Project Overview

"Project Gryphon" is my first LAN Party oriented rig and is also the most budget-restrictive build I've done to date.

The project's overall goals are:
1) Build a decent performance gaming rig
2) Should be lightweight so it'll be easier to tote around
3) Build it for as cheap as possible

Bearing those three objectives in mind, I also can't stand a loud case, so I'm also aiming for a quiet rig. As for the budget, I'm trying my hardest to keep it well below $300.

Recap From Last Time

Now as I've said last time, I already have some leftover parts to use so that helps me save on costs but also limits my options as far as motherboards go. I have a Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3 GHz left over from my upgrade on my desktop rig as well as a 512 MB PNY GeForce 9600GT (PCI-E) graphics card from another rig. Luckly "dirt cheap" and "LGA775" go together hand-in-hand as I've found the perfect motherboard for my needs while being as cheap as possible.

Now with practically every build for the last 4-5 years, I've spent weeks to months doing research on parts, problems, and planning before I actually start buying components and assembling the rig.

For this particular rig, I had a general idea of what I wanted to put into it and what the final result might be:

Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3 GHz
2 GB of DDR2 800 RAM
Micro ATX LGA775 Motherboard
mATX Aluminum Case
GeForce 9600GT
250 GB HDD
DVD Burner
1 intake fan, 1 exhaust fan
Fan Controller
Decent PSU
Windows VIsta/7 x64

With that in mind, I set out to find what I needed which was everything on that list except for the CPU and graphics card.

In the previous blog post, I had settled on the case, Linkworld 727-02 which I found at Micro Center for $17.99 + tax (under $20). That settled the case, but not everything else.

I also settled on the carrying strap for the rig. I chose the Sunbeam Lan Party Bag in black. The cheapest I could find this item was for just under $20 over at ChiefValue (subsidary of NewEgg and was subsequently cheaper than NewEgg by one whole dollar :D).

Deciding on the Core Components

Fast forward to today and I've already settled on the major core components (CPU, RAM, Mobo, Graphics, HDD, PSU). So here are my selections:


Zotac G31MAT-B-E
$41 @ Amazon

Status: Planning to purchase by end of July.

Zotac G31MAT-B-E

So I've spent the last few days searching the net for the best deal on the best mATX LGA775 board I could find that would support my E8400 CPU and DDR2 800 RAM with at least 2 DIMM slots. Almost by luck, I came across this wonder over at Amazon for just under $41 and free shipping to boot!

Unfortunately, this probably means I will be attempting to get a refund from Valve/Steam on my Medal of Honor pre-order so I can use the $60 towards this project.

Hard Drive

250 GB Western Digital SATA300 HDD, Model WD2500AAKS
$48 @ ZipZoomFly

Status: Need more money.

Stock Image

I didn't want to settle for a old EIDE 80 GB from years past from my pile o' parts since I didn't want to deal with decreased airflow nor the slower performance. I also wanted some extra space and thus settled on this particular drive. With my recent woes with the Seagate 7200.11 drives, I decided to steer clear of them and knowing how poorly NewEgg packages their hard drives (when you only purchase HDDs), I opted for ZZF instead (excellent packaging). Unfortunately, ZZF did not carrying anymore 7200.12 250 GB SATA300 HDDs at the time of this writing, so I had to settle on the slightly more expensive WD above.


2 GB Kingston ValueRAM DDR2 800
$47 @ Amazon

Status: Need more money, Last item to buy.

Kingston ValueRAM

Not wanting to settle only for 1.5 GBs from a older rig nor wanting to waste the 2nd DIMM slot for a 512 MB module, I've settled on this Kingston DDR2 RAM instead. Potentially, I'll probably purchase another stick down the line. As of now, $100 on RAM is too much, even though 4 GBs is ideal in a gaming build nowadays.

Power Supply

500W HEC Raptor R500
$25 @ NewEgg (comes with a free mouse - limited time offer)

Status: Just purchased.

HEC Raptor R500

Hopefully I've picked a good PSU and have done my homework right on this particular choice. $25 was the ideal price point I wanted the PSU to come in at and this one hit the mark while providing ample juice on the +12V rail line, comes in black, and offering a more quiet 120mm cooling fan. Plus it even comes with a free mouse, however tiny and potentially useless it might be. ;)

Most have probably never heard of the "HEC" brand name, but perhaps may have heard the "Compucase" brand name. In the end, both brands are the same company. From what I found online, HEC at one point produced PSUs for Antec (in the '90s) and still produces some units used in Dell and HP desktops.

Past reviews of a few 480W units from HEC on Hardware Secrets shows promise and at least stable voltages and that they deliver on their promised wattage on load.

For reference, here's the projected power consumption of the rig:

Current Rig Photos and Changes Made

As with any ongoing build project, I make some side decisions on athestics and this results in minor changes. The only minor change is that I've replaced the standard case screws holding the side panel covers with glossy black thumbscrews. Also I put in a old IDE LG DVD Burner. This serves mostly as a placeholder. I have not decided if I'm going to keep this or spend the extra $22 on a new SATA DVD Burner.

So here are some current pictures of the build so far:

In Closing...

Stay tuned as I'll have more pictures and probably one or two more blog posts. I'll fully document the assembly of the rig which will hopefully give some of you a general idea on how a PC is put together and give a example on what one typically runs into when he/she starts putting it all together.