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The $300 Dust Dragon - Warning! Bad pictures!

by Scrounger


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

Oct. 16, 2015

Date Built

Sept. 24, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

4.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

84.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.059 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.4 GHz


I've lost the general purpose I-3 computer in the house. There are two slow laptops and an old Athlon Tower from 15+ years ago remaining. One of the laptops is running barely operating on 2GB ram. I needed a general purpose computer with some speed. The ability to run Hearthstone and SC2 at decent settings would be a bonus. I was willing to cannibalize any other system, and all spare parts to make this happen, which is why several of the parts are $0 cost.

Case - This is a spare case made from plastic, aluminum, and steel from a 15 year old Athlon build, with about 15 years of dust accumulation. After dusting it, the build went together in under 15 minutes. The case was cavernous inside, with only one outlet case fan, creating negative pressure inside the case for 15 years. I pulled out a pound of dust, which takes up a lot of space, and that wasn't all of it. There's still more dusting to do....

The free case, HD, PSU, and operating system were the keys to this budget build. I've decided to only power the case fan and the ON button, leaving all the LEDS, speaker, reset, and front usb1.0 off. Trust me, once the exhaust case fan powers up, you don't have to guess that it's on. I'm considering modifying the case to make it positive pressure with a screened inlet fans so that this dust issue doesn't happen again. I can honestly say that this case has a $0 value!

PSU - This Allied brand PSU was already installed in the case. Its old, and doesn't match a modern PSU pinouts. The motherboard cable was a 20 pin, and the 12V was a 4 pin. There was no SATA power, so I bought an adapter from 4 pin Molex. It works, and appearently Allied is not known as a Time Bomb brand. The exhaust of this has some visible dust inside it (which means the whole interior of the PSU might be saturated). I'm going to figure out how to clean this out, I may just find a compressed air hose and blow air through until all the dust gets dislodged and flies out. Sorry PCPP Fans, I have no intention to sleeve the rainbow cables on this PSU. It makes as much sense as turbocharging to a Yugo.

HD - I had the 1 TB WD-Blue and the a 40 GB thin 2.5" Seagate (from a PS3, closest 40gb seagate part linked) laying around. I have more random drives around, but with the adapter, I only have power for two SATA devices. The old Hard Drive, 3.5" floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, and DVD burner are all IDE with those ribbon cables. There appears to be no place to plug these into the modern motherboard. Since I don't have the covers that would fill the holes in the case if removed, I've abandoned them in place.

CPU: $72 G3258 - This is a bang for the buck build, and it doesn't get any better than this when you're looking at cost. I'll see what I can do on the stock cooler first. Remember - Cheap!

MB: $59 Asus Z87 NFC - There was a crazy deal letting this Z board go for only $59 (with MIR). This should allow a better Overclock than the H81 boards I was going to use. Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice the M-Itx form factor I wanted. The rebate came through! This is a welcome change from most of my rebate experience, which adds significantly to my brand loyalty. Thanks Asus! I'm not exactly sure what to do with this Near Field Charging gizmo. I'm leaving all that in the box for now.

RAM - $44 8GB G.skil Ripjaws 2400mHz ram - A deal. I also have another two ram slots if needed later.

GPU - $115 MSI GTX 750Ti - I couldn't find a good open box or refurbished special. Since I'm recycling the stock PSU, having a low power draw card like the 750 Ti is a need. Has HDMI, VGA, and DVI. The plan is only one monitor, or plug HDMI into the TV. No separate power cable needed, enabling me to use the old PSU. The only thing that irks me is that this went on sale for $89 (MIR) a week after I got ordered it.

Operating System - Win 7 from one of the retired laptops. This wouldn't be budget if I had to add another $100. Rebates - I chose expedited rebates, which cost me ~$5 of the $45 I'm getting back.

Everything was purchased from NewEgg or Amazon. NCIX-USA has taken a month to ship in the past, so from now on, its Amazon or NewEgg exclusively.

Random thoughts on the build - I'm considering ordering a 140mm intake case fan, and putting it where the two 5 1/4" drives are. That would solve the giant case hole issue, and let me get rid of some weight, and convert the case to positive pressure. Since I've started to OC,I'm considering a better CPU cooler, but the limit may be the case ventilation. I've installed Plex, but there's a lot of troubleshooting needed. The current setup running video through the PS3 does not allow subtitles to be displayed, which is very annoying.

Benchmarks SC2-Ultra settings, Intro mission 109-114FPS Unigine Heaven Extreme 21-29FPS Multi-tasking - OK, but not great.

Overclocking Results so far. Some Asus autotuning helped.

*4.0GHz at 1.121V peak. Temps climbed to 71°C during benchmarking

*4.3GHz at 1.274 peak. Temps climbed to 80°C during benchmarking

*4.5Ghz at 1.377 peak. Temps climbed to 84° during benchmarking, but stay below 75 during real use. I'm leaving it here until I delid, or know enough about overclocking to fine tune.

Edit: I have an upgrade wish list generated. It includes a Seasonic gold power supply, 3 Fans, CPU Cooler, and Thermal Paste. Its all around $120, and will be purchased and installed when my rebates appear.

Part Reviews


Not the greatest processor, but it is budget, and a respectible performer once its overclocked above 4GHz.


One of the USB3.0 slots didn't work, but I'm not going to complain for $59!. Better than an H81 board, and cost less too, what's not to love?


XMP got it to 2400 flawlessly.


Reasonably fast and reasonably quiet for a reasonable price. I got this one for free, but its worth $50 easily.

Video Card

I've been really happy with this card, and also the MSI Afterburner software for overclocking the card.

Operating System

Still better than Win 8 or 10.

Comments Sorted by:

gugu96 19 Builds 3 points 41 months ago

I'm not feeling it right with the psu. If it's 15 years old, remember that the ATX standard has changed A LOT and maybe it's not a super good idea to use it with recent hardware.

edit: but you get my +1 because you started off with old dusty hardware instead of burning it or throwing it away.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 2 points 41 months ago

I'm not feeling it right with the psu. If it's 15 years old, remember that the ATX standard has changed A LOT and maybe it's not a super good idea to use it with recent hardware.

You're telling me! The case fan is two wire, and won't hook up the the MB. The PSU replacement is on the list.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 2 points 41 months ago

Thanks for all the comments. I was actually more concerned with the amount of voltage and temperature spikes than the PSU, since the voltages were stable during testing. To put this into perspective, now that it's built, the computer is used for maybe 3-4 hours a week. I do have an upgrade list, and a PSU is on it.

*PSU - Seasonic S12GII http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seasonic-power-supply-s12ii430b

*Case Fans - Arctic Cooling 140mm intake http://pcpartpicker.com/part/arctic-cooling-case-fan-afaco14000gba01

*Case Fans - Arctic Cooling 120mm 1xintake 1x exhaust http://pcpartpicker.com/part/arctic-cooling-case-fan-af12pwm

*CPU Cooler - Something besides the 212 EVO that's less than $35

*thermal paste

As you can see, it quickly adds $100+ to the build. It will get done, but it will happen all at once probably next month.

MasterOfPC 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Inb4 anyone else. +1 ;P

[comment deleted by staff]
Jhobbster 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Ok dude you've gotta get a case and power supply it's not that hard. That things gonna blow up and take everything with it bro.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 2 points 41 months ago

The PSU is on the list, but as odd as it sounds, I'm a little nostalgic about the case. I couldn't even bring my self to peel off the old AMD sticker.

Jhobbster 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Yeah guess you can't beat that vintage 90s look psu would come first either way.

OCJeebz 1 point 41 months ago

Good job on the power to cost ratio. OC doesnt look too bad either. I would have to agree with the others though. The next upgrade to that rig needs to be the psu. If it isnt supplying steady voltages its going to wreck havoc with your components over the long run.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Thank you! The voltages were fairly stable when I ran some tests on it. It's going to be replaced within the next month.

kurkuro 1 point 41 months ago

I like this build and it's cheapness, but I would want to replace the PSU and get a new HDD imo. 40 GB is below today's standards, js.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

I have the 1TB WD Blue for storage. Even holding the backups for 6 different computers, its still only half used.

I originally planned have the operating system to the 40GB drive, but I the WD one seems faster.

CQC 11 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

That psu is garbage. While not your specific unit, Jonnyguru reviewed the 500w and it's an easy "do not recommend". If you want to keep running decent parts on it that's your call, but it would be foolish to do so.

pyrogab29 1 point 41 months ago

You should get a new psu.The current one is like a timed bomb

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Already planned. I actually got one of my rebates back from my other build. I'm going to put $30 of a rebate towards a nice seasonic unit.

Amazian 1 point 41 months ago

Good job into breathing in some new life into that case. A very wise decision on reusing those components instead of recycling them +1

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Thank you! It did fell good to get this thing running again.

Ricktor 1 point 41 months ago

Great build around an awesome PSU! Actually, I just wanted to be a contrarian. ;)

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 2 points 41 months ago

Thanks, I never intended the PSU to be the highlight of the build....

ctkeat 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Awesome build! I'm not going to nag you about the PSU, but what is that red cable stretching over the CPU?

Definitely a +1, We don't see enough cool budget builds here.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Thats the rear case exhaust fan. It didn't have the correct pins to attach to the mother board, but plugs directly into the PSU. That means its single speed and on all the time - one of my gripes about this case is that its negative pressure and will accumulate dust.

ctkeat 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Ah, if that's so, I don't see anything wrong with this case if you add a intake fan.

tiny_voices 4 Builds 0 points 41 months ago

15 years of capacitor degradation on an already junk PSU is NOT god at all. I'd replace.

Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Its on the list.

[comment deleted by staff]
Scrounger submitter 4 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

I agree, but the goal for this build was to reuse parts and get something running. I actually have 3 or 4 more PSU's sitting in a closet (none of them good brands). The only reasons I chose this one over others was; it was installed, and it was proven.