I intend to use this build for gaming. I'm not intending or expecting it to be ultra-high end $5000 solid state space age stainless steel with free can opener. I'd like it to perform well with few hiccups and be a system I can rely on for a few years without it being too obsolete. I'm at the point now where my rig cannot meet the minimum system requirements for some games and I cannot upgrade it. That being said, I've been looking into buying a new system. My price range started as wide as $600 to $1300, hoping to pay as little as possible but prepared to pay what it takes to get the job done.
This build was drawn up by a friend. He started with the figure of $1300, determined to make me spend as much as I was willing, and ended up with the specs below. I'm not too tech savvy (Knowing what the components do, and capable of simple comparisons such as 4GB > 2 GB). With my primary and only goal being gaming, will this build work? Is it cost effective? What needs to be changed out? Are there any glaring weaknesses, things I've overlooked, incompatibilities, or components that are better than the others and could be downgraded? Any and all feedback is appreciated.
Ok you made some big mistakes, and I'm sure others have better replacements, but first off, do not use a micro atx, all you do is sacrifice features, and your case will have lots of extra space. Second off, get him a cheaper case, there are ltos of sturdy cases for half the price, and you can use the money saved to upgrade the GFX card to two hd4850's in crossifre. that is why a standard atx board is better. Power supply is way overkill even for 2 GFX cards... unless he is overclocking that cooler is unnecessary...
So start by making those changes and getting more input from someone who knows more than me.
Video card: Visiontek HD 4870, $250. Faster than the 3870X2, and it will let you add a second card later when it's needed (and cheaper). You can theoretically do that with the 3870x2 too, but it works less well because 2 3870X2 cards mean 4 GPUs and games are not usually optimized for that. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814129113
RAM, HDD, PSU - good choices
Dump the sound card and the Nirvana - you don't need either of them. The motherboard has pretty good audio already, and the Q6600 retail comes with a cooler that can do the job perfectly as long as you're not interested in overclocking. Buy the Nirvana or something better when/if you overclock.
(BTW, how did you get the total to $903.92 on that list in the original post? If I add them up I get 270+135+59+250+80+70+70+30+140+50=1154.)
And of course, add a second HD 4870 later. You can also add a HD 4850, it will work fine combined with a HD 4870 and you'll get performance somewhere in the middle between HD 4850 Crossfire and HD 4870 Crossfire.
Between HD 4870 and HD 3870x2: the HD 4870 is a little bit faster, based on the benchmarks I've seen. It also has the advantage I mentioned earlier, that adding a second card later doesn't get you into the 4-GPU area.
Thanks a ton for the help, folks. I had no idea about the issues brought up. I sat there and grilled the friend of mine who wrote this thing up for half an hour about the different parts, and when he suggested a $180 sound card, I tactfully asked him if he minded if I searched around for a second opinion, haha.
Thanks for being here. You all have surely saved me a lot of trouble.