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System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $1200 Enthusiast PC

Memory, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

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

Mushkin's Enhanced Redline dual-channel kit boasts 7-8-7-24 1T timings at a 1600 MT/s data rate, and it’s an excellent value at the $40 price point. This product was recently deactivated from Newegg, but you can get the Mushkin Blackline kit 996782 with the same specifications and price.

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Enhanced Redline 4 GB DDR3-1600 Kit

SSD: OCZ Vertex Plus OCZSSD2-1VTXPL60G 2.5" 60 GB

Read Customer Reviews of OCZ's Vertex Plus 60 GB

Flash-based storage weren't affected by the same flooding catastrophe in Thailand that is impacting conventional hard drives, and OCZ’s Vertex Plus 60 GB SSD is an affordable product (even if its user reviews scare us a little) with enough space to serve as a boot drive.

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Caviar Black 750 GB

At $180, the price of this hard disk has tripled since we last used it in our System Builder Marathon, and this component is solely responsible for the cost overage on our $1200 budget. Nevertheless, it’s one of the best-performing hard drives available, so we're sticking with it.

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner

Read Customer Reviews of Lite-On's iHAS124-04 DVD Burner

For $22, Lite-On’s iHAS124-04 has a 2 MB buffer and a 24x DVD write speed. You might not get any frills with this OEM product, but you aren't asked to pay for any, either.