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

Storage

Main Drives: Two Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, Striped

Many readers demand SSD storage in our $2,500 machine and Intel still makes some of the fastest models. Unfortunately, its improved Generation 2 devices were still unavailable when the time came to place our order.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel's SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB SSD

For around the same price as a single 160GB version, two Intel X25-M model SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB units allow us to take advantage of the AMD SB750 RAID controller’s Level 0 capability. We used these two drives exclusively for the operating system and installed programs, understanding that the combined 160GB space wouldn't satisfy the long-term storage needs of most users.

Given our focus on AMD for graphics and processing, choosing Intel SSD models may seem a slap in the face to the former flash-memory company that spun off its previous core business only to watch the new firm file bankruptcy. In that regard, blue crystal appears to work a little better than green for producing future-predicting orbs.

Storage Drives: Two Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB, Mirrored

A terabyte is probably enough storage space for most users and having an exact copy of the primary storage drive on a second drive is cheap insurance against a single drive failure. Western Digital’s model WD1001FALS hard drives provide the performance for which its Black series is well-known, while the SB750’s RAID 1 capability keeps everything safe.

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's Caviar Black 1TB

RAID 1 adds neither capacity nor performance. We’re sure some lower-budget buyers will be angered by our use of two 1TB drives to achieve only a single terabyte of capacity, but we can’t find a good reason why anyone who spends $2,500 on a system should be forced to spend even more to add an external backup solution.

Optical Drive: LG GGW-H20L BD-RE/DVD±RW/HD-DVD Combo

We know what it feels like to get in on the wrong format, but LG’s GGW-H20L can rescue you from such embarrassment by allowing HD-DVDs to be copied to Blu-ray discs. That is, assuming that you believe such a conversion is covered by fair use and you don’t plan to sell or give away any backup copies.

Read Customer Reviews of LG's GGW-H20L

The rest of us who don’t own any HD-DVD movies will instead focus on the drive’s high performance and relative low-price, with BD-R burns of 6x available for only $180. On the other hand, BD-RE writes of 2x and DVD±R writes of 16x are average for the class.

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.
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    Me too this is an awesome build.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
    Reply
  • @Dirtman

    http://www.80plus.org/manu/psu/psu_detail.aspx?id=25&type=2

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
    Reply
  • one-shot
    Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    So does Jonnyguru
    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story2&reid=153
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
    Reply
  • WINTERLORD
    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.
    Reply