Upgrade Itch - Zacate On My Mind (Part II)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Okay, after giving it some thought I've decided to come up with a more budget-friendly edition of my first proposal. I'm still going with Mini-ITX though, but this build won't cost as much as the first one. Let's get to it.

MI-008 Tower Black P4 Chassis with 250W Itx Psu+sata Power SupplyApex MI-008 ITX Case - Granted this case is bigger than the Antec ISK-100. And it does have a bigger internal power supply. In ITX terms 250 watts is overkill. But it does cost cheaper. The Apex MI-008 is two-thirds the cost of the ISK-100. When you consider that it can accommodate a desktop-sized internal hard drive and DVD drive, the savings increment up. With the added wiggle room, you can also add a PCI Express card. Well, assuming it's got a low enough passive heatsink. So going with the Apex MI-008 does add up the savings when you consider the bottom line.

ASRock E350M1 - Motherboard - mini ITX - AMD Fusion E-350 - AMD A50M - Gigabit Ethernet - onboard graphics - HD Audio (8-channel)Asrock E350M1/USB3Asrock has been around for a few years and is known to geeks as Asus' budget brand. If you want bang for the buck, Asrock is the way to go. You do have to wait around for Asus to introduce new features in its flagship brand before it trickles down to Asrock motherboards, but the wait isn't all that long. Give props to stiff competition. Features trickle down in 3-5 months after a mid to high-end board is released by Asus. So going back to the Asrock E350M1/USB3, it features the same trio of new tech I'm looking for in an upgrade: DDR3, SATA 6 GB/s and USB 3.0. It has solid capacitors, just like the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3.  It also features Xfast USB, a technology that's supposed to increase the speed of both USB 2.0 and 3.0. You can connect your displays using the onboard VGA, DVI and HDMI. An eSATA port is thrown in there for good measure as well. This is prime kit for the money, folks.

Kingston Technology HyperX Blu 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX4GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX - As with my first build, I am going with Kingston. This time around, I would have a little more to spend after choosing a cheaper Mini-ITX case. HyperX is Kingston's premium line. In  recent years, this line of premium products has expanded to meet every budget. So much so that they now have the Blu (entry-level), Genesis (mid), T1 (extreme enthusiast), LoVo (premium, low-voltage) and the H20 (extreme gaming). I'm picking the Blu with slim heat spreaders and better-than-average performance over most budget RAM. It goes perfectly with the small case.

Seagate Barracuda 2.0 TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive for PC and Mac ST320005N1A1AS-RK - Retail Kit2 TB Seagate Barracuda XT - Seagate has been my preference for drives ever since I started building. I can only talk of my personal experience when  I say that I never had one fail on me. So I trust this brand more than the other brands I've tried. They weren't joking about the Hitachi 'Deathstar', let me tell you. I've had 2 Maxtors fail on me as well. I haven't tried WD yet, so I'll just say I'm keeping an open mind about them. For storage though, you really need to go with at least half of the largest available in the market. I filled up my current 500GB 7200.11 in just a little over a year. Yes, I know the reviews say the 7200.11 is a clunker that breaks down easily, but I've had one  for 2 years and it's still working. 500 GB is a bit constricted, especially if you are a data pack rat like me. I'm actually just barely getting by, deleting files by the folder when I reach a critical point. So yeah, if you plan on using your drive for a couple of years at least, you need a 2 TB drive.

LiteOn iHAS524 - Disk drive - DVD?RW (?R DL) / DVD-RAM - 24x/24x/12x - Serial ATA - internal - 5.25" - LabelTag24X LiteOn DVD Writer - It's LiteOn, it's cheap, it's fast and it's a brand I trust. I've said it once, I'll say it again. This is definitely a bang-for-the-buck drive for your basic burning needs. Plus, this particuar LiteOn model has Labeltag, a burning features that burns a label on the write side of the disk. Well, it does look like a gimmick, I admit. But I would prefer this over having Lightscribe because with Lightscribe you conditon can only use specific media that costs more than your usual blank DVD's. Lightsribed labels also fade in certain storage conditions, like using the wrong disc sleeves. With Labeltag, I can use my favorite Taiyo Yuden's without hesitation.

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