Alright so I'm getting all jittery with the announcement of the hard date of Intel's Spring Purchase Program coming on Thursday night including employment pre-verification. Although I won't be positive on what we are being given until Thursday night I have a good idea that the CPU will be either a Q9450 or Q9300 unless we will be getting the Q6600 and Q6700 again. The motherboard will prbably be the same DG33TL microATX board as last time and I'm not sure what version of Vista we are getting but like I said, Thursday's coming. So this is what I have so far picked out (actually already bought the graphics card):
Case: Apevia X-Navigator Full Tower w/500 Watt PSU
CPU(assumed): Intel Q9450 Core 2 Quad 2.66 GHz @ 1333 MHz FSB
Motherboard(assumed): Intel DG33TL LGA775 MicroATX
RAM: Patriot Viper DDR2-800 4GB(2x2GB) Kit (x2 For 8GB's total)
Graphics Card: BFG 9800GTX OC 512MB (x2 or x3 and possible trade up to 9900GTX if out in time)
OS(assumed): Windows Vista Home Premium (x32 or x64? not sure)
I'll be using pre-existing parts for the rest like some HDD's an ODD, etc. I'd use my old case but the 9800GTX won't fit (using a 9600 Pro AGP currently :X).
Now before you go crazy I know that:
1) The motherboard doesn't support SLi let alone have a 2nd 16x Slot. Eventually I will upgrade to another motherboard but I wan't to pay off some of the parts first. Plus I don't have my 24" monitor yet, just 1280x1024 CRT so for now, a single 9800GTX will do fine.
2) I realize I'll need to get a better PSU when SLI comes into the picture, and that Apevia isn't ranked well on a PSU list.
3) The 8GB will only work on x64 Vista but I don't know what we will be getting because I'm sure its OEM copies.
Questions I have:
1) For triple SLi, I'd need a 790i motherboard correct? However why do I see some 780's claiming 3 16x PCIe's such as particularly nice looking eVGA board on NewEgg. Is this something special eVGA did or what?
2) What powersupply should I shoot for, for the 3-Way SLi? I really like Apevia's Iceberg because of the LED's and whatnot but I know Apevia isn't supposed to be great at PSU's. Any cool looking quality ones?
3) Any suggestions or changes I should make to my configuration? I'm just about ready to buy the case and the RAM tomorrow so I can start paying it off before the Intel Program starts.
1) Yes, 790i does tri-SLI, BUT not with all cards. 780i & 608i can do tri-SLI unofficially. You'd have to look for modded drivers which are always outdated. Actually I'm against SLI unless SLI is being used right way. So many going for an overpriced SLI mobo + a weak-s gpu could have gotten a more powerful gaming combo right away with the same amount of money. $250-300 for SLI mobo + $200 GPU VS $100 P35 mobo + $200-400 GPU. It's like buying a Hummer saying I'll be driving off road. How often? If ever. When all they do is drive to the grocery store & big-box retailers.
2) Do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Look for the consensus on the power supply in tri-sli reviews. IMO, nothing else matters more than the look of the monitor that you stare at all day.
I'm with akhilles on the monitor choice being a big key. I'm a big fan of the older Dell 2407WFP's (I have 3007WFP), but beware of their newer stuff. I'd disagree about the motherboard though - as long as you're _sure_ that you WILL eventually go SLI. If you're not sure you'll ever need to, then skip the SLI board. For example, the 9900GTX, or Nvidia's next-gen (GT200) part, may well be all you need for 1920x1200 gaming. If you're not going to go SLI in the next couple of months, then do just get a P35 board.
If you're going to go SLI, go 790i. The (better) PCI Express 2.0 support, + direct GPU-to-GPU bus make this easily a better board for SLI. BIOS'es aren't super mature yet, but the platform is very promising. You'll need to beware the data corruption issues with FSB overclocking, but you didn't mention overclocking as a priority. Keep an eye on Xtreme forums (http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/) for info about working around said issues.
Then, you'll _definitely_ need to upgrade your PS. You'll need a top-class 1 KW+ plus PS if you really are going to run tri-SLI. If you only plan to run dual-SLI, then an 800 is fine. For the people who yell "overkill!", remember that you want a PS at 50-65% of its rated capacity for longevity. Active power factor correction means that most PSU's are operating in their peak efficiency range from 40% to 80+% load. I personally run SLI-ed 8800 GTXs, and hardware RAID (4x1 Raptors in RAID 0, and 2x Seagate Barracuda's in RAID-1), and my load runs from 500 to 650 W at the wall. Even given that 9800 GTX's x2 or x3 will be more efficient than 8800's, you're still going to be pulling some serious power at full load. I'd say a good 1 KW PS (PC Power and Cooling for example) would fit the bill.
I wouldn't ever use that Apevia PS. Remember that you'll already have a quality CPU and GPU hooked up to it. Get a decent PS. Sacrifice cool-looking looooong before you sacrifice quality. The single most important factor in component longevity is your choice of PS - don't %*@# around with it. Go check out Anandtech's PS roundups for a good, and relatively recent PS comparison.
Thanks for all the advice guys. Sorry I forgot to specify this is a gaming rig for the most part. I found that the 780i also supports tri-sli, the 790i just has DDR3 support and all the PCI-E x16 ports are 2.0 compliant (780i has 2 2.0 and 1 1.0). You know I always wondered if SLI was worth it and I never thought it was until I started deciding that I wanted a 1920x1200 display. The 9800GTX would run ok at that resolution with AA AF on low or off settings with other details on high but 2 in SLI do incredible work. I wouldn't even consider 3-Way SLI if I didn't get a discount on the cards (I work at Best Buy). Firstly though I will not be doing any SLI initially because of the motherboard limitations. I'm going to wait on a new motherboard and the other two graphics cards until the 9900GTX is released. If the GT200 can handle 1920x1200 without SLI (a giant performance leap like the 8 series over 7 series) then I'll just step up to it (rumors indicated a July release, I have 100 days since I bought the 9800GTX which is the first week of August). I'm not hopping directly to SLI, it'll be a two month wait (so I can pay some stuff off too lol).