Our Build-A-Rig project is a place where PC hardware manufacturers (memory companies, case companies, GPU, CPU, power supply, storage et al.) are given an imaginary budget and a rough guideline on what system they should build fo that budget. Then we at AnandTech, with our partners Newegg, get the components in, build the system, interview the person that provided the spec list, give a run down of the components, test the system and then offer it as a giveaway to our readers.

This iteration was our second round, featuring Tony Ou from SilverStone Technology and Jeremy Mortenson from Cruicial Memory. The goal for this round was a Back-to-School build for $800. Both systems focused on different areas of CPU power, GPU grunt, storage and form factor.

Follow these links to read the interviews with Tony and Jeremy, as well as the component rundowns for SilverStone's Mighty Milo build and Crucial's Ballistix Bantam. We then built both the SilverStone and Crucial machines, then gave them a good run down in our test suite.

A full run down of both systems is as follows:

Build-A-Rig Round 2 Comparison
Component SilverStone's
Mighty Milo
Ballistix Bantam
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium G3258
(2C/2T, 3.2 GHz)
Intel Core i3-4170
(2C/4T, 3.7 GHz)
Motherboard ASRock
B85N Phoenix-WiFi
Graphics Cards (GPU) Zotac GeForce GTX 960 OC EVGA GeForce GTX 950
Memory (DRAM) Crucial Ballistix Sport XT
2x4GB DDR3-1600 C9
Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer
2x4GB DDR3-1600 C8
Storage (SSD) Crucial BX100 120GB Crucial MX200 mSATA 250GB
Storage (HDD) Western Digital Blue 2.5-inch
1TB 5400RPM 8MB Cache
Seagate Barracuda 3.5-inch
1TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache
Power Supply (PSU) SilverStone ST45SF
450W Bronze SFF
Thermaltake TR2
Chassis SilverStone Milo ML08B-H
(with handle)
Thermaltake Core V1
Extreme Cube
CPU Cooling SilverStone Argon AR06 None
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home
64-bit OEM
Microsoft Windows 8.1
64-bit - OEM
Extras None LG USB 2.0 Portable DVDRW
Total $811.90 $793.90

After sifting through the entries of what has been another successful round for our Build-A-Rig project, we are ready to announce the winners. This time around each of our winners is receiving one of the two systems. The winners are as follows:

Both winners will be contacted shortly for their shipping details at the email address provided.

Build-A-Rig Round 3 is currently on hold due to external factors beyond our control, but we have plenty of ideas in the running when we're ready to get going again. Congratulations to our two winners, and thanks to all who participated.

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  • bigboxes - Monday, December 7, 2015 - link

    I think my post still stands. It's not that you can't do better. It's the fact that you haven't until you list all your parts and have them comparable to others. I have a 4790k in my main rig. I know that I spent more on my sum of parts than many. However, when I run benchmarks such as PCMark 8 my scores are close to 1k higher than similar builds.

    Anyways, put together a paper build with an i7 with all new parts that are comparable to those in the contest and see what you come up with.
  • tipoo - Thursday, December 3, 2015 - link

    The cheapest i7 on PCPartPicker is almost 300USD. Sure, if you want a good CPU and little else of high performance, that's fine, but if you want a decent dedicated GPU and a SSD the i3 will be better balanced on a tight budget.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, December 3, 2015 - link

    If you shop at places like Micro Center, you can leave the store with an i7+mobo for $300.
  • tipoo - Thursday, December 3, 2015 - link

    Alright, but that's still leaving you with only 400 for everything else, 200 to match the 960 alone...OPs point is still neither here nor there, if you want CPU performance alone that's fine, but the above are clearly balanced budget gaming rigs.
  • wolfemane - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Right now cheapest i7 is $250, cheapest mobo (and I do mean a cheap board) $40. So you are right you can walk out the door with components... oh wait...

    IN STORE ONLY, and only 18 centers in the country. You actually have to walk in to walk out with those prices. This is not a reliable source of cheap computer components for the general public.

    I wish people would stop using micro center as an example. They have great deals, but only if one is within driving distance.

    ...and we all need to keep in mind that as of Dec. 3rd the price for these systems are considerably less. Using Newegg only (except on the Gigabyte board which isn't offered on new egg anymore, had to use Amazon) the Mighty Milo comes in at $650 ($670 depending on which 960 you get as the one they have is no longer available), and the Bantam is $650.
  • forgot2yield28 - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    That limits you to a very small portion of the population, or a road trip where you spend the savings on gas. Not really fair to quote an outlier that a lot of people don't have access to (that said, I live a five mintue walk from one, so you betcha I'm gobbling up those savings).
  • looncraz - Thursday, December 3, 2015 - link

    That's what I was thinking. I just built a custom GAMING PC for $900.26. Did a lot of deal hunting, and bought one used part, with permission, which really gave me room to push the CPU (to an i5 4690k!). And, yes, that included the stupid Windows tax. I used a cheap $18 Cooler Master Hyper TX3 cooler, cheap AsRock mATX z97 board (10% off), 8GB G.Skill Aries RAM ($6 off on sale), 2TB Toshiba HDD(got it $20 off!), used R9 290, and a Cooler Master n200 case. A cheap wireless keyboard and mouse and an HDMI cable completed the build.

    The idea of an $800 system using a Pentium CPU is laughable, though an i3 is more in-line with expectations. The usage of nVidia video cards is also laughable, AMD options in that price range tend to be notably better for the money.

    Of course, the usage of SSDs here is a factor, as that would push the full price of the SSD on top of my build.

    The "Mighty Milo" is a horrible build all around. A dual core Pentium CPU, $40 cooler that will perform worse than many ~$20 coolers, expensive SFX-format case, which uses an expensive SFX-format PSU, tiny 120GB SSD with a slow 1TB HDD as auxiliary storage, overpriced video card (you can buy a similar R9 380, with nearly identical performance, for $30 less)... just pitiful. The choice for motherboard and RAM are acceptable.

    Crucial's build is much more balanced, though the RAM is very much overpriced, and the savings could have been put into a more powerful video card (the same R9 380) while still being an overall cheaper system. I would have definitely have gone with a different power supply for the money. Thermaltake PSU's aren't so great. Many better options for the same general price.
  • wolfemane - Thursday, December 3, 2015 - link

    Gotta keep in mind the time these systems were built. The R9 380 hadn't been released yet. but i do agree the cup cooler was a waste. That's $40 that could have been tacked onto the cpu bringing it to $110.
  • looncraz - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    The 380 was absolutely available.
  • wolfemane - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    that is correct, the 380x wasn't available at the time. HUGE mistake on my end, thanks for pointing that out.

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