I'm putting together a new system; haven't built one in a while so I'd appreciate some feedback. I want a decent gaming system but without spending a fortune. The idea would be to have it last ~5 years with only minor upgrades. Here's what I'm looking at:
Cooling: Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7
Memory: CRUCIAL BallistiX 4GB PC2-6400 (2 x 2GB)
HD1 (OS & Apps): Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB
HD2 (Data): Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB
Video: eVGA e-GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer S75Q (750W)
Case: Antec 900
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium - 64 bit with SP1
I'd run everything stock to start, but I want a plan to upgrade the system to keep it useful as long as possible. Future upgrades would include:
2) Add 4GB RAM
3) Add a second 8800GT and run in SLI
I'm having a tough time choosing an appropriate motherboard. I don't want a lot of bells and whistles, just need to run the components I've selected and be able to do the future upgrades I mentionned. I need support for a 45nm quad core (Q9450) and SLI for the second 8800GT. Decent overclocking potential, but I don't want a super expensive gaming mobo. Good onboard sound would be nice too. Any suggestions? I've always been a fan of Asus products.
Any other comments? See any obvious mistakes I might be making? I've looked at a Q6600 instead of the Q9450 as well. Comments on using that instead?
780i can reliably overclock Q9450 to 3.2ghz and Q6600 to 3.6ghz. For higher, you'll have to dump sli support and go for x38/48 with crossfire. If this early benchmark for hd4870 is real, crossfire may be the way to go over sli though. http://forums.legitreviews.com/about15370.html
* CPU - I believe the q6700 is a good buy right now. It has a higher multiplier than the q6600, so you won't need a higher FSB to have the same speed as the q6600. It's about $50-60 more than the q6600, but I think it's worth the difference. The q9450 is a good CPU, but has a lower multiplier and hence probably won't OC as much as the q6700. It does however run cooler so that can be a factor to you. The q9450 will have the newer instruction set, so it'll encode a bit better than the q6600/q6700.
* CPU HSF - The ACF 7 pro is a nice cooler, but for a few $ more you can get the better performing Xigmatek s1283 cooler. It's going for $37 shipped at newegg. Frosty's review of the s1283 cooler.
* Memory - Try and stick with CAS 4 DDR2 800mHz memory. You can get 1066 mHz DDR2, but that would only give you a bit more OC'ing room over the 800 mHz stuff. Your more than likely going to be at or below 450 mHz FSB, so that would equate to about 900 mHz DDR2 speeds, which most DDR2 800mHz CAS4 memory will be able to handle pretty good.
* Mobo - Personally I'd go with a x38 or at least a p35 based mobo. Most quality p35 based mobo's will OC pretty good and have similiar features to the more expensive x38 mobo's. Most nVidia based mobo's have had some recent issues and I'm not convinced that the mobo's are a smart buy, especially if your using the SLI feature. I personally don't think SLI/Xfire are always a good option. You will spend more $ on the mobo/PSU/GPU's when using SLI/Xfire. You could instead take that extra spent on a SLI/Xfire build and put it towards a good GPU. Take the best or near the best single GPU card and use that until you want more or until your performance isn't what you want. Than you just buy the best or near the best single GPU at that time and continue on. Yes SLI/Xfire have certain situations that work well for them, but for 95% of all systems this won't be the best option.
*PSU - Although you have selected a very nice PSU, if you stick with a single GPU solution, you can save $ and get a different one (since you won't be needing all of that extra power). I would go with PCP&C 610w Silencer/Corsair vx550w/Corsair tx650w/Antec NeoHE 550w/Seasonic 550w PSU for any single GPU solution. Any of the ones mentioned are quality built, are efficient (>80%), and have good warranties too.
* Case - You have selected one of the better cases to get. It's priced well and has lots of options. You won't be dissapointed in your selection here. You could even go with the Cooler Master 690 case, if you wanted to save about $10-40, depending on what specials are going on.