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Hard Drives And Accessories

System Builder Marathon, March 2010: $3,000 Extreme PC

System Drives: Two Crucial CT64M225 Solid-State Disks

With its faster program launch times and quicker response in certain games, we really wanted an SSD in this month’s system, despite the negative effect on our later performance-to-price assessment. A 128GB unit would be large enough for all our programs, but two 64GB units in a RAID controller’s Level 0 mode should provide even better transfer rates for around the same price. Our previous M225 review showed that Crucial’s performance ratings are realistic, so it took only a small leap of faith to purchase the yet-untested 64GB versions.

Read Customer Reviews of Crucial's CT64M225 64GB SSD

Cooler Master’s Cosmos S doesn’t have the two 2.5” drive bays needed to hold our pair of SSD drives, but that doesn’t bother us, since SNT’s sleek 2.5” hot-swappable backplane cost only $22.


Storage Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB

Most high-end users need far more than 128GB of storage, but the stuff that typically fills a drive doesn’t require super-fast access. An additional 1TB of space can usually accommodate dozens of movies, hundreds of songs, and thousands of photos simultaneously.

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

Western Digital’s Caviar Black was chosen primarily for its good performance, though we could have just as easily selected its more energy-efficient Green series counterpart and saved money at the same time.

We normally recommend at least two drives and RAID 1 for continuous backup of long-term storage, but feedback-based disagreement between our audience led us to leave that option up to individual owners. One thing that can be said for RAID 1 on Intel controllers is that, in the event of system failure, any surviving drive can be migrated to “single” mode on most other Intel-based motherboards through its Matrix Storage Manager software.

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