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

There are two basic approaches we have to choose between when limited funds are in play. First, we could build a pure gaming box. Or, we could build a more well-rounded system.

More often than not, living up to the gaming requirements of our SBM (System Builder Marathon) 3D test suite forces graphics to be the top priority, leaving processing power a distant second consideration. But rather than trying to excel in just one area, this $400 build will attempt to do all things well, representing the platform balance many readers prefer when building for more than just gaming.

$400 Gaming PC System Components

Component
Model
Price (U.S.D.)
CPU
AMD Athlon II X3 440
$75
CPU Cooler
AMD boxed heatsink & fan
0
Motherboard
ASRock M3A770DE
$60
RAM
Crucial 2 GB (2 x 1 GB) DDR3-1333 (PC3 10600) Model CTKIT12864BA1339
$48
Graphics
PowerColor AX5670 512MD5-H Radeon HD 5670
$89
Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAJS 250 GB SATA 3Gb/s
$45
Case
Rosewill Blackbone
$35
Power
Cooler Master Elite 460 RS-460-PSAR-J3 460 W
$30
Optical
Samsung Black 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-S223C
$18
Total Price
 $400


We set our sights on a standard ATX-based Socket AM3 build sporting either a dual- or triple-core AMD Athlon II processor. Given the fact that two-thirds of our value weighting is based on a well-threaded applications suite, spending an extra $13 on an Athlon II X3 440 was a good decision in constructing a potent little machine. Even if our always-ambitious unlocking efforts failed, we still had three threads to count on.

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