So here's the deal. I'm way out of the loop when it comes to hardware. I haven't been keeping up with the latest developments and reviews in about three or four years. But I finally landed a decent-paying job, so I'm looking to splurge a little and build a new PC to replace the dinosaur I'm using. I did a little research and picked out some parts, but I'm very flexible as long as the cost is reasonable.
What I need
This is going to be primarily a gaming system. I do a little bit of work in Photoshop and mess with Maya every once in a while, but for the most part it's for gaming and general web-browsing.
I want to be able to play current games (Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, etc.) at reasonable framerates (40+ is fine) on high graphics settings. I have a 19x12 monitor, but I don't mind bumping the resolution down to 12x7 if necessary. I'd also like to be able to play future games with at least 30 frames at medium settings, hopefully for the next three to five years (doing minor upgrades if necessary, but that's the timeline for outright building a brand new system).
What I DON'T need
THE BEST PC ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET!!!1 CAN PLAY CRYSIS AND FAR CRY 2 SIMULTANEOUSLY ON TWO DIFFERENT MONITORS RUNNING AT MAX SETTINGS WHILE ENCODING HD VIDEO IN THE BACKGROUND! I'm not that hardcore, I just want to be able to play games in a satisfactory manner.
What I'm re-purposing
Antec case. Yep, really don't give a crap. It gets the job done.
Pioneer DVD-RW drive. Does it read discs? Check. Does it burn discs? Check. Moving on.
My hard drives - a 500GB and a 120GB. Plenty of space for me right now, and I haven't had any problems with them.
Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc.
My DVD drive as well as my HDDs are IDE, and the motherboard only has SATA ports. Some quick Googling indicated that there are adapters available for about $15-25 a piece, but I'm wondering if it might be worth it to just buy new drives, especially if the HDDs might fail in the near future.
Also, how do the CPU and GPU go with one another? I don't want, for example, the CPU bottlenecking the GPU such that a cheaper card would get me roughly the same performance.
What areas of this build are likely to go obsolete first? I have no problem adding RAM in the future, or adding a second video card to get the SLI performance boost, but I don't want to have to upgrade the CPU after a year or two.
You should avoid nVidia chipsets. It's really best to get a P45 board or, if you want to have dual cards, an x38. Really, with your budget stop worrying about SLI and get a P43 board. The $30 or so you save could be well used elsewhere, say on a CPU upgrade.
As the 9800GTX+ is very similar or identical to an ATI 4850, you can save some money there as well.
Ahh, I love the internet. Exactly the sort of things I needed to know. Thanks.
One more question: Is there a good ATI manufacturer that offers lifetime warranties on their cards? I've had more video cards die on me than pet goldfish, so that was one of the big motivations for going with BFG Tech.