Motherboard And Memory
Motherboard: ASRock M3A770D
We needed an inexpensive motherboard with some degree of overclocking potential. Of course, it couldn't sacrifice stability or the potential of unlocking our Athlon II chip. ASRock's M3A770DE, based on the AMD 770/SB710 chipset, was just the ticket. With CrossFire (limited to x16/x4) and Phenom II X6 support, plus a pair of powered eSATA/USB connectors, the $60 price tag looks even sweeter.
Notice that ASRock uses solid capacitors in key areas of the voltage regulator circuit to improve lifespan and reliability, but not throughout the board, as we have come to appreciate on more expensive models from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.
Memory: Crucial CTKIT12864BA1339
Two gigabytes system memory seems like an obvious choice for our $400 build, so we opted for the same affordable dual-channel Crucial kit we've used in the past.
Although it lacks heat spreaders, and is rated at CL9 and 1.5 V, Crucial DDR3-1333 modules with D9KPT ICs has demonstrated impressive overclocking capabilities in past memory roundups.