New build, need some help, good $$$ to play with

Hi, first time poster, long time reader.

I plan on building a new machine, which i'm not new to, but lets just say i'm a bit behind on the newest technology. I've read as much as I can stomach over the last few weeks and still torn on a couple things, hoping you guys could shed some light.

Cash purse: I have 2500$'s (not set in stone) to spend on the best gaming machine I can build. I already have an X-fi sound card, so consider that covered. But everything else... =) hook a broda up.

I've read a lot about some new ATI stuff comin out in mid january, and i'm willing to wait till then if its worth it, something about the next gen vid cards x1900's? I do wish to stay with ATI, so please try to concentrate on that. I do wish to do crossfire as well of the best cards I can fit into my price. I also wish to go AMD this round, because frankly, I am not happy with the temperatures of my current prescott (not stock cooling either) nor am I going to give them anymore money for awhile. I may play around with overclocking, so I won't be going stock cooling.

Ok, now my questions in order of importance:

Motherboard. I've seen some reviews on new motherboards coming out in January where the crossfire w/ new drivers communicates through the PCI instead of with that extremely ghetto cable in the back =P. I would prefer that hehe. So my question is, what motherboard should I be keeping my eyes on?

Video Cards. Been looking at the x1800xt, but I figure if i'm going to throw down 1100$'s on video cards (2), I may as well wait for the new ones in January. What card should I keep my eyes on to pair up? And what brand? I read the one article on a break down of the different brands (sapphire and such). I'm very concerned about heat for these cards in general as i've had some bad luck with top end video cards. Also, just to check, requires a master card and then a crossfire compatible card correct?

Processor. <--- noob to what I should be going for in the AMD's. X2 or Opteron? Basically, I believe the X2 4600+ was what I wanted in my price range, but will an Opteron around the same price be better for me? Remember, solely a gamer. I never even considered an Opteron till I started reading here heh. Way to confuse me more!

Ram. I'm pretty happy with my current OCZ platinum ram, so I will probably stay with them and i'm looking at around 2 gigs of it (for now).

Hard Drive ya ya, raptor 10k is fine =P

Power Supply Given what i'm running so far, what type of PSU should I be looking for? Brand?

Cooling Any recommended "must by's" for cooling? I'm not interested in water cooling, air cooling is fine, but i'd also like to keep it pretty quiet.

Case Don't care all that much. It can be the size of my car so long as it runs cool. Don't really need so much help with this as the MB/Vid/Proc.

I've already picked out and priced a few systems so far, but i'd rather hear what you guys have to say before I start throwing out brands. Basically think of it for yourselves, what you would get for the $? I realize this is kind of long, so I appreciate those of you that took the time to read, and even more the ones that will reply ;).

So thanks again! I would like to purchase all my parts by the end of January, regardless of what is coming out after. So consider that pretty much the only limitation. OH, I have an LCD already that I absolutely love, so I don't need that either. $ is solely for the PC.
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  1. Well I am on my 8th system in 5 years now . . .always striving for better performance and more functions from my computer. Now it is a cutting edge gaming machine and also has multimedia ability. I dont agree with all the choices you made above but will give you my recommendations and reasons.

    Motherboard: DFI LanParty Expert . . Excellent motherboard in both quality of parts and performance. Go to a search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc) and read reviews of this motherboard. Jot down all the features and then compare against all other MB you see.

    CPU - AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400 these are great performers and dont require special cooling as they run a lot cooler than Pentiums . . Exotic and high performance: Opteron 165 . . suitable for overclocking but watercooling is recommended if overclocked.

    Memory: OCZ or Crucial - 2 MB set (2 x 1MB)

    Video cards: I have owned 4 ATI video cards and each one has had problems and challenges. ATI Rage 128, ATI A-I-W - problems with drivers and Win 98 also drivers conflicted with Sound Blaster Live 5.1 (problems never resolved), ATI A-I-W 8500 drivers and MMC failed to install or work properly first 5 months I owned it - ATI finally had a fixed driver, ATI A-I-W 9800 Pro . . constant driver problems . .board was maketed before drivers that worked were available. So I decided this time to not be a ATI guinea pig for their new and untested cards. I find Nvidia outperforms even the newest ATI cards and they are both cheaper and have been "field tested" for the past 6 months . . so there are no driver and or performance issues. I recommend XFX 7800GT. It can handle every new game at max resolution and details with high FPS.
  2. Correction: Memory: OCZ or Crucial - 2 MB set (2 x 1MB)

    Memory: OCZ or Crucial - 2 GB set (2 x 1GB)
  3. If you have that kind of money, go for dual core cpus. Right now, really not needed for gaming imo to make better, if want high res max settings, but its future may as well now.

    I agree with video card, XFX or eVGA 7800GT. XFX better OC out of box a little more noise. That WILL play games on high res and high fps, etc. I always been nvidia myself, and last card was geforce fx 5600. Very... not great, im personally getting a new rig myself and havent actually tried 7800 yet but gotten feedback here and reviewed greatly definitely worth extra cash.

    Anyways, good choices, blue has a good mobo I like ASUS too. remember PSU over 500w min for this. and get good quality. However im currently looking for a PSU thats golden, so no real reccs atm.
  4. Thanks for the replies.

    I do plan on sticking with ATI regardless, for their upcoming GPU in January tho and going Crossfire. Was moreso looking for information on that and what I should be looking for =).

    Furthermore, I don't plan on overclocking much, if any. Anything that the X2's can handle a decent non-stock air cooler is what i'll probably push it to. I read the Opteron 165 is actually the same as the 170 just a lower multiplier. So I may be leaning towards that if I end up going Opteron. I guess I don't fully understand the differences between the X2 series and the Opteron. Opteron seems to be cheaper for ~ the same speeds. Or maybe it was the other way around.
  5. I'm not up to date on crossfire boards yet (working on it...) so let us know what you get so I can add it to my impressions. :)

    Opterons come off a different assembly line than the Athlon64's, but are essentially (to us laypeople) the same CPU as a corresponding A64. Because they are the server/workstation chip and reliability is critically important they are tested more thoroughly than A64s are, so they usually run cooler with less voltage and can OC higher. The 165 is slower at stock speed than the X2 3800+, the 170 is equivelant to what would have been (but it was never produced) the X2 4000+, the 175 is equal to the X2 4400+, etc.

    If you don't plan on OCing, use the stock HSF and save a few $. Its good and quiet and you can OC it a fair amount (15% or so), though for high OCs you will want better cooling.

  6. Oh, great. I was wondering about that. I have nothing but bad luck when it comes to processor heat, even with non-stock fans (and yes i'm applying the thermal paste correctly). Tho i've been using the new p4's and haven't had an athlon in years.

    Funny how they switched places in regards to heat issues.
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