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Audio And Optical

System Builder Marathon: The $5,000 Extreme PC

Audio: Asus SupremeFX X-Fi Riser Card

We had originally planned to use a separate audio card, but fluctuating prices for other components prevented us from installing our chosen card prior to testing. Imagine our surprise when, after we finished testing, the price of our system dropped by several hundred dollars. Yet we weren’t supremely disappointed about using the motherboard’s audio solution, as its SupremeFX X-Fi audio riser is more than adequate.

Had we known in advance that component prices would scale back prior to today’s article, our first choice for an audio solution would have been the Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 Deluxe.

Further examination of the card revealed that its ribbon cable would have restricted airflow to our graphics cards, so we’re just a little relieved that we didn’t use it. The Xonar Essence STX could have been a better choice since it doesn’t require the airflow-blocking ribbon cable and recent price drops for other components would now allow it to fit within our budget.

Optical: LG GGW-H20LK Blu-ray Burner

With adequate storage, a powerful processor, and a Blu-ray burner that also has HD-DVD read capabilities, it would be easy for anyone who made the “wrong bet” in the HD video wars to convert a collection to the “right” format. Anyone who didn’t make that mistake should still be able to appreciate the high performance and moderate price of LG’s part number GGW-H20LK multi-format BD-RE drive.

Read Customer Reviews of LG's GGW-H20LK Blu-ray Burner

BD-R writes of 6x exceed that of current availability blank media and BD-RE rewrites make backing up large amounts of data an easy, if somewhat slow, task. DVD writes of 16x on the other hand aren’t setting any speed records, but anyone truly annoyed by DVD-R speeds can cheaply add 22X-max DVD recording with a second drive.

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