I have never built a system before, but i'd like to try since I need to replace aging and I believe I can get a lot more for my money this way (P4 3.06, 1g rdram, 9700 pro system).
I will use the system primarily for gaming and want to run all the latest games with all the bells and whistles on, etc. I want it to be to some extent future proof. CPU will be for some everyday use as well. Assuming all goes well with the build, I hope to overclock it somewhat, say in the 3.2 range.
My intial thoughts on the build were:
Coolermaster CM Stacker 830
E6700 (most people here seem to think the E6600 is as good but cheaper, so I will probably go with that).
EVGA Nforce 680sli
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB DDR 800
2 WD Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s OEM
Cooler Master Real Power Pro 850
1 EVGA GTX 8800
Zalman 9500 (most here say the Tuniq Tower 120 is better, so I'l probably go with that.
TBD DVD/CD Drive
Maybe a multi card reader
As for the case, I know I'm spending quite a bit, but since this is the first rig I've ever built I kinda want to get a really nice case and I like the CM Stacker. My second choice would be a thermatake armour. However, I've read that the longer power supplies don't fit. More on that below. In general, I want a case that will last me a long time, perform well and isn't going to need any modification that requires welding metal cutting, etc. By the way what is a dremel?
I intially wanted to have the system in a position to add a second card later and go SLI (hence the nforce 680i and the 850 PSU). However folks on this board seem to have big concerns about the 680 motherboards and whether SLI makes sense. For me right now, it probably doesn't. I am still using a 19 CRT (max 1600 x 1200), but would eventually like to upgrade it as well.
As for the budget, all of the above components are in it, but just barely. If I can get away with less for as good or better performace, I obviously don't want to do. I haven't included a sound card because I'm not sure what I am going to do with that. I have an old audigy I could use, at least for a while, but ultimately I'd like to get one of the creative xfi platinum cards. The other option is to just use the on board sound for a time.
So here are my questions:
1. I honestly dont' know what to do about a motherboard. I've read about the problems with the 680i, but I've seen lots of folks with them in their sigs etc. and I noticed alienware uses in their rigs. Are they really as bad as some suggest. Is it a board that a first timer should mess with?
2. If I don't go with the 680i, what motherboard do you suggest. Since I will essentially be giving up sli to do that, I assume I can go with smaller power supply? What would you suggest?
3. What do you think about the harddrives I picked? I just tried to pick ones with 16mb cache that weren't too expensive. I am more concerned with speed than storage size. I want to put these in Raid 0. Assuming I go with the e6600 instead of the 6700, I have a bit more cash I could use on faster drives. The other option to use the savings from the processor is to get 4 gig of memory. What do you think I will get more performance benefit out of?
4. Have I left anything out? I have a monitor, speakers, keyboard etc. I know I need a copy of XP also. Was planning on getting xp pro. Is there other software that I need to consider when builing my own? I wasn't thinking anti virus or productive software like office, but the programs the box builders include that you don't think about.
If you can't not go with 680i, don't raid & don't use PS/2 mouse. FWIW, my buddy is running an evga 680i sli setup perfectly at stock. He's waiting for a stable bios.
2) see #1. There's a kinda big undocumented thing about P965 boards that have 2 PCI-E slots: x16 & x4. My DQ6 can run sli with a modded driver. I have. Successfully. I sold the other card. That's another story. x4 is quite a performance penalty. I bought a SLI bridge for 10 bucks. The modded nvidia driver isn't up to date.
3) Your choice of hdd is great. Don't raid on 680i. Raid on anything else.
4) Your specs indicate that you have a kinda large budget. Since you're overclocking, it'd be best if you choose either D9GMH or D9GKX of any speed: