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System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $1,000 Enthusiast PC

Memory, Hard Drives, And Optical Drive

Memory: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Kit

A lot of what we experiment with comes from your feedback, and comments in the forums suggest that the Tom's Hardware audience considers 8 GB of memory the minimum for a $1,000 build. You ask, we deliver. 

For a scant $50, Mushkin's 8 GB DDR3-1600 memory kit gives us the capacity you want, the data rate our processor can use, and low-enough timings to make us happy. Once again, this is the same RAM we used in last quarter's SBM, so we should be able to draw a fair comparison with it.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Enhanced Blackline 8 GB DDR3-1600 Kit

SSD: OCZ Agility 3 AGT-25SAT3-60G 60 GB

Read Customer Reviews of OCZ's Agility 3 60 GB SSD

Same story here. We chose OCZ's Agility 3 last time, so we're using it again this quarter.

This small boot drive is fast enough to accelerate the responsiveness of Windows and a couple of applications. We turn around and install games and benchmarks on a larger mechanical hard disk. At $65, it's a pretty cheap add-on, even though we're really starting to eye those 128 GB SSDs in the $100 range for the future.

Hard Drive: Hitachi GST Deskstar 7K1000.C 1 TB

Read Customer Reviews of Hitachis GST's Deskstar 1 TB Hard Drive

Hitachi's Deskstar offers 1 TB of storage, a 7200 RPM rotational speed, and 32 MB of data cache for $90. Although it only employs a 3 Gb/s SATA interface, you'll never see anything even close to a bottleneck from that specification. So, we're plenty satisfied with this drive as secondary storage for user data.

Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD-ROM

Read Customer Reviews of LG's GH24NS90

Optical drive prices seem to fluctuate frequently on Newegg. While LG's GH24NS90 was the cheapest model when we placed our order, the price is now at $19. Still, that's not bad, and our choice should serve as a solid solution for disc-based storage.