplo602
    nice case, looks very good ... pity that rosewill does not have a downloadable manual for it ...
    Reply
  • HibyPrime
    I'd be interested to know how much more overclocking headroom you could pull out of it if you left it at 3 cores - and would that net you more performance in most of the benchmarks?

    I'd bet if you could pull ~200 mhz more out of it, it would begin to match up with the missing core, and maybe start to pull away around 400mhz.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    The Cooler Master Elite 460 is a falsely labeled piece of crap. You can find the review (with proper testing) here: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/1005/1

    You'll have to spend a little bit more there. Rosewill has a 430W (RG430 S12) unit or the Antec Neo 400W is almost the same price as the CM after a discount and rebate.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Clicked once but got a double post somehow.
    Reply
  • What do the best price/performance we can have?
    Reply