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CPU Cooling, Optical Drive, And Power

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $2500 Performance PC

CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X40

The BitFenix chassis housing this build’s hot and heavy graphics card has more than enough room for a big tower CPU cooler, and it could have even hosted a top-panel double-120 mm radiator if I was willing to sacrifice the optical drive bay. But I'm not ready to give up on optical media just yet, and I didn’t want the CPU cooler to be contaminated by hot air inside the case. NZXT’s Kraken X40 solves both of those problems by installing on the rear-panel, reversed.

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Kraken X40

Mounted in place of the case’s original 120 mm exhaust fan, the Kraken X40’s larger blower properly fills the case’s entire fan mount, minimizing the amount of air leaking around its sides. Using the fan as an intake assures that only the coolest air travels through its radiator. And combining the reversed airflow with front exhaust reduces the amount of graphics card heat retained by the case.

Optical Drive: Asus BW-14D1XT Blu-ray Writer

Many folks claim they never use optical media. But I don't like that word. It's much more likely that most of us rarely use it. And I'm not ready to accept compromises that require external drives or secondary PCs to make up for the loss of a disc drive in this do-it-all-and-do-it-well build.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' BW-14D1XT Blu-ray Writer

Doing it well should come easy to Asus’ latest drive, with an astounding 14x maximum write speed. Hard drive backups to BD-R? Media backups from Blu-ray? Both should be easily accomplished by this high-speed drive, in addition to the mundane DVD and CD tasks that, apparently, nobody needs any more.

Power: Seasonic SS-660XP2 Platinum

Seasonic’s 80 PLUS Platinum-rated 660 W power supply is an extravagance in this build for several reasons. First is its price, since this Platinum model costs $20 more than one of my favorite 750 W Gold-rated versions. I doubt that many people would be able to recover its added cost in power savings over the life of their PC, but it’s still an added feature.

Read Customer Reviews of Seasonic's SS-660XP2 Platinum

The unit’s rated capacity is also around 200 W beyond the expected peak power consumption of this build. On the other hand, excess capacity is never a bad thing, and I couldn’t find a top-quality unit below 600 W with dual eight-pin auxiliary power connectors.

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