DRAM, SSD, HDD, And ODD
System RAM: Mushkin Enhanced 993988S
Looking for a great price on a 16 GB quad-channel kit? After spending over half my budget on the CPU and graphics cards, I sure was. Mushkin’s Stealth DDR3-1600 CAS 9 appeared to fit the bill.
Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Enhanced 993988S
Rated at 1.35 V, I’m hoping that a little extra voltage will go a long way towards my overclocking goals.
SSD: Mushkin MKNSSDCR240GB-DX
A far lower price once again made Mushkin’s 240 GB DX-series the top pick over Samsung’s similarly-sized 840 Pro.
Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's MKNSSDCR240GB-DX
Were I to choose an SSD today, recent price breaks for Samsung’s 250 GB EVO could have put it into this system. My consolation is that, for an extra $10, the EVO barely outpaces competing SandForce-based drives.
HDD: WD WD30EZRS
Read Customer Reviews of WD's WD30EZRS
Western Digital’s Caviar Green drives are designed for economy, which allowed me to choose a model with 3 TB of capacity. Though the 5400 RPM spindle speed also reduces power consumption, currency is the green that I’m hoping to save.
BD-RE: Pioneer BDR-2208
Read Customer Reviews of Pioneer's BDR-2208
I usually add optical drives for convenience, and one of the conveniences that I appreciate most is optical media backup to a hard drive. Writing BD-R at rates up to 15x is another benefit for Pioneer’s moderately-priced BDR-2208, even if I do rarely use it. The retail box also includes CyberLink Media Suite 8.
On the other hand, Paul's single GPU was OK with 2GB. I figured we'd need a jump to 4GB with 3-way on his GPU, but 3GB on the 7970 probably would have been enough. Also, a total difference of $60 still would have fit within the budget limit, so, maybe Ivy-Bridge E and Radeons for the next build?
In order to prove what you're saying, I would have needed to search for worse-performing overpriced parts. You'll see on Day 4 that this build has the best performance of the three. So this build actually doesn't prove anything, except maybe that six core processors boost six-core benchmarks and that more graphics power gives you better frame rates at 5760x1080 (etc). But we didn't actually need any proof for those things, did we?
Tom, the future builds need to have better budget tiers. The doubling of the funds in each tier is fine in certain cases but it doesn't provide real insight into hardware choices. Having the tiers with a fixed figure increase such as a $250-400 increase in budget per tier would make more sense. Also, I would love to see the comeback of the $500 budget builds.
Lastly, what happen to the idea of themes each quarter?