Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in


System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC

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.

React To This Article