Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
There are two 3.5-inch drive mounts in the case we’re using: one at the front, which can be used for an external 3.5-inch drive, and a mounting point at the rear, to the right of the motherboard. We’ll use the latter.
Attach the drive rails to the hard drive as shown (above, left), using the same style of screw that you used for the motherboard. Insert the drive perpendicular to the optical drive at the front of the case (above, right), then slide it back into place, making sure the SATA ports point toward the front of the case and the mounting holes on the case frame line up with the holes in the top drive rail. Secure with the pointed-ended screws.
Connect the remaining SATA power connector to the drive (below), then use the black 6Gb/s SATA data cable to connect the hard drive to the motherboard’s SATA3_0 port. The hard drive doesn’t have a SATA 6Gb/s connector, but both port and cable are backward-compatible; besides, the motherboard only comes with one SATA 3Gb/s cable, which we’ve used for the optical drive.
At this point, you’re ready to go! Check that the 24-pin power cable is connected to the motherboard, double-check your drives’ SATA power and data connections, and make sure the front-panel connectors are all in place, then replace the top cover and secure it. Now all you have to do is install your OS and you’re ready to go!
Don’t expect miracles from a budget this small. Our mini rig is more than capable of basic computing tasks, and it’s a lot more powerful than a netbook of about the same price, but it can’t hold a candle to even our $667 budget rig from last month—but then again, it’s half the price. Thanks to the integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics chip, the mini rig handily trumps much more expensive mini PCs like the Giada i50—at least in gaming and other GPU-limited tests. It can’t compete with the Giada’s Core i5-430UM, despite our rig’s higher clock speeds, in our Photoshop benchmark, or in MainConcept Reference, both of which might benefit from the Giada’s 4GB of RAM (our rig has only 2GB) and faster Core i5 microarchitecture.
Though a Blu-ray drive wasn’t in our budget for this build, we were able to play back 1080p video (the Iron Man 2 trailer we usually use for this test) with no issues using Window Media Player. And though this isn’t a gaming powerhouse—averaging around 18fps in Left 4 Dead 2 at 1280x800—it still has oomph enough for older games, which is where a gamer with a $340 hardware budget should be looking anyway. We don’t mean that in a snobby way; there are dozens of gaming classics available on sites like Gog.com for very little money that will run great on our budget build, and keep you happy and gaming for hundreds of hours.
With a $400 budget, we could have added another 2GB DIMM and replaced the hard drive with a 7,200rpm 750GB hard drive. Hell, with $1,000, we could build a truly kick-ass rig. But that wasn’t our goal. Our goal was to create a functional PC at as low a price as we could manage, and in that we succeeded, creating a device that outperforms many mini PCs and set-top rigs that are twice its price. If you need a machine for the kids, or for basic computing tasks, you don’t have to spend more than this to get something serviceable. And if you come into some money later on, you can smack some more RAM in there, add a discrete videocard, and further extend the life of your PC.
|Giada i50||$340 Budget Box|
|Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)||272||448 (-39.3%)|
|MainConcept (sec)||4,736||8,925 (-46.9%)|
|3DMark03 (3DMarks)||1,189||6,548 (450.7%)|
|Quake III (fps)||87||179.6 (106.4%)|
|Quake 4 (fps)||9||43.7 (385.6%)|
See our review of the Giada i50 here.