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Graphics Card And Hard Drive

System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $650 Gaming PC
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Graphics Card: XFX HD-695X-ZNFC Radeon HD 6950 1 GB

Although they were readily available when we placed our order for this quarter's series, supplies of Radeon HD 6900-series cards quickly dried up in anticipation of the Radeon HD 7800s becoming available. The only Radeon HD 6950 we could find that'd fit in our budget was this reference-clocked 1 GB model from XFX.

Read Customer Reviews of XFX's HD-695X-ZNFX


Perhaps you noticed that XFX blocks off the rear slot ventilation with its brand insignia, though this is of little concern to us. Although this card looks like it exhausts out the I/O bracket, the axial fan really blows most of its air back into the chassis, placing greater cooling demands on the enclosure’s exhaust fans.

XFX chose to go light on accessories, leaving out 12 V power and display adapters. However, the company includes a bridge connector for CrossFire, a quick start manual, a driver disc, and a Do-Not-Disturb, I’m Gaming door tag.

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500 GB

The Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 offers 500GB of storage capacity, 7200 RPM spindle rotation, a SATA 6Gb/s interface, and 16MB of cache. Although prices have thankfully settled down over the past couple months, it is still hard to swallow this same model was just $40 when selected for the September 2011 $500 Gaming PC.

Read Customer Reviews of Seagate's ST500DM002 Hard Drive

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