I built my current system in 2004 and I think I've made all the upgrades to it I can without changing out the Motherboard. Now I'm to the point where I think its time for a new motherboard, cpu, memory and video card. My computer works fine for everyday use, but lags on the newer games (Flight Sim X, is unplayable) Here is my system as it stands today;
Antec Mid-tower Case 430 watt Power supply
ASUS P4S800D-E DELUXE 478 SiS 655TX
Intel Pentium 4 3.0C Northwood 3.0GHz Socket 478
CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)
DIAMOND Viper X1950 PRO 512 AGP Radeon 256-bit GDDR3 AGP 8X
HighPoint RocketRAID1720 PCI SATA II Controller Card
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3400620AS 400GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb
Creative Sound Blaster SB0610VP 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Audigy 4 SE
SAMSUNG 204B-SV Silver-Black 20" 5ms LCD
Window XP Professional
I've been told if working under a budget it is better to focus more on the Video side than the CPU, with that said here is what I'm thinking about getting:
SAPPHIRE 100258-1GL Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 $161.99
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V $99.99
ASUS M4A79T Deluxe AM3 DDR3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard
Phenom II X3 710 2.6GHz Socket AM3
Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1800 (PC3 14400)
Combo deal for MB, memory, cpu $384.98
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler $19.99 Total $666.95
Also, what are your thoughts about staying with Windows XP vs. Vista? Let me know if you have some other suggestions for upgrades, but remember I'm trying to not break the bank.
I like Sapphire cards, never had an issue with one.
Dunno much about Corsair power supplies.
I've had good luck with Asus motherboards (the only motherboard I've had a real issue with was a Biostar)
Phenom3 CPUs seem like really good processors, well according to the benchmarks anyway. Some other folks have good things to say about them. Haven't used one personally so I cannot comment further. You may want to look at the Phenom 720 (I think that's the one) it's the Black Edition and doesn't have a locked multiplier, this makes it simple to bump up the speed via an easy overclock by upping the multiplier a tad.
I always recommend Kingston memory when computability and longevity are a must, so I don't think you can go wrong there. Some one else may recommend something else, if you plan on overclocking. If you are using a Black Edition processor then memory speeds aren't so important.
I own an Acrtic Cooler 7 and it does exceptionally well with a Q6600, and I have read some good things about the Freezer64Pro. You may want to make sure that it will fit in your case and that there is room for it on your motherboard.
All in all I say it looks like a good build there. The only thing I can say is look at a DDR2 motherboard and get 4gb instead. If I recall, there is very little difference (real world) between DDR2 and DDR3; the price premium isn't worth it (in my opinion).
Don't buy Vista, Windows 7 will be out before long. Just reuse your copy of XP until then. I have tried Vista and Windows 7(beta), W7 is quite a bit faster and more responsive, plus my games play much faster in W7. Specifically Supreme Commander runs at nearly 15fps faster than Vista. This wouldn't be a huge jump if I were getting 50+fps but I was only getting about 22fps in Vista.
You pay $3 more and get 4 cores and 4GB of RAM instead of 3 cores and 2GB. Trust me, FSX will feel very differently.
Get a HD 4870 512MB if you can, instead of the HD 4850 1GB. It is faster and costs about the same AFAIK.
The 650TX is a top quality PSU. However, the same $80 after rebate buys you a PC Power & Cooling 750W. It's designed by the same people, bigger, just as good, and has 4 PCI-E connectors instead of two. That helps if you want to do Crossfire later and get a HD 4870 card (which needs 2 connectors). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341011&Tpk=S75CF
Glad to see some one else is on-board with the idea of using a DDR2 motherboard. I would also like to mention that I had used ALL the performance enhancements that can be done to Vista, with all unnecessary features/system processes turned off. I tried so many different combination of ideas to improve speed in Vista and nothing helped game performance or over-all responsiveness.
So my attitude about Vista is not blind ignorance, you can try it if you really want to, but if you are into performance, tweaking, and getting the most you can through experimentation, I feel you may be disappointed. I like Windows7 so far, but really though who's to say that the final release wont be just as bad as Vista (stranger things have happened.)
Some great recommendations, thanks. The main reason I thinking about getting DDR3 is I thought it might be it be more future proof. I looked at that Gigabyte MB, the only issue I saw with is was it just had 2 PCI x16 slots. Doubt I'd ever put more than 2 video card in my computer, but you never know. The ASUS has 4 PCI x16 slots and room for 3 (double slot cards), so the review said.
I also appreciate the alternative PS suggestion. I wasn't sure who makes realible PS, but I've heard you want to get a good brand and some are very poorly made. I figured the Corsair was pretty good, but I'll look into the PC Power supply.
Now that being said, keep in mind that a setup with 3 HD 4870 cards needs something like 850W (Corsair 850TX, Antec TPQ-850). One with 4 of them needs a huge case (4 dual-slot cards take a lot of room) and a 1000W PSU (Corsair, Silverstone have some good ones at Newegg). Also, games scale pretty badly beyond 2 cards, so the third and especially the 4th card don't add much value. Besides, if I really wanted 4 HD 487 0 cards, I'd buy two HD 4870 X2 cards instead to avoid the issue with the case size.
As long as you are not itching to pull the trigger now, consider looking into the PhenomII X4 810. It's not out yet but will be soon. The 810 is 45nm, very efficient, and has disabled cache (fab defect) instead of 1 disabled core. Just my 2¢.