System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC


2.5" SSD to 3.5" Bay Adapter: SNT SNT-SATA2221B Hot-Swappable Backplane

We couldn’t think of a better device to hold two low-heat 2.5” SSD drives than a dual-bay hot-swappable backplane. For a low $22 price, the SNT-SATA2221B offers the conveniences of tray-less design and front-panel access while consuming only a single 3.5" external bay.

Read Customer Reviews of SNT's SATA2221B Backplane

This is actually a far better-designed unit than the one that appeared in our February SBM, as it requires no cable adapters and only a single power plug. The design is also cheaper to produce, though Newegg carries other brands of this product at up to twice its price.

For three-times its price, buyers could even find an upscale version with a single-data connection and built-in RAID controller. The RAID version was probably the original design from which this cheaper version is derived, but we decided to save our $44 and use motherboard RAID instead of an external controller.

3.5" to 5.25" Bay Adapter: Vantec EZ-Swap EX (Accessory-Only)

Our case doesn’t have a 3.5” external bay and the only 3.5” to 5.25” bay adapters at Newegg have a thumb groove for Epson-style floppy drives.

The solution, of course, is to buy the Ultra-ATA EZ-Swap EX, discard the unneeded bits, and use its less-expensive yet better-looking 3.5” to 5.25” bay adapter to hold our SNT backplane.

Component Cooling: Antec SpotCool

Motherboards are designed to use the draft from the CPU cooler to keep the voltage regulator and chipset northbridge cool, but that design puts liquid-cooled systems like ours at risk of instability. Instead of adding a big memory cooling fan and hoping the rear-panel exhaust would keep our motherboard cool enough, we picked a familiar part that can serve both needs.

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's SpotCool

A flexible wand allows Antec’s SpotCool to be aimed in nearly any direction, while a three-speed controller allows it to be set from 2,000 to 3,000 RPM. If that’s not enough to satisfy your purchasing demands, Antec went on to add four blue LED lights to this ultra-flexible $15 part.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • burnley14
    Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
  • jj463rd
    Me too this is an awesome build.
  • DjEaZy
    ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
  • The Quality of video on ATI streem is shit on sticks and doesn't even support high profile.

    The last build was a bit too odd for me but this one seems like a very nice chose of parts and on a larger screen set up makes a lot of sense the loss of i7 for AMD only build was a bit sad but the addition of those great SSD kind of makes up for me along with the nice chose of case and cooling. That case looks like it is very nice to work on.
  • dirtmountain
    The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
  • @Dirtman

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
  • one-shot
    Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
  • dirtmountain

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
  • dirtmountain
    So does Jonnyguru
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
    now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.