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Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $1,300 Enthusiast PC

Memory: A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333G (PC3 10666) Model AX3U1333GB2G8-AG

Memory prices have gone up recently, and the best stuff we could find available for the price was A-Data's 4GB dual-channel kit. With 8-8-8-24 timings and a $92 price tag that can be reduced with a $10 mail-in rebate, this RAM will do the job.

Read Customer Reviews of A-Data's AX3U1333GB2G8-AG

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB w/32MB cache

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Caviar Black 640GB

A single drive is more cost-effective than a RAID setup, and a striped RAID array won’t offer a perceptible performance increase for the typical user. Of course, a redundant array is appealing for data protection, but it wouldn’t easily fit within our $1,300 price ceiling.

Once again, we went with the same Western Digital 640GB with 32MB of cache that we have chosen for months in this price range. At $75, this drive is a great choice with good speed and a good amount of space.

Optical Drive: OEM Samsung SH-S223C CD/DVD Burner SATA

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's SH-S223C

When we're pushing our budgetary limits, the optical drive we choose becomes cheaper. But that doesn't mean the quality has to suffer. We went with the cheapest drive we could find, an OEM Samsung model SH-S223C. For $27, the drive offers good 22x DVD+R write speeds and a 2MB cache.

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