What Happens Now

We have the components for both of these systems in house, ready to build, test and review. This will take a couple of weeks, and we’ve chosen a good array of benchmarks to suit most needs while still retaining the focus of the purpose of this round of Build-A-Rig: an $800 back-to-school system. Given the responses from both Silverstone and Crucial, it is clear that Silverstone sees gaming and portability as key factors whereas Crucial have spent more on processing power and fast storage which might be useful in more BTS scenarios. Both systems come with an NVIDIA graphics card, although there is some slight difference here which will also factor into the equation.

We will write up each PC for a full individual review, as well as a build log describing the experience of how the parts fit together. These reviews will be released over the next couple of weeks. We have a new dedicated editor working on each build (Daniel Williams), so any bias coming from doing these interviews is null and void – the reviews will shed light into how building the systems is easy, difficult, or fun to do.

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

How to Enter

For Build-A-Rig, we are posting the survey link on each piece so users can enter at any time. The final entry date is listed in the survey, and will most likely be a few days after we post our final round-up later in the month.

For the purposes of the giveaways, we should state that standard AnandTech rules apply. The full set of rules will be given in the survey link, but the overriding implementation is that the giveaways are limited to United States of America (US50), excluding Rhode Island, and winners must be 18 years or older.

With apologies to our many loyal readers outside the US, restricting the giveaways to the US is due to the fact that AnandTech (and more specifically our publisher, Purch) is a US registered company and competition law outside the US is very specific for each nation, with some requiring fees or legal implementations to be valid with various consequences if rules aren’t followed. It’s kind of difficult for the rules of 190+ countries/nations worldwide to all be followed, especially if certain ones demand fees for even offering a contest or tax on prizes. We recognize that other online magazines and companies do offer unrestricted worldwide competitions, but there are specific rules everyone should be following in order to stay on the side of the law. That’s the reality of it, and unfortunately we cannot change on this front, even with the help of Purch.

The survey link is:


Your Thoughts

Not everyone builds a system the same way in the same budget, and it’s all fine and well for us here at AnandTech to reel off a parts list but it seems to be great fun for everyone involved when the manufacturers of the components actually do it instead. Clearly there are disagreements to be had over which case to use, whether this SSD is better than that SSD and all sorts of things.

So do you prefer having two extreme items and upgrading over time, or having a general all-around system every few years? Thoughts and comments on the builds from SilverStone and Crucial are highly recommended. If you would take the $800 back-to-school focused build differently (perhaps AMD, or iGPU only, or a true mini-PC, or even just a UX305 laptop), explain why choosing some parts over others would be an important factor in your decision.

Build-A-Rig R2: Crucial’s ‘Ballistix Bantam’


View All Comments

  • Mr Perfect - Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - link

    True, I was simply trying to get more of these mITX challenges going, though. The first builds where ATX monsters and it's easy to build one of those. There are no space constraints, cooling components is a snap and it's easy keeping noise in check. A mITX takes a little finesse though, so I'd think it would make for a more interesting competition. The round two builds got hit pretty hard with the budget hammer, they didn't get to push any boundaries. Reply
  • gamer1000k - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    I priced out a $1500 mITX for fun in the previous build-a-rig competition. It ended up pretty similar to the Corsair build (unlocked i5 and 980TI) but in a mITX case.

  • PPalmgren - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    I have a 980ti in a micro-ATX case, with really strong cooling, and the thing still gets quite loud. I'm pretty close to that 'noise cutoff' point where the noise becomes a major detractor. I can't imagine a 980ti doing any better in an ITX unless it was a roomy cube with dedicated airflow like the Corsair 250D. Reply
  • gamer1000k - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    The case I chose (Silverstone FTZ01) uses a riser card to move the GPU next to the motherboard instead of putting it on top of it and has vents directly over the GPU fans. This design provides better GPU cooling than a lot of large towers since the GPU can directly pull in cool air from the room instead of hot air from inside the case. Reply
  • Zap - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    I'm liking this build-a-rig round, from the budget to the SFF results.

    If I had to choose, I would pick the Silverstone. I don't think there are any show stoppers in the choices. Redirect data folders (My Videos, My Documents, Downloads, etc.) to the HDD to alleviate space issues on the SSD. If nothing is running off the HDD, won't notice the lack of performance. Dual cores is still somewhat sufficient as long as the user doesn't keep tons of stuff running all the time.

    The Crucial build does have more weaknesses. Most glaring weakness is the PSU. This unit is only 72% efficient, no published combined +12v output (theoretical max 43A or 516W but I wouldn't trust that) or temperature rating, and doesn't even have active PFC. Note that Thermaltake makes multiple TR2 600W units, and I'm talking about the one linked at Newegg which is the TR-600. There is an updated TR-600P model for only $12 more at Newegg which fixes all these issues. Other than that, already pointed out that $20 more gets a GTX 960. Rest of the parts are fine for their purposes.

    If I had to configure a system?
    (Pricing/availability taken from Newegg 10/13/15 not counting rebates, taxes, shipping)

    CPU - Intel Core i3-4170 $125
    (Good price for 4 threads.)
    Mobo - ASRock H81M-ITX/WIFI $63
    (PCIe2 not yet limitation, basic WiFi in case that's what the dorms have.)
    GPU - MSI GTX 960 4GB $205
    (Overclocked, 4GB for those "2GB not enough" naysayers."
    RAM - Mushkin ECO2 8GB (2 x 4GB) $36
    (Great price for 1600MHz 1.35v DDR3L)
    SSD - Crucial MX200 2.5" 500GB SSD $130
    (I think one big SSD is more usable unless actually storing huge amounts of data.)
    HDD - none
    PSU - Silverstone ST45SF $70
    (Proven unit. Get FSP version if cheaper at time of buying.)
    Case - Silverstone Milo ML08B $75
    (So small, does it really need a handle?)
    CPU cooler - none/stock
    OS - Windows 10 $100
    Extras - none
    Total = $804
  • frenchy_2001 - Friday, October 16, 2015 - link

    I like your build. More balanced.
    Better CPU, but sacrificed OC (good trade off)
    More SSD, but no HDD (fine for the budget. Can always add more storage for cheap later)
    no handle (not a need for me)
    DDR3L (can maybe reuse for a Skylake build down the road)
    Stock cooler (most probably fine)
    4GB 960 (good for now and immediate future)

    Then, down the road, you can add storage and maybe a quieter cooler if needed.
    That box can be used both as main dorm PC and/or HTPC.

    Very nice.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    These sustems are pretty well matched. With the exception of the Thermaltake TR2 600W in Crucial's build. That is one seriously cheap power supply (in a bad way), although maybe I'm biased because I've had several Thermaltake power supplies blow up on me. Reply
  • KAlmquist - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    I agree, especially since this build isn't going to draw anything close to 600W. A Seasonic SSP-300ET ($41) would be better, but if it were me I would try to fit a Seasonic SSR-360GP ($64) or an FSP Group Aurum S 400W ($60) into the budget. Reply
  • PPalmgren - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    It seems like the goal was to allow upgradeability room, and in that case, I think its a decent fit. No better/different than a CX600 or something. Reply
  • amightywind - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Both cases are great. I prefer the Crucial/i3 build. Multithreading is no longer optional and clearly appropriate for back-to-school. The weaker graphics don't put me off. In the past 15 years I have built half-a-dozen mid-market machines with reduced size cases using Anandtech's build guides. I'm glad they are emphasizing this again. Really useful info, but with a short half-life. The hobbyist PC component market is really a thing to behold. I really like the idea competing builds with constraints. Reply

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