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DRAM, Storage, And Optical Drive

System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,000 Performance PC

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Kit

Over the past couple of years, several readers have shot over suggestions to try out 1.35 V DIMMs for overclocking, citing their scalability. Our own experiences often contradicted those recommendations, though. Many older modules simply couldn’t tolerate the extra voltage needed to put them over the performance curve of mid-range parts running at standard voltages. Like any other step forward in technology, however, the low-voltage stuff is significantly improved today.

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LXO 8 GB Kit

Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical LP modules are among the recent generation of low-voltage RAM that survives the 1.5-1.6 V needed to overtake similarly-priced 1.65 V champions. Furthermore, the slightly lower overclocked voltage is also a little easier on our CPU's memory controller.

Speaking of its CPU-oriented advantages, the reduced height of these low-profile modules makes extra room for oversized heat sinks, too.

SSD: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

We like the performance and price-per-gigabyte of Mushkin’s 240 GB DX-series SSD, but dropping to 120 GB would have been necessary to make room for a conventional disk. After considering all of my somewhat-limited hard drive options, I gave in and kept the big SSD.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 240 GB MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

The 240 GB DX remains storage editor Andrew Ku’s top performance-value pick thanks to its SandForce controller, Toggle-mode NAND, and competitive price.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124

Dependability and price drove our optical drive selection, with the iHAS124’s 24x burn performance considered nothing more than an added feature. We might have even picked a read-only drive to load our software, if not for the fact that read-only drives cost nearly as much.

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124

At this price, the question of whether people still burn DVDs is little more than a diversion. Even though I can occasionally find 8 GB thumb drives for only a few dollars, I’m still more likely to pass around the cheaper DVD media to friends and family.

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