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Despite our lower budget, you've made it clear that you want to see at least 8 GB in this mid-range build. Crucial's DDR3 kit does the job for a reasonable $53 on Newegg, and with good 8-8-8-24 timings at 1,600 MT/s, too.
With no money for an SSD boot drive, today's system relies on a 500 GB Seagate Barracuda.
It's true that 500 GB isn't very large by today's standards. At least the 7,200 RPM spindle and 16 MB data cache help on the performance side, though. Make no mistake: the reason we went for this disk was its $60 price tag.
To put it simply, we chose the DVD-R drive with the lowest price. On the day we placed our order, Samsung's SH224BB earned that distinction for $18.