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

2.5" SSD to 3.5" Bay Adapter: SNT SNT-SATA2221B Hot-Swappable Backplane

We couldn’t think of a better device to hold two low-heat 2.5” SSD drives than a dual-bay hot-swappable backplane. For a low $22 price, the SNT-SATA2221B offers the conveniences of tray-less design and front-panel access while consuming only a single 3.5" external bay.

Read Customer Reviews of SNT's SATA2221B Backplane

This is actually a far better-designed unit than the one that appeared in our February SBM, as it requires no cable adapters and only a single power plug. The design is also cheaper to produce, though Newegg carries other brands of this product at up to twice its price.

For three-times its price, buyers could even find an upscale version with a single-data connection and built-in RAID controller. The RAID version was probably the original design from which this cheaper version is derived, but we decided to save our $44 and use motherboard RAID instead of an external controller.

3.5" to 5.25" Bay Adapter: Vantec EZ-Swap EX (Accessory-Only)

Our case doesn’t have a 3.5” external bay and the only 3.5” to 5.25” bay adapters at Newegg have a thumb groove for Epson-style floppy drives.

The solution, of course, is to buy the Ultra-ATA EZ-Swap EX, discard the unneeded bits, and use its less-expensive yet better-looking 3.5” to 5.25” bay adapter to hold our SNT backplane.

Component Cooling: Antec SpotCool

Motherboards are designed to use the draft from the CPU cooler to keep the voltage regulator and chipset northbridge cool, but that design puts liquid-cooled systems like ours at risk of instability. Instead of adding a big memory cooling fan and hoping the rear-panel exhaust would keep our motherboard cool enough, we picked a familiar part that can serve both needs.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's SpotCool

A flexible wand allows Antec’s SpotCool to be aimed in nearly any direction, while a three-speed controller allows it to be set from 2,000 to 3,000 RPM. If that’s not enough to satisfy your purchasing demands, Antec went on to add four blue LED lights to this ultra-flexible $15 part.

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