THAT’S A WRAP. We’ve got our $285 bud­get build up and run­ning. As men­tioned, we in­stalled Win­dows to make life eas­ier when it comes to work­ing out how well this ma­chine runs com­pared to our zero-point. And for the sake of a rea­son­able com­par­i­son, we’ve changed our zero-point from the usual $1,050 ma­chine to the $482 In­tel Core i38100 rig we built just over half a year ago. With dou­ble the me­mory and a pro­ces­sor that costs twice as much, it should give us a far bet­ter ground­ing than the Ryzen 5 and GTX 1060 sys­tem we usu­ally use.

Th­ese builds are al­ways easy to put to­gether. There are five parts in­side that chas­sis, with the only prob­lems be­ing the trou­ble­some rear I/O shield, and de­cid­ing how to run the CPU cable. Ev­ery­thing else was a cake­walk.

Get­ting the thing to run was an­other mat­ter. Af­ter piec­ing it to­gether, we re­al­ized the BIOS hadn’t been up­dated to sup­port the Ryzen Vega chip. That meant strip­ping it out and, as dis­cussed, pop­ping in a Ryzen 5 1600 and a GTX 1060, just to up­grade the BIOS. Then it was a case of whip­ping them out and putting the Athlon back in­side.

Once that was done, we in­stalled Win­dows, made sure AMD’s chipset was in­stalled ( im­per­a­tive if you want rea­son­able GPU per­for­mance), and con­tin­ued with the per­for­mance test­ing.

How did it do? Not as well as we’d like. There’s no doubt that the Athlon 200GE will be the bud­get pro­ces­sor of choice, but it’s not as game-chang­ing as the Pen­tium G4568 was when it first launched. We reckon this is in part due to how the two pro­ces­sors are de­signed. Ryzen’s core com­plex and In­fin­ity Fab­ric, al­though ever more im­pres­sive the higher up the prod­uct stack you go, don’t carry much weight in com­par­i­son to the mono­lithic ar­chi­tec­tural style of the lower-end In­tel parts. Once you hit that bud­get mark, im­proved la­tency and bet­ter sin­gle-core per­for­mance carry a lot more clout than com­plex in­ter­con­nect fab­rics.

As such, it was a lit­tle un­der­whelm­ing. Cinebench R15 scored 355 points in mul­ti­core mode, and 126 points in sin­gle-core (about the same as a Core i52500K). What did im­press, how­ever, was the drive per­for­mance. Man, that Cru­cial B500 SSD is some­thing else.

Un­for­tu­nately, that 4GB of RAM was a mas­sive lim­i­ta­tion in games, with most ti­tles not even load­ing their bench­marks, due to a lack of me­mory, both on and off the chip. We did man­age to get Leagueof

Leg­ends run­ning, and it was playable, but any­thing more de­mand­ing, and you’d be out of luck.

Ul­ti­mately, our $285 build was an ex­er­cise in tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise, putting the money where it counts, and see­ing what we could do. Are we happy with it? Of course; for light of­fice work, web brows­ing, and more, it’s a fine rig. With a few tweaks, it could be in­cred­i­ble, but that’s an­other story for an­other day.

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