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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  • wolfemane - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    I'm not discussing that an i5 isn't better, but we are talking about a budget back to school computer. An i5 is to expensive and attaching a low end graphics card will not yield the same results as a top end i3 with a mid range card. I linked one in house benchmark comparing the two, and gave suggestions to cpuboss. There is no giant performance leap for the i5 to justify the increase in cost for a student/budget PC. Post links showing a sub i5 ($180) chip with a $175 - $200 gpu out pacing the top end i3 ($140) with a. Decent mid range gpu ($275 a $300).

    This article isn't about future proofing, why use an 1150 build for future proofing. The concept is ridiculous. If this is the case we would all be discussing 1151 and sky lake (which in price is about the same, hell even performance between the low end i5 sky lake and top end i3 skylake are pretty much identical to their 1150 counterparts). And both chips have a decent performance increase over the 1150 counterparts... And cost damn near the same.

    Still, A 1150 build will last 5 years with a 960 or 380 for gaming purposes. Even if at the end of the 5 year your only running medium settings.

    You have to take the context of the article into this argument.

    Back to school

    top end i3 + midrange gpu will smash any game at high settings at 1080p.
  • freeskier93 - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Where are you getting that it's a "budget" build? $800 isn't what I would consider budget, it's pretty midrange for most people. You also seem to be focusing way to much on the gaming aspect, there are plenty of school uses that might warrant a more powerful processor than the i3.
  • wolfemane - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    My wife is a photographer who uses photoshop, lightroom, and a lot of different filters along with some kind of sorting program along with the rest of the Adobe package. We just upgraded her from an i5 2600 to the i3 6300 and Its lightning fast. Her complaints about processing time have vanished. And that little i3 makes my old 3770k seem down right ridiculously slow. Photoshop with all the editing and *gargon here* puts a pretty hefty load on the cpu. I threw in one of my older 290 cards for my own gaming preference and I can play every game I have at max settings 1080p with no noticeable frame loses. If it can handle that without any noticeable delay for my every picky wife, and handle any game I can throw at it, then why do I need to consider the i5 for a back to school system build? Why not focus the extra costs on a better gpu for a better gaming experience. I feel the i3 is worth defending in the realm of day to day processing and gaming.

    If it can handle what we throw at it, then its bound to be more than enough for the average student. imo

    ...and you are right, I should not have been using the term budget. Not sure where I got that in my head. My apologies on that front.
  • tipoo - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Many if not most of the newest games can be pushed at at least 60FPS by an i3, if the GPU allows. So that extra cash could go towards a better GPU, which will be a better upgrade for games

  • geniekid - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Nobody who has criticized the builds so far has posted a better one that follows the rules from the original article.

    "All components must be available at Newegg.com at the time of selection (so no pre-choosing unreleased parts)
    No combo deals will be considered
    No mail-in-rebates will be considered"
  • freeskier93 - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Okay... Since this is a "back to school" build, students can easily get Windows for free, so I'm not including it.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/MzRrNG">PCPartPicker part list / http://pcpartpicker.com/p/MzRrNG/by_merchant/">Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80662i565...">Intel Core i5-6500 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($204.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/msi-motherboard-z170a...">MSI Z170A PC MATE ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($92.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/kingston-memory-hx421...">Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($53.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard...">Samsung 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($77.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/western-digital-inter...">Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($51.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-video-card-04gp4...">EVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB SuperSC ACX 2.0+ Video Card ($228.98 @ Newegg)
    Case: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/nzxt-case-s210001">NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($52.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-power-supply-100...">EVGA 430W 80+ Certified ATX Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $803.89
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-12-04 17:39 EST-0500
  • wolfemane - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    This is a good build, and with a modern i5 as well.

    but there are a few things I think could make it better.

    As a back to school budget machine, is a solid state truly needed?

    You can get a 2tb Toshiba drive for $71.99 through newegg (no deals, flat price, 4+ stars)giving plenty of storage for anything school related AND games. So you save an additional $58. Take that and add it to your GPU budget and get an R9 390 8gig card (MSI @ newegg for $289.99)

    You can go even further and get the i3-6300 3.8ghz for $149.99 @newegg, saving you an additional $55. Adding this to your gpu budget puts you in the gtx 970 or R9 390x territory. Both cards which will give better performance with the i3 than the i5 on a 960 or 380 in games, and the average student won't see a performance difference in day to day usage with the i3 vs i5.

    But non the less, a really good modern build.
  • freeskier93 - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Really depends on what type of school use, admittedly vast majority of people actually using it for school would be using Word/PowerPoint. Those of us in engineering, however, benefit greatly from a powerful CPU.

    SSD is personal preference, but personally I could never go back to a HDD for OS.
  • looncraz - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    Modern HDDs are actually pretty decent - still not SSD-like, but certainly tolerable.

    I built a gaming PC with the Toshiba 2TB HDD and was quite surprised that the thing could sustain over 150MB/s, was quiet, and everything was quite responsive. I did my best to try and squeeze an SSD into the system, but the priority was CPU and graphics performance, at a set end price.

    However, even just slightly older HDDs are abysmal. I replaced a 1TB Seagate Barracuda with a 1TB Crucial BX100 and the complete boot times went from 4:52 to 0:47 without a single other change. Complete, here, meaning all storage activity died down and the last boot application was fully loaded and usable. The gaming system I built took only 1:23 to fully boot, and that included most of the same applications loading (both running W7 Ultimate x64) - not SSD fast, but entirely tolerable.
  • iLovefloss - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    What about WiFi?

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