After lurking around these forums absorbing all the good advice, plus doing other research, I'm almost ready to pull the trigger. I am still undecided about the GPU to get and would appreciate your thoughts.
I have dismantled and added to many computers in the past, including keeping my six-year-old laptop on life support (hence why it's time for a new machine), but this will be my first completely new build.
As you can see, I tend to hold onto my machines for a while, so I would like this to last 4+ years without too much upgrading.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Over the next 2-3 weeks as I see specials.
BUDGET RANGE: ~US$1500 including the parts I already have
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
Gaming (mostly strategy such as Civ IV and Total War, but the odd FPS now that I'll actually be able to run them), surfing the internet, listening to music/watching movies.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
I already have a Samsung 2333SW ($169 from Dell) and just picked up a Intel Core i7 920 from Micro Center ($229).
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, but anyone else such as Fry's if they have things cheaper.
PARTS PREFERENCES: None in particular, beyond wanting an i7.
OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but probably only a bit (say to 3.33 GHz by tweaking the clock speed, maybe to 3.66 GHz).
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably not.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: After years of a hot, noisy laptop I would love to keep this machine cool and quiet.
OS: I plan on using Windows 7 RC until the final version comes out.
NEW TOTAL: ~$1494 + tax if I spend about $250 on the graphics card.
My questions are these:
1) Which video card would you go with (I'm not trying to stir up an NVIDIA vs ATI debate here)? 2) Is it worth the extra to get that Coolmaster? 3) Is that RAM decent enough? I am less comfortable OCing the RAM than the CPU, but is there something out there with better timings? 4) Do I need any extra case fans? Something like this: Scythe S-Flex SFF21G 120mm Case Fan - Retail, $13
5) Any other thoughts?
I would go with 1600 RAM if you plan on overclocking at all...it leaves you headroom. With 1333 RAM you are effectively limiting yourself to a baseclock of 170ish with a 20x cpu multi (3.4ghz). I suggest this set: (I have it and it's outstanding)
The video card can be a matter of personal preference. If you want to run today's most demanding games at absolutely max settings on a 24 incher you might run into some framerate issues with any of those cards. However, they are all beasts and will more than handle your gaming needs...plus you can add to any one of them in crossfire or SLI down the road if you feel the need for more power. My personal vote is for the 260, but I've become somewhat attached to nvidia after owning ATI cards for a long time.
I would get the dark knight. It cools just as well if not better than the V8 (I own the V8...it does an outstanding job, but so does the dark knight from what I hear and it's a no brainer at $30 less).
The 900 has good stock cooling, but adding extra fans never hurts. Keep in mind they will raise your noise levels. If you're looking for an alternate comparable case, I would highly suggest the cm-690 (which I also own). It sports excellent airflow and is cheaper than the 900:
I think I'll switch to that OCZ RAM that foolycooly and gkay09 suggested as it doesn't add much to the price but should give better performance.
I'll drop down the mobo but will have to investigate between the P6T and EX58. As I'm not planning on adding in two graphics cards the EX58 may do the trick.
And yeah, I couldn't really decide between the Antec 900 and the CM-690, and now Why_Me has thrown another into the mix. That HAF might be a bit too big for me, even if that does give better airflow. Plus the PSU mount seems like a problem for some.
So all in all that should allow me to get a slightly better GPU. I'll now have to pick between the 4890 and the GTX 275. So many choices!
I've updated quite a few of the parts/links based on the replies and further digging around.
Am I crazy to put in 3 WD Caviar Black 640Gb HDs, 2 for RAID 0 and one for storage? Should I be using a different HD for the storage?
I'm still stuck on the graphics card though. With all the savings I can now spend about $250 and sneak in under $1500 + tax total. A lot of the comments I have seen about the HD4890 are that it has more OC potential than the GTX 275, but still isn't worth the price increase over a HD4870. I'm not sure I want to OC the GPU so would you pick the 4890 or 275?
And to throw an extra spanner, Tom's now put out this article that compares two 4770s in Xfire and it seems to do pretty well against the HD4890, and even the GTX 280.
My instinct is that I would be better off getting a single decent card over 2 4770s as it will be easy enough to add another decent card in the future (even though I don't think I will need to for quite a while).
Well those changes are good...
And as for you using 3 WD Black is no problem...
Maybe you could use the 320GB version in RAID 0 as they would be suffice for the OS and Apps and use a 1TB or higher as storage...
But using the 640 doesn't hurt...But use a 1TB as the storage option...its $25 more but worth it...
As for the graphics card, it is much of a personal preference...
If you don't play very graphics intensive games at very high resolutions, the stick with the 4870 1GB and save $40 over a 4890...
But if you want more future proof and would want to avoid adding another card in crossfire, get the 4890 as later say maybe after a year, you could overclock it(If you browse around, certainly you could get easy guides to overclock those) and be happy with the performance...
I would say you just check out the reviews of those cards and see which suits your gaming portfolio better and at which card performs well at resolution you play and get that card...