This is going to be my first build. I've researched this to death, but just want to make sure that the below system is compatible and sound. My budget is around $800-900, so that's why I've chosen a few less than top-of-the-line components. I start med school next fall, so I went w/ AM2 because of better upgrade-ability in the long run (won't be able to afford a complete new system for at least 4 years). Also, I've chosen components that will perform well enough for what I need to do: some gaming (CS:S, HL2, BF2, BF2142) and mainly school work (some light vid/photo/DVD/audio stuff). I've checked memory, power source, etc. compatibility with manufacturer's recommendations. System:
If you look to SLI as a future thought.
Whatever video card you buy know x2 in a year will be lesser than a DX 10 card then. So would you pay $100(if you can find the same card) or $300 for a brand new DX 10 card then.
I only think SLI is worth it for really high end stuff.
If your looking at an athlon 3800 not even a 4200 I'm guessing your not high-end.
By the time you do go SLI it won't be worth it to buy another card because they'll both be outdated.
There very well might be some more models, but those are of the more common.
Though Antec is a reliable brand, the SmartPower is a budget-line PSU and may perform as such. Fortunately, you'll have a warranty through Antec (replacements) and a temporary one through Newegg (on returns/exchanges). However, PSU failures have been known to take other components along with them. It's a component worth investing the extra dollar in.
I'd recommend the Seagate Barracuda 320GB as a hard-drive option (Link). It's large enough that you won't find yourself picking through ancient files trying to clear up space so you can install an application, or save your photos to your HDD. It's also fast and reliable (beats even the WD 10k Raptor in some benchmarks). I have the hard-drive myself (see sig) and it's great. The extra space gives me room to breathe especially as video/photo editing has become one of my hobbies.
Since you're on a budget, I suppose 1GB of RAM will suffice ... and seeing as DDR2 prices have shot through the roof as of late, it's probably wiser to wait on anything beyond 1GB while remaining budget-conscious. Lower latencies will aid the AMD scene moreso than the Intel. So if the Corsair RAM you've picked out is the Cas 5 (5-5-5-15) pair, you may want to consider the Cas 4 (4-4-4-12) pair (Link). It is 40+ more expensive than the Cas 5 pair ... so I'd once again advise you to buy within your budget. The Cas 5 will work fine (however slower).
Regarding the Operating System, you might be able to get a nice discount through your school. I know the $400+ Microsoft Office Suite is only $25 through my school's IT department.
I agree with Will14 concerning the SLI option. It's definitely not something a budget buyer should consider, and the SLI configuration itself certainly doesn't yield the performance that the price might infer. SLI shines in high resolution settings, and with paired high end cards. A single 7900GT will out-do 7600GT's in SLI -- or so I've read (please correct me if i'm wrong on this).
As a single solution, the video card you picked out is very nice.
The CPU is great (dual core is a plus!). The memory is definitely of a quality brand (dual channel is a plus!). Mobo is of a quality brand, but is "iffy" concerning the SLI feature. You could probably save a few bucks and buy a non-SLI mobo. Already covered the HDD. Already covered the PSU.
This is my first build but I'm not retarded..haha--I have an OS and a case..hah.
I guess my idea w/ the SLI was: will SLI be the standard in years to come? I don't want to be in a position 3 years from now, where SLI is the standard for games, yet I have no upgrade pathway except to buy a new motherboard. Is that the case? If not, then I think I will look for a non-SLI board.
I second the Artic Sonata II case with 450W PSU, its only $100 (with shipping) on newegg right now.
I think the 7600GT is a very nice card in that price range.
If youre planning on overclocking (and even if you wouldnt) the Epox EP-MF570SLI PWNS the Asus in every single aspect. I know it isnt a very recognized brand but its the one that overclocks the best in that price range.
The 3800+ seems to reach 2.7Ghz on stock cooling, but yould need a nice board for that =]
You dont need to go with Corsair, since youre in a budget get ANY brand of DDR2 667 with 4-4-4-12 timings, these tells you that its using the same Micron chips as Corsair and therefore will give you broadly the same performance. This type of memory should overclock to ~800 CL5.
Dont worry about the HHD because on a budget space should be more important than speed and Western Digital is a very well knowed excellent brand for HDDs.
You might wanna get the OS from a "different" source to save up some money lol