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
Crucial's
Ballistix Bantam
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium G3258
(2C/2T, 3.2 GHz)
Intel Core i3-4170
(2C/4T, 3.7 GHz)
Motherboard ASRock
H97M-ITX/ac
GIGABYTE
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
600W
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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  • xunknownx - Thursday, December 03, 2015 - link

    no offense but $800 for a pentium or an i3?

    i built an i3 htpc for around $400 and i helped someone build an i7 for around $800
    Reply
  • mrfou - Thursday, December 03, 2015 - link

    That's fair but you probably didn't go the discreet GPU (and or SSD) way for an HTPC. It's not necessarily a bad idea to include a discreet GPU given that it is the bottleneck in many scenarios (it takes an SLI setup for the CPU to become the limiting factor in games for example). That being said I would really love to see the next iteration of this contest to revolve around HTPCs. Reply
  • xdrol - Thursday, December 03, 2015 - link

    Skylake's GPU is perfectly fine for HTPC, and all Skylake chip has the same GPU config (apart from turbo clock speed, max 10% difference).

    I actually vote for i5s: true 4 cores blast 2 core chips even just browsing JS-heavy sites (hello Facebook..), but don't cost infinite money.
    Reply
  • _stone13 - Tuesday, December 08, 2015 - link

    While you are correct that many people can get away with Skylake's GPU for a HTPC, it would never, ever be able to handle the load MadVR can put on a graphics card. Heck, even a 980 Ti would probably sweat with all the settings turned up.

    Granted there are only a few people that like to run MadVR but I thought it would be good to throw that out there for the folks that would want to get the most out of their video files.
    Reply
  • przemo_li - Monday, December 07, 2015 - link

    Dunno. R9 380X are cheaper on lower price range end... So if CPU is Intels, it seam that those GPUs where choosed for brand not for value. Reply
  • Aichon - Thursday, December 03, 2015 - link

    If you don't mind my asking, what were the rest of the specs and what was the i7 build being used for?

    It's easy to put a component like an i7 into a build for dirt cheap, as you pointed out. What's difficult is to balance the rest of the build for dirt cheap so that the i7 doesn't go to waste. For most people (though certainly not all!), an $800 build won't benefit much from an i7 over an i5. And for back-to-school uses, which is what this contest was for, you likely don't need either. They'd both be overkill for the intended use case.
    Reply
  • xunknownx - Friday, December 04, 2015 - link

    this was last year in october. looking at my newegg invoice

    i7 3790 - $309
    corsair 600 watt psu - $70
    ASROCK|Z97 PRO4 LGA 1150 -- $109
    8GB ram - $75
    corsair carbide 200R case - $70
    DVD burner $20
    this comes to $653 + tax

    at the time, i sold my friend my old 120GB samsung 830 SSD for $50. at todays, prices, you can probably get a 256GB for around $80 +/-?

    thats around $750 total. yes were using onboard GPU, but an i7 at under $800 is still very possible. if you want discrete graphics and still want to keep it under $800, then i would go i5 and spend the extra savings on a discrete gpu. you can play around with prices and add/subtract here and there to fit your needs.
    Reply
  • xunknownx - Friday, December 04, 2015 - link

    i dont get email notifications so i didnt know people replied. but to my point, prices have came down from last year for ssd and ram atleast. some people may not need a optical drive for example and can save there. there are cheaper mobos. i know i didnt include a standard spinning HD but unless this is your very first desktop, you should have a few HDDs laying around that you can pop in. and for the price of windows, well if you know a friend........ i'll leave it at there. Reply
  • bigboxes - Monday, December 07, 2015 - link

    Yeah, it seems you left out the cost of the OS. Now, I may not pay for Windows, but you have to include the cost of the OS to get a real apples/apples comparison. And yeah, you didn't include an HDD or full retail for the SDD. Then there's your choice of 2-3 year old CPU. So, you're really not building a new computer. You're waiting for a "friend" to hook you up with used parts, free OS and leaving out key components. And that may be perfectly fine in real life, but hardly comparable to the parameters for this contest. Reply
  • xunknownx - Monday, December 07, 2015 - link

    actually the cpu was new when i bought it at the time. the ssd is old at the time but new ssds are even cheaper now Reply

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