Well I've squeezed about as much life out of my current system as possible, so I'm badly due for a new machine. After doing some homework and trying to educate myself on what's current in the home-built world, I came up with the following. Please feel free to critique my choices and make any suggestions.
This system will be used for general home use and gaming. Also, I'm not a major overclocking enthusiast, but I do plan to OC the Q6600 a bit. I don't normally like to take things to the extreme, so I'm looking at a OC somwhere in the 3.0 to 3.2 range.
Am I missing anything? FYI I already have a fairly current DVD Drive/Burner.
I have a couple thoughts ...
1) I had a really hard time choosing the heatsink. I wanted something fairly easy to install (i.e. no lapping needed), but that would do a good job at a nice price point. I came up with the Hyper 212 after reading THIS review over at FrostyTech. It seemed like a really good choice at it's price point.
2) Am I just throwing money away going with a Raptor for my OS and apps? Should I just buy a single 7200rpm Caviar and be done with it? I guess I'm just not sure if the performance increase justifies the cost.
After thinking about it more and reading around, I think I may ditch the idea of using a Raptor for my OS and Apps, and just go with a small SATA drive. The price per performance on the Raptor just doesn't seem to hold up to some of the newer SATA drives. So I'm considering doing this instead ...
HD1 (OS and Apps): Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular recording) 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive OEM ST3250410AS
HD2 (Music, Pictures, Video files and General storage): Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (2nd Generation Perpendicular Recording) 500GB 7200rpm 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s NCQ Hard Drive OEM ST3500320AS
These drives rank pretty high on many of the categories of Tom's Hardware's HD Chart comparisons, including a solid ranking on price vs. performance.
There seems to be an ongoing debate if Raptor is worth the cost. If it's just for OS/apps, you wouldn't need more a 76GB and probably could do with a 36GB. If you're going to just run OS/apps on the 250GB again it's more than you need. You would do just about as well with the 8800GT for the money difference. Could save some money with the ASUS P5K E with or without firewire on the other hand a 30% discount is good but not familiar with the board so really can't say if I think it's worth the money
I had the same HD debate you're having. After lots of forum discussion and research, I believe that you're better off ditching the raptor and going with a relatively small SATA drive for your OS and apps. Raptor is faster, but you probably won't even notice the difference. Harder to justify the price of raptors than it was a couple years ago.
I would be careful about going too small though. Apps take up a lot of space these days, and they're getting bigger all the time. If you start installing the latest games, creativity software, etc., those gigabytes will disappear fast. In the interest of future proofing (I'm assuming this machine will be with you for at least a couple of years) you might not want to go much smaller than 250 GB for the OS/app drive.
Also, you didn't say whether you're going with a 64 bit OS or not, but if you are you might want to consider 4GB of ram. Especially with Vista. With DDR2 prices as low as they are now, it's easy to justify picking up a little extra.
Thanks for the advice on the drives. I'm now leaning further away from the Raptor idea, but I haven't given it up entirely. I gotta think it through a little more.
Although I started thinking about my GPU selection as it relates to the GA-P35 motherboard. Do you guys think I'd see any noticeable improvement if I went with a Mobo that has a PCIe 2.0 slot? Like the Gigabyte X38 chipset boards? The GIGABYTE GA-X38-DQ6 looks like a excellent board but it's also $120 more than the P35 version. I hate to think I'm not taking full advantage of the throughput potential of the GPU, but maybe in the end it doesn't matter that much.
Here is some food for thought.
The new mainstream 45nm Intel Quad Cores are comming out around Feb 10th @ 1333FSB, so you may want to consider holding off on your purchase, even though I know patience isnt easy, because its a bang for your buck situation. Intel will be offering more speed for less money, its a win-win situation for you, also the X48 chipset will be debuting at the same time, which will drive down the cost for the X38 offerings, which may allow you to transform this into a DDR3 core, which will give you some increased bandwidth for that hungry quad core, as of right now you can get the OCZ Platinum 10666 dual channel kit for $240, and this memory is top rated in recent Toms Hardware benchmarks.
So my advice is patience my young padawon learner.
For the other things in your list, yeesh where to start.
Newegg is having a HUGE sale right now, on almost all the parts you will want for a bleeding edge Quad core DDR3 Rig.
OK so lets start with the case, you can get a Thermaltake Armor for cheap right now on Newegg, you can also get the 700w modular quad +12v rail PSU to go with it for cheap as well, all this stuff is instant rebate, with the added bonus of rebates on top of it.
Your greaphics card is another point of intrest, I dont know what you have been told but EVGA isnt exactly your best choice in graphics card brands, you need to buy a BFG Technologies card, this is top tier, they use the best components, overclock from the factory to give you more for your money, and all their cards come with a lifetime warranty, they just cant be beat, quite simply they are the best graphics card maker there is, period, and you wont pay more money for one then you would for some of the other brands if you are a smart shopper, it just so happen the 8800 GTS 512MB is also on sale at Newegg.
your motherboard choice is also not the best, i have found through 12 years of experiance building computers that Asus is by far the best motherboard manufacturer out there, their products are always excellent quality, AND they stand by their product, if its broken they will take care of it no questions asked, world class customer service style, so do yourself a favor go with asus.
As far as your hard drive goes i would buy a Seagate barraccuda 1TB drive, you can get it on newegg for around the same price you were going to pay for 2 drives.
Just to clear something up here, I am the type of person that buys the best product availble no matter what brand it is, and there are certain brands that always stand out from the rest, they dont comprimise when it comes to quality and customer service, so when i make a suggestion it is from years of experiance, and not fanboyism, so i would advise you to seriously consider what i am telling you.