I've been planning to buy a new rig now for a few months. I always planned on saving up and buying it all at once. Well that went out the window last night. I ended up finding a deal on a 7950 that I couldn't pass up. So now I figure I'll start buying parts as I can afford them and I might as well upgrade the parts that are weakest in my old system until I can complete a new one. I am looking for advice on what my weakest part is and what I should upgrade next.
i5-750 OC @ 3.6GHz Processor (I also have a seemingly stable 4.0GHz profile but I can't cool it, I won't let it get past 85C but it gets there within a few minutes of the stress test)
Asus P7P55D-E PRO Motherboard
Cooler Master 212 Heatsink
16GB GeiL DDR3 1600 RAM
3x 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7200RPM HDD
Gigabyte Windforce Radeon HD 7950 (Upgraded from Gigabyte HD 5850) Video Card
Cooler Master 750W PSU (unsure of exact model)
Cooler Master 690 Case
Future System (as long as I get it before Haswell)
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE Motherboard
Noctua L12 Heatsink
Low Profile 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz
256+ GB SATA III SSD
3+ TB HDD
Gigabyte Windforce Radeon HD 7950 (swapping the 5850 back into the current rig once this is completed)
SilverStone SG08 w/ 600W PSU
So what should I consider buying next? RAM so I can max my board out at 32GB for a while? SSD so I can boot up faster? I know Mobo, Processor and Case will have to all be bought together as none will improve my current rig without the other. I'm also not sure if the Noctua L12 will clear my RAM heat shields (although I could probably dremel them off).
You have plenty of RAM, a CPU that is still plenty fast, and a fairly high end GPU with the 7950. Other than adding a second 7950, or spending lots of money to go for a slightly higher end card, there isn't much that you can do to boost performance. If you really want to upgrade something on that older rig, I would say grab an SSD. They do really make your system more responsive and cut down your boot times. I recommend at least 120GB so you have some headroom to install games or larger programs if you want to. 60GB is manageable, but you will have to do more work to manage your space with a 60GB SSD.
16GB of RAM is pretty overkill for most uses, so unless you are doing some extreme rendering there is no point in upgrading the 32GB. I agree with Supernova that an SSD should be the next thing, as it'll make everything run a helluva lot quicker and their prices are still dropping steadily.
Furthermore you could get a better heatsink, however I must inform you that the L12 is a low profile cooler, so temps won't be much better (if at all) than a 212. You could look at some of their higher end models (space permitting) and they tend to have the option of mounting the fan about the RAM.
+1 you have more RAM than you need for gaming already. A SSD will imporove loading times only but is the most noticeable upgrade you will ever get but don't expect it to improve gaming except load times. Getting a pair of high CFM fans for the 212 will most likely improve cooling as much as a better air cooler. CPU & Mboard or another 7950 are the only things that will improve gaming performance and unless you are using more than 1 monitor you don't really need it.
a 250gig minimum ssd then you can use it for both boot and install. it really is pointless having an o.s boot in 2 seconds only to have to install everything else on a mechanical drive.
so get an ssd thats big enough to hold the o.s and any programs you want to use.