Now that you’ve selected memory, it’s time for an SSD and HDD. Beginning with entry level, an Intel 730 240GB SSD ($110 US) looks good and performs well as an OS drive. The 480GB model is just $100 more. Further up the high performance scale, the Samsung 840 Pro 512GB ($300) is a very good performance SSD popular among work station users. If cost isn’t holding you back, we found the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB for $400. That’s a palpable cost in our book.
Rather than take up all the space on your SSD, we recommend a good 1TB or 2TB platter drive. The Seagate Barracuda 2TB hard drive can be found for an impressively low $80 US. It won’t improve system performance like an SSD, but it makes a great backup or primary storage drive.
There are so many great computer cases to choose from that it simply makes sense to recommend something that offers cooling fans, toolless drive bays, high quality materials and a good design theme. Don’t settle for anything less.
Beginning with full towers for this portion of our gift guide, the Thermaltake Urban T81 ($169 US) is a very clean design offering multiple dual and triple radiator cooling, but it is also completely modular inside which is great for all kinds of space for mods. For more artistic curves as well as similar cooling potential, the NZXT Phantom, Phantom 530 or Phantom 630 ($120-$150) continue to hold the award in that area.
Moving to mid-towers, the NZXT H440 ($110) looks contemporary but eliminates front 5.25 or floppy bays. It’s very easy on the eyes, plus it shows off your system nicely. The Thermaltake V51 ($110) follows a close second for a more contemporary theme. However, if you have a bit more to spend and looking for something to create discussion, there are two enclosures that leap to mind: the In Win 904 Plus ($199) which is a favorite among many professionals and D-Frame that will impress gamers and enthusiasts alike.
We recommend only purchasing trusted 80Plus certified power supplies, no matter what you’re building. They conserve more power. Some trusted brands include Corsair, be quiet!, NZXT, Thermaltake, Rosewill and Seasonic. Whether you want small and efficient or big, bad and powerful, they’ve got you covered. Here are a few good ones.
Moving to power, some of the most affordable 80Plus Bronze include the NZXT HALE82 V2 700 ($80 US) modular power supply for a reasonable price and it’s painted white. The next impressive step up is Corsair’s HX Series HX750 80Plus Gold ($130) modular PSU which is essentially also Seasonic at heart. The HX is a work horse favorite among professionals and enthusiasts pushing high end systems.
One of the higher end units to resist our laboratory beatings is the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850 80Plus Gold ($240 US) and it continues to be a very resilient modular power source. The fan cabling is an especially nice touch for DIY enthusiasts. The Thermaltake ToughPower Grand 850W is also an impressive choice in the $129 range. We’re still running a 1000 W model since the week it launched without issue.