Need advice/criticism on first time build

Hello Everyone,

Recently - and quite out of the blue - my wife bought me an Antec 900 case because she had been listening to me hankering for a new computer for a while. Beyond normal computer use, I plan to use this future build for gaming (more strategy games than Bioshock, though I'm waiting for the PC GTAIV release). I do not plan to overclock, though always remain open minded. I do not want to be extravagant, as I am a lowly graduate student.

With this in mind, I have a few ideas/questions (all prices quoted from newegg):

CPU: Intel E8400 or Intel E8500 ($170 and $190 respectively). Do you think the E8500's extra cost justified according to what it would be used for?

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS ($85). I've read on these forums that this drive performs quite well.

Motherboard: ASUS P5Q Pro ($140). I wanted a relatively cheap build and this motherboard seems to fit those needs. I do not plan to use crossfire, but always wanted to keep the option open. Admittedly, this board does crossfire only at 8.0x I believe. Also seems nice for the price.

Memory: OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 ($65 AR). I really had no idea about the type of RAM except that people here say that DDR2 1066 is not worth it. This seemed like a good deal.

Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 4850. The SAPPHIRE 100242L ($155 AR) seems to be a popular choice at Newegg. Do you think the price will drop on these cards relatively soon, or is this too good to pass up?

Power Supply Unit: Umm, no idea actually. How much wattage would a system like this need? If I were to use two 4850's in crossfire?

Right now I'm using an old 19" CRT monitor, which I will continue to use until it dies, then I may buy a 22" widescreen. I also plan to use Vista Home Premium ($110), which brings the total cost (without PSU ) to
$725 - $745, depending on the CPU.

Please let me know any criticisms you may have of this build (or is parts do not go together or whatnot). Also, I have no clue about power requirements or power supply units at all, so any help would greatly be appreciated!

Edit: I was planning on using the 64-bit version of Vista.
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  1. if you want to get your mobo from newegg, sign up a account and they will send you a weekly ad, i believe this week they are giving $30 off for this board, i am buying the same board too. :)
  2. Great choices!

    Your crossfire option will not be significantly nerfed by the board, because your monitor will only be 1680x1050. At that resolution there is almost no difference between crossfire on P45, and x48.

    Good deal on the RAM. You may get other recommendations, but I think it's just fine.

    ATI already owns the video card market with this card. They will not be dropping this price as they have no competition right now.

    I recommend the Corsair 750TX, although you can get by with a bit less if you need to. Getting this Corsair will just be a guarantee that your near future upgrades are all covered.
  3. @rsx1022: Thank you for the heads up on that deal!

    @Proximon: The 4850 not dropping in price makes sense, I will purchase it soon then. Is ~750W the area to shoot for with this kind of build? The CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX is $99 AR appears to be a good deal with plenty of good ratings. I will bookmark this PSU and, barring a better suggestion/deal, will be my choice.

    Edit: Would it be better to get a SATA dvd drive over IDE, or would it matter much?
  4. Sata drives are common and only a few dollars more. I think that is worth getting rid of the flat cable. Probably not faster, but I do believe the IDE channel is more prone to issues.
  5. @Proximon: Thank you very much for your help. I went with a well reviewed sata drive from newegg.

    I've ordered all my parts but I have one last question: should I use onboard audio or reuse a rather old SB Creative Audigy 2 PCI card that I have? I have 5.1 Surround speakers, if that makes a difference.
  6. Try them out, but I think the Audigy 2 will still beat out on board... or you may notice no difference.
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