System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,600 Alternative PC

Case, SSD, Hard Drive, And Optical Drive

Just Chasing After Some Finer Day…

Case: Fractal Design Define R4

We pick our own components, but those selections are subject to availability, just like they are for you in the real world. That explains why every Tahiti LE-based graphics card in our System Builder Marathon comes from PowerColor, and why I went with the windowed version of the award-winning Fractal Design Define R4.

Read Customer Reviews of Fractal Design's Define R4


Many readers love windows. But my goal was to achieve the optimal balance of quietness and cooling. The window on this chassis eliminates one of the noise-dampening mats we'd normally get in the non-windowed version. Fortunately, quiet fans and optimized vent placement mean that this Fractal Design case is still going to be pleasantly silent.

SSD: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR240GB-DX

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's 240 GB MKNSSDCR240GB-DX


The 240 GB Chronos Deluxe served as the sole drive in my $1,000 performance-oriented PC. But most folks also need a data drive, too. Our SSD will host the operating system and applications, while documents, music, and movies are stored elsewhere.

Hard Drive: Western Digital WD1002FAEX

Read Customer Reviews of Western Digital's WD1002FAEX Hard Drive


Western Digital’s Caviar Black 1 TB drive was an easy choice for me because it wasn't really mine. We've had a number of readers ask for Western Digital's Black-series drives for holding their user data, and of course we're willing to oblige.

This move became even easier when Western Digital updated its drive configuration from the former 32 MB cache and SATA 3Gb/s interface (FALS) to the current 64 MB, SATA 6Gb/s (FAEX) version.

Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' DRW-24B1ST


I have low expectations of DVD writers; I only want to believe that on the rare occasion I use mine, it’s going to work. Asus’ DRW-24B1ST gets top ratings from Newegg customers, I’ve never experienced a failed Asus drive, and this unit even gives us the bonus of 24x writes.