System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $500 PC

CPU And Cooler

Processor: AMD Athlon II X3 445

Use of the retail AMD boxed cooler in September’s $400 PC capped performance gains from overclocking and unlocking the Athlon II processor. This time we chose an aftermarket cooling solution that was affordable and left greater headroom for pushing voltage and core speed.

Read Customer Reviews of AMD's Athlon II X3 445

The AMD Athlon II X3 445 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 3.1 GHz stock core clock speeds, and solid overclocking potential.

CPU Cooler: Rosewill RCX-ZAIO-92

Read Customer Reviews of Rosewill's RCX-ZAIO-92

Rosewill's design features a copper base, three copper heatpipes, and aluminum fins, cooled by a variable speed 92 mm PWM fan. Although it's not the quietest or best-performing cooler, it offers a good blend of price, performance, and noise. This Rosewill was recently featured in Thomas Soderstrom’s latest cooler comparison.

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  • Silmarunya
    I always find this the most interesting of the three builds. The best possible build is quite obvious in the mid and high end, it's in this sort of budget machines that you really have to make tough choices. And just as always, I'm surprised to see the potency that this machine has.

    This could be a perfect family PC: a good GPU so the kids can do some standard gaming and there's room for GPU acceleration, a good CPU and large HDD for general purpose and a small footprint with little noise.

    Not exciting, but certainly a nice build.
  • excesssum
    G'damn... I wish we had these prices in Europe.
  • Silmarunya
    excesssumG'damn... I wish we had these prices in Europe.

    Yup, I sure wish. I'm living in Belgium at we're one of the most expensive in Europe. Buying in England, the Netherlands and especially Germany usually saves me quite a bit of cash, but even there prices are a lot higher than in the US. The extremely low taxes probably explain the difference :)
  • Nick_C
    So, NVidia 3 : ATi 0 - biased much?
  • LePhuronn
    Nick_CSo, NVidia 3 : ATi 0 - biased much?

    Oh shut up.

    These systems were built for best performance for the budget - right now Nvidia's taken the crown back.