Memory: 2x1GB Corsair XMS2-6400 w/ DHX (TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX)
Current Cost: $110
Consecutive Guides: 2
Price Change: -$70
For a high-end 32-bit gaming system, 2x1-GB of DDR2-800 is still the optimum target, which is made easier since the price of most DDR2 modules and dual channel kits is falling. These lower prices cut across virtually all DDR2 sizes and speeds, presenting several potential opportunities. Although the option of upgrading to DDR2-1066 or higher speeds was available, there is no overriding need to move from dual-channel DDR2-800. When coupled with the significantly lower prices, we were able to maintain our 2GB of name brand DDR2 memory, while using the savings to upgrade other areas.
Corsair XMS2-6400 w/ DHX TwinX memory offers the same low 4-4-4-12 timings at 800 MHz of the standard Corsair XMS2-6400C4 memory, but with the addition of DHX, or Dual-path Heat eXchange, cooling technology. This utilizes a two-piece, dual-contact method of attaching the heatsinks to the memory chips and PCB, while offering a fin-based design to further aid heat dissipation. Temperatures, especially with high-speed DDR2, are noticeably lower with this design, and since we're not losing anything on the timings side, it's a win-win situation.
The Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX dual channel kit features two 1-GB sticks of high-speed, low latency PC2-6400/DDR2-800 memory, and can be purchased for approximately $110 through online vendors (lower with potential rebate). A matched pair/dual channel kit is the de facto format for both our AMD and Intel platforms, and a kit like this is a guaranteed match in dual channel mode, and provides a noticeable performance boost compared to a single DDR2 module. The best value still resides in the 2x1-GB range, especially as no 32-bit operating system will make full use of a 4GB configuration.
* Although we do not take this into account in our above pricing, some vendors (including Newegg and ZipZoomFly) are offering a $40 mail-in-rebate on purchases until September 30, making this an even better deal.
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB SATA 3.0 Gb/sec.
Current Cost: $200
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A
Hard drive prices have really been dropping, and combined with the debut of some new, higher capacity models, it makes for a very interesting time in this market. The very latest Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB models continue to be a prime target, but the retail price is still a bit too high. Our concession in the last guide was to use dual 500GB Seagate drives, but this also proved to be a bit too much for our budget, and we have moved to a single 750GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard drive. This is one of the best single-drive performance options in the high-end market, and at only $200, we were able to make the budget numbers work.
The Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB drive includes a 16MB data cache, 7200-RPM motor, supports both SATA 3.0 Gb/sec. and NCQ, and has an 8.5 ms average seek time. This model also supports Perpendicular Recording Technology, which increases the storage density of each platter. The Barracuda line is renowned for speed and quality, and Seagate is the top choice for the quietest and longest lasting hard drives money can buy. Seagate is also confident enough to back their products with an excellent 5-year warranty, and our own luck with their products has been exceptional.
DVD-/+RW: Samsung SH-S203B 20X SATA DVD Writer
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A
The initial wave of HD-DVD and Blu-ray format drives continue their slow advance, but prices remain extremely high, so we're going with a standard DVD+/-R/RW drive. Retail prices on these units are also at historical lows, so it's a great time to take advantage of these super values. We are making an upgrade in this area as well, and moving to the SATA camp with the Samsung SH-S203B. This is a very popular model for new systems, and when all the storage drives are SATA, it just simplifies things.
This is a low-cost DVD writer that combines the Samsung brand name with ultra-high write speeds for CD and DVD media. The Samsung SH-S203B offers writing speeds of 20X DVD+/-R, 12X DVD+/-R Dual-Layer media, 8X DVD+RW, 6X DVD-RW, 48X CD-R, and 32X CD-RW. The Samsung drive also has support for DVD-RAM technology, and can read and write it at 12X speeds.