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Storage

System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC
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Main Drives: Two Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, Striped

Many readers demand SSD storage in our $2,500 machine and Intel still makes some of the fastest models. Unfortunately, its improved Generation 2 devices were still unavailable when the time came to place our order.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB SSD


For around the same price as a single 160GB version, two Intel X25-M model SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB units allow us to take advantage of the AMD SB750 RAID controller’s Level 0 capability. We used these two drives exclusively for the operating system and installed programs, understanding that the combined 160GB space wouldn't satisfy the long-term storage needs of most users.

Given our focus on AMD for graphics and processing, choosing Intel SSD models may seem a slap in the face to the former flash-memory company that spun off its previous core business only to watch the new firm file bankruptcy. In that regard, blue crystal appears to work a little better than green for producing future-predicting orbs.

Storage Drives: Two Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB, Mirrored

A terabyte is probably enough storage space for most users and having an exact copy of the primary storage drive on a second drive is cheap insurance against a single drive failure. Western Digital’s model WD1001FALS hard drives provide the performance for which its Black series is well-known, while the SB750’s RAID 1 capability keeps everything safe.

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Caviar Black 1TB


RAID 1 adds neither capacity nor performance. We’re sure some lower-budget buyers will be angered by our use of two 1TB drives to achieve only a single terabyte of capacity, but we can’t find a good reason why anyone who spends $2,500 on a system should be forced to spend even more to add an external backup solution.

Optical Drive: LG GGW-H20L BD-RE/DVD±RW/HD-DVD Combo

We know what it feels like to get in on the wrong format, but LG’s GGW-H20L can rescue you from such embarrassment by allowing HD-DVDs to be copied to Blu-ray discs. That is, assuming that you believe such a conversion is covered by fair use and you don’t plan to sell or give away any backup copies.

Read Customer Reviews of LG's GGW-H20L


The rest of us who don’t own any HD-DVD movies will instead focus on the drive’s high performance and relative low-price, with BD-R burns of 6x available for only $180. On the other hand, BD-RE writes of 2x and DVD±R writes of 16x are average for the class.

Display all 100 comments.
Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    burnley14 , September 28, 2009 6:14 AM
    Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
  • 10 Hide
    WINTERLORD , September 28, 2009 6:43 AM
    now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    burnley14 , September 28, 2009 6:14 AM
    Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
  • 8 Hide
    jj463rd , September 28, 2009 6:17 AM
    Me too this is an awesome build.
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , September 28, 2009 6:23 AM
    ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , September 28, 2009 6:30 AM
    The Quality of video on ATI streem is shit on sticks and doesn't even support high profile.

    The last build was a bit too odd for me but this one seems like a very nice chose of parts and on a larger screen set up makes a lot of sense the loss of i7 for AMD only build was a bit sad but the addition of those great SSD kind of makes up for me along with the nice chose of case and cooling. That case looks like it is very nice to work on.
  • -4 Hide
    dirtmountain , September 28, 2009 6:31 AM
    The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 28, 2009 6:37 AM
    @Dirtman

    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_detail.aspx?id=25&type=2

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
  • -9 Hide
    one-shot , September 28, 2009 6:39 AM
    Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
  • 0 Hide
    dirtmountain , September 28, 2009 6:40 AM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
  • 0 Hide
    dirtmountain , September 28, 2009 6:42 AM
    So does Jonnyguru
    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story2&reid=153
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
  • 10 Hide
    WINTERLORD , September 28, 2009 6:43 AM
    now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.
  • 0 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 28, 2009 6:44 AM
    dirtmountainhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139011Newegg says differently. I did check sources.

    You going to believe newegg a site that is known to make mistakes in labeling products over the actual official site of the group that freaking does the testing and certification
    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_detail.aspx?id=25&type=2

    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_reports/CORSAIR_CMPSU-850HX_ECOS%201464_850W_Report.pdf

    It's gold...
  • 2 Hide
    eddieroolz , September 28, 2009 6:44 AM
    The overclock was disappointing, but it seems to be one capable system!

    Anyone who wins this has an awesome rig on their hands!
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , September 28, 2009 6:46 AM
    I'm sure anyone that wins any of the rigs will be quite happy and hopefully happy enough to post pictures and other things on the forums.
  • 2 Hide
    Proximon , September 28, 2009 6:55 AM
    Your PSU calculations do not include transient loads, which happen too quickly to measure on a Kill-a-watt. 1000HX was the better choice.

    Either water cool the GPUs or use a case with better air flow. Perhaps 90C is within spec (although I'm not aware of any published official max temps for 4890s)but it doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

    What's with the limited choice for a case anyway? You seem to want to experiment? CM Storm Scout has handles, or Lian Li Lancool has great air cooling and radiator hose grommets.

    I did like the inclusion of the Swiftech kit.

  • 0 Hide
    one-shot , September 28, 2009 6:58 AM
    Corsair says it's Silver

    http://www.corsair.com/products/hx850/default.aspx

    So...I guess it's really Gold?

    (sarcasm)
  • 3 Hide
    tipmen , September 28, 2009 7:01 AM
    I only fear what a QuadFire 5870 would bring if a tri 4890s does this much damage. Thanks for doing AMD it may not be the best CPU but its always nice to see a change.
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , September 28, 2009 7:15 AM
    dirtmountainSo does Jonnyguruhttp://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.p [...] 2&reid=153I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.


    80 plus is an independant rating site, the 850HX was upgraded to Gold status so unless you're using an old unit you should be fine.

    ProximonWhat's with the limited choice for a case anyway? You seem to want to experiment? CM Storm Scout has handles, or Lian Li Lancool has great air cooling and radiator hose grommets.I did like the inclusion of the Swiftech kit.


    This editor never uses external radiators because they're too easily damaged, ugly, and make transportation difficult. The only choice not mentioned was the HAF932: There's one in the lab, it's enormous and cheaply built.

    Also, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the ventilation of the case used. It's remarkable. It's darned near perfect. The GPU's run hot for two reasons: HD 4890's are horribly inefficient and there's not much space between them.

    The other option would have been to face the PSU fan towards the cards so it could draw warm air away from them.
  • 0 Hide
    WINTERLORD , September 28, 2009 7:40 AM
    this thing is truely alswome anyway you slice it. eye candy galore, and im sure anyone who won this thing would be more then happy. and what makes this beast realy shine is how much performance it gets not only in gaming but alswome productivity/ap[plication scores as well. all the way around it is alswome. also very interesting to see AMD parts stacking up like this in a high end gaming. very interesting.
  • 2 Hide
    masterjaw , September 28, 2009 7:49 AM
    "Happy birthday", "Happy Halloween", "Merry Christmas", and "Happy New Year" to the lucky one who would get his hands on this one.
  • 1 Hide
    anamaniac , September 28, 2009 8:05 AM
    Wow...
    I would take this over your last $2,500 Intel system no doubt!
    This thing is a work of art.

    Excellent work.
    Wait wait wait... why would I want a phenom when i have a i7? I don't know, but this system is that cool.

    I love the case used on it too. Tri-4890, 2x80GB SSD etc. even on a 2.5k budget is admirable.
    Making me wonder were all the money on my build went...

    Also nice to see a cheap motherboard being promoted. I paid over $300 for my mobo, and I regret it (good overclocking mobo... crappy overclocker cpu). >_<


    Keep up the good work.
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