Crucial’s ‘Ballistix Bantam’

The build from Jeremy takes a slightly different line to that from Tony. The best thing about Build-A-Rig is the differing styles of build philosophy and this is a prime example. Here the portability and GPU power is decreased as well as removing the overclockability. But in exchange there is a beefier i3 processor, double the solid state storage, a DVD drive and a larger power supply. It’s going to be an interesting comparison for sure. Jeremy's build also comes in at $20 or so cheaper than the SilverStone build, by virtue of adjustments in pricing and our rules about a 3% leeway based on how prices are adjusted.

Crucial's Ballistix Bantam
Component Selection Price as
Chosen
90-Day
Average
Processor (CPU) Intel Core i3-4170 (2C/4T, 3.7 GHz) $124.99 $124.82
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-B85N Phoenix-WiFi $84.99 $84.99
Graphics Cards (GPU) EVGA GeForce GTX 950 $159.99 $159.99
Memory (DRAM) Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer
2x4GB DDR3-1600 C8
$47.99 $48.92
Storage (SSD) Crucial MX200 mSATA 250GB $94.99 $94.99
Storage (HDD) Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM $50.99 $49.81
Power Supply (PSU) Thermaltake TR2 600W $54.99 $55.05
Chassis Thermaltake Core V1 Extreme Cube $49.99 $49.99
CPU Cooling None - -
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit OEM $99.99 $99.99
Extras LG USB 2.0 Portable DVDRW $24.99 $24.99
Total   $793.90 $793.54

Processor – Intel Core i3-4170 ($125)

For almost double the Pentium in the other build, Jeremy has equipped the Ballistix Bantam with a 3.7 GHz Core i3 processor, giving two cores and four threads. This is the most powerful 3MB cache edition of the i3 set, before it costs another $25 to the 4MB cache versions. While not overclockable, this 54W model should be sufficient for more multitasking in a compute laden scenario.

Motherboard – GIGABYTE B85N Phoenix-WIFI ($85)

The B85 line of motherboards is more oriented to the cheaper end of the spectrum and the business lines, although this orange motherboard from GIGABYTE sports 2x2 802.11ac WiFi, multiple video outputs, specialized USB audio ports and the usual host of storage options.

Graphics Cards – EVGA GeForce GTX 950 2GB ($160)

As mentioned at the start of this page, this build gets a lower range graphics card in the form of the GTX 950, but Jeremy has chosen one of EVGA’s overclocked models. EVGA has a cult-like following, priding itself in their returns policy and customer interaction through forums. The GTX 950 will have plenty of power for eSports titles and online gameplay, although for big studio releases the visual effects will need to be curtailed. For users who do not game, this will be perfectly sufficient for any GPU accelerated tasks that might be needed.

Memory – Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 C8 ($48)

The Tracer modules from Crucial integrate some LEDs into the top band, allowing users to show off their system with the Thermaltake case also chosen in the build. Similar to the other build here we get that 8GB sweet spot for the $800 budget, although Jeremy has stretched it to the modules with a CAS Latency of 8. This might have some effect on memory sensitive workloads (think compression algorithms), or it might not be noticeable, but it is a welcome addition.

Storage – Crucial MX200 mSATA 250GB ($95)

Because Jeremy chose the B85 platform, unfortunately there are no M.2 slots here to use, but there is an mSATA. As a result, rather than choose a 2.5-inch SSD for the operating system drive, we get Crucial’s 250GB mSATA MX200 drive. These perform similarly to the bigger 2.5-inch models, which we reviewed earlier this year. With 250GB, this gives more room to install vital software for fast loading times, but is obviously chosen in favor of other beefier components.

Storage – Seagate Barracuda 3.5-inch 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($51)

Similarly to the other build, a 1TB drive is chosen to increase the total storage capacity. Here we have the Seagate Barracuda line which is often in the lower price ranges for their capacity. Typically these drives are good in a single or dual drive system and have been continually dropping in price over the past couple of years.

Power Supply – Thermaltake TR2 600W Power Supply ($55)

The TR2 from Thermaltake is a monster power supply for the system, rated at 600W with a dual rail design and a five year warranty. Interestingly Thermaltake hasn’t put this in as part of the 80PLUS power supply rating scheme, but the five year warranty covers any issues and as a unit it should fit in with the Thermaltake case selected.

Chassis – Thermaltake Core V1 Extreme Mini-ITX Cube ($50)

We first saw the Core V1 design at Computex, where the product manager gave us a good story about the road to a $50 mini-ITX case that was both small but could also be customized, shown off, provide good airflow and support water cooling. There are plenty of ventilation holes and the top of the chassis provides a transparent Perspex plate in order to look into the system.

CPU Cooling – None/Stock

In an interesting move, Jeremy went with keeping the stock cooler in this design. His reasoning is sound – this is a 54W power supply in a chassis with plenty of ventilation and this saves anywhere from $20-$40 to spend on other components. A number of users might point to something as simple as an EVO 212 instead of the DVD drive Jeremy has chosen, but that’s what is great about this contest: everyone will have different ideas.

Operating System – Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit OEM ($100)

Another twist is the choice of operating system. Jeremy chose Windows 8.1 under the guise of choice; users can either keep Windows 8.1 if they prefer it over Windows 10, or for the first few months decide to upgrade to the full license.

Extras – LG USB 2.0 Portable DVDRW ($25)

Perhaps because it might be needed to install the OS, Jeremy also went with a DVD rewriter in case a user might have some old software or films on DVD that they would like to use. As mentioned in the review, Jeremy himself has a large back-catalogue of software and games and so for him (or his son) having access to a DVD drive is part of the equation in a build.

Overall Build

Crucial's Ballistix Bantam
Component Selection Price as
Chosen
90-Day
Average
Processor (CPU) Intel Core i3-4170 (2C/4T, 3.7 GHz) $124.99 $124.82
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-B85N Phoenix-WiFi $84.99 $84.99
Graphics Cards (GPU) EVGA GeForce GTX 950 $159.99 $159.99
Memory (DRAM) Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer 2x4GB
DDR3-1600 C8
$47.99 $48.92
Storage (SSD) Crucial MX200 mSATA 250GB $94.99 $94.99
Storage (HDD) Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM $50.99 $49.81
Power Supply (PSU) Thermaltake TR2 600W $54.99 $55.05
Chassis Thermaltake Core V1 Extreme Cube $49.99 $49.99
CPU Cooling None - -
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit OEM $99.99 $99.99
Extras LG USB 2.0 Portable DVDRW $24.99 $24.99
Total   $793.90 $793.54

As with both builds, there are choices that I (as Ian, the writer) agree with and others that might be a bit questionable. Jeremy has certainly been a little esoteric from what I would have gone with, especially in the CPU cooling and OS department, but the storage size is sound and I like the fact that he’s gone for an i3 here. The GTX 950 has room to upgrade in the future, but the DRAM (when the LEDs are on) should shine directly though the case. The Ballistix Bantam build here is still portable as a cube, although that’s a segment that Tony from SilverStone clearly wanted to spend money on for the Mighty Milo.

Build-A-Rig R2: Interview with Jeremy Mortenson (Crucial Memory) Build-A-Rig R2: What Happens Next, How to Enter
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Straight up Team Tony Ou and SilverStone over here, and I think you'd find that sentiment to be pretty common in the case/cooling/PSU side of Corsair.

    I like Tony's build better. While it's true, the Pentium's lack of hyper-threading may cut its legs off down the road, Tony's build just feels more classy and balanced, and the components are a bit higher quality. There's also just more you can do with it; I'm a sucker for an overclockable system.

    My hat's off to both, but I'm calling this one for Tony and SilverStone. ;)
    Reply
  • frenchy_2001 - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    I also really like it.
    The ML08 is everything I was looking for in a thin mITX case: small and thin while allowing for full graphic card and would fit great as an HTPC.
    I would argue that for a BTS build, I may have gone for more CPU and less graphics, but both builds are fairly balanced. I love the SSD+HDD storage, reflecting realistic needs for BTS (opposite of the previous builds with high end components, but little storage).
    I could live and use either system, but points for style to Silverstone.
    Reply
  • TallestJon96 - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Both good builds, but I think a lentil, with a cooler will lose to an i3. Reply
  • TallestJon96 - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Pentium* where is that darn edit button... Reply
  • jaydee - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Take the Crucial build, trade the B85 board for ASRock H97 board and save $20. Trade the mSata SSD for Crucial BX100 and save $40. Take that $60 in savings and trade the i3-4170 for an i5-4460. Reply
  • fokka - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    makes sense. and who could resist an i5 when we're competing with pentium and i3? Reply
  • gamer1000k - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Just for fun, here's my build. Note that it doesn't include an OS since you can get Windows for free through most schools.

    Name: Budget Beast
    CPU: Intel i5-4430 $185
    Mobo: AsRock H97M-ITX $84
    RAM: G.SKILL Aegis 16GB DDR-3 1600 $74
    GPU: Zotac GeForce 960 ZT-90308-10M 4GB $215
    SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB $169
    Case: Rosewill Neutron $40
    PSU: Corsair CX430 430W $40

    Lots of little things that could be changed on here (could drop down to an i3 to upgrade something else or halve the RAM to free up some cash) but I wanted to make sure that the PC would have what it needed for the next few years and not cheap out too much on the core components (I hate being stuck with old components after upgrading, I would rather leave empty slots I can fill later). The case has room for 3.5" drives if you need more storage later, and also supports 5.25" optical drives if you need them.
    Reply
  • gamer1000k - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Edit: Total Price: $806

    Anandtech, you really need to update your post system to support standard features like preview/edit and such...
    Reply
  • coconutboy - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    ++

    it's 2015, being able to edit, even if it's only within a short time frame, is the norm. Not having it, especially on well-known tech site is just bizarre.
    Reply
  • fokka - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    i'm starting to like the user builds more and more! i5/16gb/500gb ssd/960 4gb instead of pentiums, puny SSDs, slow HDDs and optical drives? yes please!

    and i agree with your sentiment: i'd rather get the cornerstones right from the beginning, i can always add more storage and optical drives later.

    can't you also get windows for free if you always install the preview builds? omitting the cost of the os seems a bit unfair of course, but with the hardware you have listed up there it's kinda hard not to cheat. ^^
    Reply

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