System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $2,000 Performance PC

Memory And Storage

System Memory: G.Skill Ares DDR3-1600 CAS 8

Memory overclocking usually has little effect on benchmark performance, so I prefer to spend most of my tuning time focused on the CPU and graphics subsystem. G.Skill’s Ripjaws memory gives me the consistency needed to shorten the overclocking process, along with good stock speed performance and a moderate price.

Read Customer Reviews of G.Skill's 8 GB Ares DDR3-1600 Memory Kit

A few builds ago, we discovered that the same modules used in G.Skill’s Ripjaws series are available with a shorter heat spreader under its Ares brand. The lower-profile heat spreaders allow a wider range of CPU coolers to be used, and we've never had an issue with overheating memory chips.

The company's F3-1600C8D-8GAB kit provides two 4 GB modules running at DDR3-1600 data rates and 8-8-8-24 rated latencies.

SSD: Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe 240 GB

Our storage editor continues to recommend Mushkin’s MKNSSDCR240GB-DX, making it an easy choice for this motherboard editor. In Andrew Ku’s words, “There are several 240 and 256 GB drives near the $160 price point, but we're choosing the Enhanced Chronos Deluxe because it sports Toggle-mode NAND, putting it at the top of our performance hierarchy chart.”

Read Customer Reviews of Mushkin's Enhanced Chronos Deluxe 240 GB SSD

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5 TB

Technology doesn’t progress very quickly in the mechanical storage market, which is where we go when we need somewhat-fast storage for very large files. Revealed as a top performer a mere four years ago, Seagate’s ST31500341AS found its way into this more modern build based on its price alone.

Read Customer Reviews of Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 1.5 TB Hard Drive

Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST BD-RE

Asus calls this the world’s fastest Blu-ray burner. But, at $80 including software, we call its BW-12B1ST a bargain.

We like having the ability to back up our entire hard drive on a handful of optical discs. And anyone who would like to transcode their Blu-ray movie collection for storage on a media server must first have an optical drive that can read it.

Read Customer Reviews of Asus' BW-12B1ST Blu-ray Burner

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  • Steveymoo
    I was getting ready to whine about power consumption with those AMD cards, but it looks like they're not so bad! I'd be interested to know how loud/whiny this system gets, and how it would perform with 2 gtx 680s instead.

    Also, I find it weird that those crossfire GPUs fall flat on their face at 2560 resolution in some games. Is there some kind of crossfire/gpu memory issue going on there?