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Power Supply, Optical Drive, And Video Card

System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC
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Power Supply : Antec Neo Power 650W

We’ll admit there have been times we fell prey to the mantra that bigger is better, but when it comes to power supplies, there is such a thing as too big. As a result, we’re trying to do a better job of "right-sizing" this month’s selection.

We chose Antec’s Neo Power 650 W PSU because we thought it’d drive our Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 CPU and AMD Radeon 4870 X2 video card combo without a fuss. With 57 amps between the three 12 V rails, it should even handle the beast when it’s aggressively overclocked.

Almost as important, Newegg is currently running a special where this PSU is $90 when purchased in conjunction with an Antec case. Since we chose the Antec Three Hundred anyway, this takes quite a bit off of our bottom line and allows us to come in closer to the $1,200 mark. Of course, as Paul explained yesterday, the rebates and specials available through online vendors vary day to day, so your mileage may vary.

Optical Drive : LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04

For under $25, Lite-On’s iHAS120-04 drive offers the "AllWrite" capability. While this is just a fancy marketing term for the ability to write DVD+/-R(W), DVD-RAM, and Double Layer discs, it’s still appreciated.

Video Card : PowerColor Radeon HD 4870 X2

In the interest of maxing out gaming performance, we decided to bring out the big guns. We kept the rest of the system relatively inexpensive for a reason : when gaming is your goal, you can’t really skimp out on the graphics card. Thus, we went for the fastest and most expensive single graphics card available, AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2.

With two of AMD’s RV770 GPUs on one card, it’s quite a large board and it thankfully comes with a dual-slot cooler to force heated air out of the case. So, increased temperatures don’t pollute the rest of the system.

At $529, PowerColor’s entry into the Radeon HD 4870 X2 foray is priced on the low-end of the scale. And when you consider the $20 mail-in rebate currently offered, it’s the cheapest option we could find, so we gave PowerColor’s flavor of flagship a nod.

Most of the 4870 X2 cards on the lower end of the price spectrum stick pretty close to the reference 750 MHz specification and PowerColor’s card is no exception, but we hope it will be able to kick things up a notch with some overclocking.

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