MEMORY: 8GB CORSAIR VENGEANCE CL9 DDR3-1600 RAM ($44.99)
Memory is dirt cheap these days, so you could easily push this boat out to 16GB without bankrupting yourself, but 8GB is sufficient for most tasks. Corsair is a memory maker we’ve used and trusted for a long time and its new Vengeance 8GB kit has proven to be as stable and reliable as the company’s reputation would lead you to expect. Points may be added or taken away for the macho look of the heat spreader, depending on your preference. A good alternative here is the G.Skill Ripjaws set of two 4GB DDR3-1600 sticks. By the way, don’t bother spending extra for faster memory (DDR3-1866) or tighter timings (CL8 or CL7). AnandTech performed a study recently that showed anything over DDR3-1333 was overkill for Sandy Bridge CPUs. We’ve opted for DDR3-1600 because it costs practically the same as the lower-specced stuff.
STORAGE: SAMSUNG 64GB SSD 830 ($94.99) +
WD CAVIAR BLUE 500GB 7200RPM HDD ($99.99)
Hard drives would be tracking a similar price trajectory to memory right now were it not for the floods that hit Thailand this year, so magnetic storage is atypically pricey. That being the case, we opted for a 500GB archival unit plus a 64GB solid state boot drive. The half-terabyte HDD is still the most cost-efficient way to obtain tons of storage, whereas the SSD is something we now consider a basic necessity in all new computers. Once you’ve booted up a PC from an SSD, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about — it’s a whole new world. To avoid bottlenecks, make sure to buy a SATA III drive. Our chosen Samsung 830 and the similarly priced OCZ Vertex 3 SSD both offer higher than 500MBps reading speeds, which wouldn’t be possible without the 6Gbps bandwidth of SATA III. As far as the HDD goes, when prices return to their usual levels, you should be able to grab a 1TB hard disk without spending much more than we’ve done here.
AMD AND NVIDIA ARE MATCHING EACH OTHER STRIDE FOR STRIDE RIGHT NOW
BIGGER FANS DON'T NEED TO SPIN AS QUICKLY, MAKING FOR A QUIETER PC
POWER SUPPLY: CORSAIR ENTHUSIAST SERIES CMPSU-650TX ($59.99)
Not the latest and greatest model, but in the world of power supplies, that doesn’t actually matter a great deal. What matters is that you’ll get plenty of power, delivered in a reliable fashion. This 650W Corsair unit is certified for 80 percent energy efficiency and comes with Japanese capacitors, which have become an industry byword for reliability. The 120mm fan is big enough to push air around the PSU without getting too noisy, though if you’ve got room in your budget, Corsair’s 750W and 850W Enthusiast Series come with 140mm fans. A nice extra that we couldn’t fit into our PSU budget was a modular design, wherein the cables connecting to the power supply can be disconnected if not in use. That helps cut down on the clutter inside your case, improving both its looks and ventilation.