System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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Cases are one of those things where you usually get your money's worth.

Barring crazy $100 top mount PSU cases from random manufacturers (AZZA?) that should have been taken off the market years ago the cost usually bears out the benefits.

Cases are one of those things that stick with you for years and years into new builds and there is no reason a case really ever needs to be thrown out, unlike pretty much every other part of the PC.

I would rather spend a good $50 - $60 on a high quality case up front and then use it for all my builds from that point on rather than trying to limp along with a poor case the whole time (by I would I mean I do).

That has to be tempered with your expectations, though. There is no reason to get a $250 case if the parts inside of it will never be worth more than like $500 at any point in time.

Whatever people spend every 3 years or so during their regular upgrade cycle, I would highly suggest to spend about 10% of that on the case they intend to use with it.

I do have one complaint about the Elite 430 that I bought and which is in use in my house. I had trouble getting the computer to boot with the motherboard faceplate installed for some reason. Without it the computer booted just fine, but with it the computer wouldn't boot at all.

Not sure if it pushed the motherboard out of alignment with the standoffs or what, but the computer is currently sitting there functioning at this moment with no faceplate on it. It is hidden and not visible to anyone for them to complain about the aesthetics of it, but it does annoy me.

I could probably get that sorted out, but its a PC that we use for our family business so working on it takes away from our family making money. Therefore, the priority is pretty low on that. As far as I am concerned it is a functional passive exhaust system at this moment.

Some might even all that an upgrade.

Anyway, I doubt that I would buy the same case again, because I like things to just plain work right the first time and that case certainly didn't give me that, however, outside of that faceplate thing I have no complaints about the case. Without the faceplate everything else is fine with me in regards to it.

I don't know, maybe I am just spoiled by my Lian Li case on my gaming PC. The regular price of that is more than double that of the Elite 430 so I can't really hold the Elite 430 to the same standard for sure.

Still, I think I got my money's worth out of the Elite 430.


Oct 14, 2011
About the only good thing I can say about the 430 is the airflow seems quite good. I have 3 fans (not counting the CPU heatsink fan) which is not a lot, yet the dust builds so fast I have a mind to jerk one of the fans. The air is moving.

My feelings toward the cooler master 430, and all cheap cases for that matter, is coming from the perspective of someone who generally tries to keep his rig decent. These qualms I have are, to me, unacceptable. And to be fair, it's not just the CM 430. A good quality case is by far the best option for a number of reasons.

I guess if people are on a budget, such cases would be fine as long as they aren't putting 680s in them, or something.

Oh, another thing. When I mounted my cards and screwed them into the back, it bent the case when I tightened the screws. Now my cards are all cockamamie because of that. And I didn't "over-tighten" them. I tightened them the way I tighten anything. And before that, when I knocked out the little cut-outs in the back for the cards, the slits in between were pathetically fragile and wobbly.

I mean, there are so many ways cheap cases scream, "low quality!". I am sure there are exceptions, but the CM 430 isn't one, in my honest opinion.

No problem.

I admit that it was dumb of me, but I was low on funds, had to by an OS, and really wanted the 6970 (this was before I got my second 6970). I didn't get my second card until about 6 months later. I also had to upgrade my PSU - which was a task. And the motherboard I chose, the P8Z68-V Pro, supports only two cards - not three.

This wasn't my first rig, but it was the first that I learned some valuable lessons (perhaps because it was the first I built myself).

That's good. At least it worked out for you. :)


[citation][nom]Raiddinn[/nom]I am generally unimpressed with Raidmax products, but I would still take that Reiter case over the case-like-thing they used for the SBM. I haven't spent any serious time examining the merits of the case, but just quickly glancing through the images would lead me to believe they did a whole lot more right than the SBM case did. I still want my passive exhausts up top, though, even if there is no room in the budget to fit fans in them.[/citation]
Wow, aren't you a vocal one, sparking pages of talk bashing the Rosewill case, which was just fine for this build as built. This isn't an overclocked Phenom build running beefy CrossFire/SLI graphics. There was cooling to spare, running an over-volted GPU with auto fan settings and the boxed Intel cooler at auto fan settings. Did you even read the article?

I totally disagree with you on the top "passive exhausts". I have tested many these and found some(out-of -the-box) to be ill-placed passive intakes. You obviously believe a myth that cases with more vents are always better. Uglier? Noisy? ... sure, often they are. But not necessarily better. Yes they can be, but its not that simple, and can be plain wrong. And they are not a requirement for a stable, long-lasting build as you so vocally claim.

Do you understand enclosure airflow and pressure? It doesn't seem so. Unless you have sufficient intake fans to create pressure, those top rear vents can become intake vents, totally killing airflow, which can then spike temps of some internal components that relied on that front to rear airflow. Many of those “gaming” cases you speak of are lousy without adding additional optional exhaust and/or intake fans. Place tissue paper over those top vents, does it get blown aside, or does it get sucked down?

Here is a hint, unless you create positive pressure, you rarely want simple vents right near your exhaust fans. An exception could be cool intake for the GPU or like this build ported into the CPU cooler. If not populating the top vents with exhaust fan, I'd personally avoid such cases that you so vocally recommend, and have even found better cooling by covering some of these vents you call a must-have for all non-junk builds. Please tone down your aggressive attitude and imho adjust your case recommendations accordingly.

edit: BTW, I am all for use of a more expensive case, when budget allows or for your "gaming" cases when additional cooling demands are required. That is not the situation with this build. Pop a front intake into this one and it would be fine for overclcoked Phenom II quads plus bigger graphics. Your labeling of all non-"gaming cases" as junk is pure nonsense. Your attack on the site and SBM authors for not using your desired case style in every build (reguardless of the need), followed with claims that now you'll have to damage control on the forums because of this build's case, is a rediculous joke. I've built and supported hundreds of builds. A couple dozen Antec Sonata/2 builds alone would prove your case claims otherwise. Shoot one of my own has even run a OC'ed Q6600 and 2 card SLI very quietly for 4.5 years now. Yes, it's seen plenty of prime 95 and Furmark even. It was built to be quiet and adequately cooled. Anyway, many readers are vocal about staying within budget, and this build certainly didn't require more cooling. In general I've found Rosewill cases are a step above the norm in the low price bracket. I myself chose to put more money into the case rather than strive to meet a firm system budget. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with this Rosewill case for such a build if funds require cutting cost here rather than limiting performance parts.
You are wrong and they are wrong. Starting a long time ago, no case should ever be recommended with a top mount PSU rack. Nothing makes that OK.

Secondly, a passive exhaust should be a passive exhaust. If your passive exhausts are passive intakes, then you are doing something wrong.

IDC about all the people you screwed over by suggesting top mount cases except to say that you did them a disservice.

BTW, I do have to do damage control in the forums. Well, I don't have to, but I do it anyway. That is why my ranking on this site >>>> yours. If you think that people don't come in the forums with failed SBM setups, you are wrong. Maybe if you came in the forums and did tech support like some of us you would see it.



Sorry, but you are the one who is wrong making a blanket statement that every top mount PSU enclosure is bad. Have you told Lian Li and Antec this? That's just rediculous. I have no problem with the case style you suggest, and won't argue against the potential for airflow for overclockers, but they are far from a neccesity for the majority of builds, even today. Nor are they clearly best:,1962-8.html
You are assuming all machines are power sapping heaters in need of 4-6 cooling fans. This was a dual-core Sandbridge build that consumed under 200W at Full CPU+GPU load. Get real.

Next, your statement that I quoted about using the "passive exhausts" if you can't afford to popluate extra fans is also wrong. I'm not doing something wrong, instead some manufactures are selling cheap Antec Thee Hundred style immitators that come with only one rear exhaust fan, no intakes, and no exhaust fan's up top. Out of the box, they have a design flaw. In some of them you absolutely must buy additional fan(s) for those "passive exhausts" to become exhausts. But I guess you have tested them all and know better than us. :sarcastic:

Also I'll tell ya, many people absolutely hate cases with top fans and overabundant venting. If you haven't encountered this you either have not built many custom machines, or you build exclusively for kiddies. Shoot, I have three Antec Three Hundreds/Illusions, and an Antec Nine Hundred at home. I like them for the money, but not everyone does. I always stocked many styles of known quality for people to chose from and know some despise those cases peppered in venting, just like others despise 5.25" drive doors, side windows, or gaudy bezels. Much of that is flair, and tastes do in fact vary. Antec was my standard in quality, but I'd go up or sometimes down a bit if the user desired.

Lastly, LOL, Your ranking is ahead of mine only because the revamped ranking system penalized old members. We got pretty much no credit for years of service. I had over 10,000 on-topic posts here many years before you even joined the forums. Helping people is what I enjoyed most. And correcting bad advice was another chore that had to be done. (Kinda like these article comments at times.) Those years of helping people, benchmarking, and discussing tech landed me a job writing for Toms. Have you been offered one yet? Same with the other SBM authors... one time active forum members and life-long enthusiasts, who now lack time to remain active on the forums. Shoot one is the first or second oldest member in Tom's Hardware forum history. But you are more active there right now so I guess that trumps all our expereince?

Now listen, I won't say you are not qualified to build or help people, and I sincerely thank you (and others)for doing so as authors are simply too busy to remain active. Tom's relies on readers/forums members to help the community and make it what it is. But you are doing everyone a disservice with these rediculous narrow-minded and unfactual claims about case requirements, plus bashing all the SBM authors and the site over the use of a case that is just fine for the application. Hopeful this does not apply to you, but I can just imagine this same advice coming along with the recommendation of a crappy High-watt power supply as right for gaming also.


The video card for this build does not appear to be available on New Egg at the moment. I could go and find it on another site but if I were to go with a different card and try to stick within the $500 price point, what other options are there that work just as well?


I guess it's not a $500 build if you have to add $200 for Windows? Is there any other way to go? If I had another $200 to spend, I can think of a few better hardware choices!


Feb 27, 2011
Would this base system (minus graphics card) be a good start to system more geared to Blender graphics development, given I upgrade the video card to a better CUDA supported card to support Cycles based rendering...


Oct 26, 2012
Why didn't they go with AMD HD 7850 1GB, it much more powerful plus it new and not an old generation GPU. Rest is acceptable, i guess using a new gen GPU would mean a mobo that supports PCIe 3.0, plus a CPU that does that too. Which would take the price to $600. But i would be good money spent, wont it?


Nov 23, 2012
I'm going to build this pc. Is all these components compactable or i'm wasting my money. Some Proffecional views please,

Case: azza genesis 9000B

Powersupply: Silent Pro Hybrid 1050W
Model :(RS-A50-SPHA-D3)

Board: Asus Maximus V Formula

Processor: Intel i7-3770K

Rams: CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 16GB (4 x 4GB) 2666
Model :CMD16GX3M4A2666C10

Model :02G-P4-2678-KR

Liquid Solution:

Radiatot 1: XSPC EX480 Slim Line Quad Fan Radiator
Radiatot 2: XSPC EX240 Multiport Dual Fan Radiator
Waterblock: XSPC Full Copper RayStorm CPU WaterBlock - INTEL
Reservoir: XSPC Twin D5 Dual Bay Reservoir/Pump Combo
Coolant: XSPC - EC6 Non Conductive Coolant - Blood Red
Hose: XSPC High Flex 2m (Retail Coil) - CLEAR
Fitting for this package

Logisys Red Liquid Neon Thunder Pattern LED Light, Model: LNSRD
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