After looking at the various hard drives on the market, it became obvious that it was pretty hard to beat Western Digital's WD Caviar Green series of hard drives. I chose model WD10EADS, which provides a terabyte of capacity for $120 or less. The unit offers a 3.0GB/s SATA interface and 32MB of cache, making it speedy enough for high-demand applications. The WD drive is also very quiet, uses very little power and doesn't generate a lot of heat -- all factors that help to create a reliable and quiet PC.
For most users, a generic internal DVD/CD burner would probably be adequate, but the goal of this project is to build a PC that can leverage Windows 7 to its fullest extent. That means it needs to be able to handle all of the common types of optical media -- CD/CD RW, DVD/DVD RW -- and take advantage of the CPU and motherboard's ability to process high-definition (HD) content, which translates to supporting Blu-ray media.
I chose an LG Super-Multi Blu-ray Rewriter (model GGC-H20L), which costs around $125. While that may be steep for an optical drive, the GGC-H20L can read Blu-ray discs as well as HD DVD discs. The drive also reads and writes to all of the popular DVD and CD formats, uses a SATA interface and features LiteScribe technology, which allows users to burn labels directly onto CDs.
Choosing a power supply was a relatively straightforward task. Using common "green" guidelines to narrow down the field, I looked for a power supply unit that complies with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive and features 80 PLUS certification for energy efficiency. I also wanted a unit that would generate very little noise and could provide enough power for the addition of components down the road.
I decided on a 750-watt Corsair TX750W, which goes for about $120. The TX750W proved to be very quiet and has integrated cable management, which makes routing power cables simple -- all of the cables are removable and system builders need only attach the required cables for a system.
With all of the components selected, it was time to consider a case. There are dozens of case manufacturers and hundreds of cases to choose from. To thin the herd, I looked for a full-size case that met a few specific needs: it had to be attractive, it had to be easy to assemble and access, it had to have good airflow to keep components cool, and finally it had to reduce noise.
I selected the Antec Nine Hundred Two, which costs about $130. While there are cases that cost less than half the price, it's hard to beat the expansion options offered by the Antec case. The case has room for several hard drives and several optical drives, and it's very easy to disassemble to add new components.
Assembling the system took about 35 minutes. After adding a keyboard, mouse and monitor, I installed the Release Candidate version of Windows 7, which took another 15 minutes or so.