Projected System build

I am planning on building a new system for myself within the next few weeks, and was looking for some thoughts on my projected build. I have built a few computers in the past, but always low budget builds, and this will be my first build aimed at performance. The system is aimed at gaming (high settings), but also will be used for computing work related to school (AE/Physics major, so some programming etc.)

My budget for the system, including all peripherals, is about $2000 shipped.

OS: Vista home premium x64 with free upgrade to windows 7

Case: Coolermaster HAF 932

CPU: Phenom II 955 BE

CPU cooler: Sunbeam Core-Contact Freezer

MOBO: ASUS M4A79 Deluxe

HDD: 1TB caviar black

PSU: Seventeam ST-850ZAF 850W

RAM: OCZ Flex EX (4 x 2gb)

GPU: XFX radeon 4890 (x2)

Disk Drive: LG Blue ray

Monitor: LG 23"

Input: Logitech G15 keyboard and Logitech MX518 mouse

I'm looking for some commentary on things I could improve on without affecting the price hugely. I've thought about i7 and ddr3, but at the moment, performance from the phenom and the lower latency ddr2 seems competitive while more cost effective.
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  1. I'd get just 4GB of ram for now, and use DDR3 because future CPU's will support it.

    swap the PSU for one by Corsair, antec, OCZ or PCP&C as these are higher quality.

    for the graphics setup, just get one 4890 now and get a 5870 when it comes out in late September.
  2. For a 1920x1080 monitor a single 4890 will be able to max just about everything out. You also wont get a benefit for gaming from more than 4GB of ram. I also doubt that the programs you are working with will be able to use more than 4GB of ram so you dont need the extra 4GB.

    The corsair 750TX is significantly cheaper than that seventeam one and better, it is also plenty of power for 2 4890s in the future

    I also suggest getting the M4A79T Deluxe board as it uses DDR3 ram and will let you upgrade it longer into the future.
    You need DDR3 to go with it so get the OCZ reapers

    Dont forget to check out combos, you can save $40 with these two combos
  3. Thats a pretty good build. BUT i'd suggest a powersupply from corsair. Its cheaper and has the lowest ripple of all the 850w power supplies i've seen.
  4. definitely move to a full AM3 platform , with 4 gig of DDR3

    Unless your applications are 64 bit as well as the OS then they cant use more RAM anyway .
    Games can only use as much system RAM as is on the RAM on the gfx cards , so more than 4 gig isnt helpful there either .

    As mentioned a good 750 watt psu will run 2 x 4890's just fine , but you probably only need one anyway at that resolution . Id buy one at first and if you want to run crysis on ultra high with huge AF an AA then maybe consider spending the extra
  5. I could go AM3 by adding the same MOBO, just the AM3 version
    and 4 gb of OCZ reaper ram
    for about the same price...

    I've also thought about going i7, keeping things mostly the same, just substituting in a few things,
    CPU: core i7
    RAM:G.Skill trident

    but in that case price becomes an issue... I would probably stick to radeon 4890s (unless someone can present a really convincing argument otherwise), I would definitely drop blue ray then in favor of a DVD drive. Price is a bit more then, but with some combo deals, it would just fall within my budget. Then again, I keep hearing drop CF and just use one 4890(could possibly hang on to blue ray then)...
    Note: Did like the suggested corsair PSU, so swap that for the Seventeam in all builds...

    Basically, I've been debating i7 vs phenom for awhile, but haven't yet heard a convincing argument to drop the ATI GPU's in favor of Nvidia.

    Final notes: Would consider a higher resolution monitor(within reason), but Newegg options seem a bit limited/don't know what brands to look for. Also, as mentioned above, this would be used for school as well as gaming (possibly some rendering etc in the future)
  6. There are some games that perform significantly better on nvidia architecture(about 5% better) than on an equivilant ATI card, most dont but check the benchmarks for the games you want to play just to make sure, the other side of that is that nVidia cards cost more so if the games you like to play dont have a preference ATI is the better way to go. The reasoning for 1 4890 for now is that a single 4890 can play almost all games on high at 1920x1200 and most people are fine with just one, if you arent one of those people and really do need the add AA and AF then a second one would help.

    For rendering you would get a boost out of the i7 compared to the phenom II so it may be worth considering the i7 if you know you will be rendering in the future.
  7. First, thanks all for the quick responses...
    I've been a bit of an AMD fanboy in the past, but recently I've been leaning more towards the i7 for overclocking ability and multitasking. Right now I'm thinking i7, with the above changes, but I'm up in the air whether to go crossfire or not... (probably will depend on exactly how much $ I end up having to spend).

    One more quick question... SSDs...
    is it worth it considering my build? Maybe some pro's vs cons? I'm not overly familiar with the technology, just the basics.

    Really I'm looking for maximum performance for my $, and any advice on where I could redistribute my funds would be greatly appreciated. (changing keyboard probably, any other suggestions would be appreciated)
  8. Wait for the second generation to get restocked
    It uses smaller manufacturing, is cheaper, faster, cooler, and uses less power. Its just out for a minor firmware fix right now which intel has fixed and released online so they should be in stock soon.
  9. I did end up changing my keyboard to a more generic one, as well as a different case (cheaper + free shipping)
    Case: AZZA Solano 1000

    Those two changes dropped about $100 from each build, the i7 is about 1900 shipped atm, the AMD build would be slightly cheaper.

    Still would appreciate some comments as to where I could improve performance, (prices above are with 4890CF, but if someone can show me other places where I could improve performance more than CF, I would appreciate it...)

    Still considering a SSD, but could use some more info: any complications with setup, would performance gains be significant (better than CF for example), best way to set up multi-drive system (I'm familar with RAID to some extent, but not setups using one high speed, one low speed drive, also, I have a 160gb western digital sitting around, so if I went SSD, I would probably drop the 1TB)
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