I haven't built a computer for about 8 years now. I switched to a laptop out of convenience in college, but I'm getting tired of playing games in their lowest resolution with all video options set to low. Anyhow, since I haven't been keeping up on hardware lately, I was wondering if anyone could give me a some ideas. Here's what I have so far:
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next couple of weeks. BUDGET RANGE: Max of about $1200 SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, some programming (probably run Linux in VMWare), web surfing, music, etc/ PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitors, keyboard/mouse, speakers, and I already have Windows 7 so no need for an OS. PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Indifferent COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU. OVERCLOCKING: Maybe. I haven't overclocked in the past, but I wouldn't mind pushing the CPU a little. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe. Depends on the best value and energy efficiency. MONITOR RESOLUTION: Two 22in monitors running at 1920x1080 ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
CPU: I have a friend from whom I can get an i7 950 for about $280, so it is likely I would go with that.
Motherboard: I've heard good things about the ASUS P6T boards, but haven't researched it too much as of yet.
Case: I'd prefer a smaller case, but I know planning the components comes into much greater play here. I'd prefer a case without any lights, no windows, and something this is relatively quiet. The last computer I built, I believe I used a Thermaltake Coolermaster case (the name might be wrong here), and it sounded like a wind-tunnel during full use and had a big window that caused a red LED on my motherboard to act like a bright nightlight. I'd also prefer some USB ports on the front or top of the case.
Hard Drive: Looking for about a 1 TB of storage.
Graphics Card: Good price/performance ratio. I'm willing to SLI/Crossfire two cards if they come out to be cheaper than a single card. But, if the SLI/Crossfired cards end up costing me quite a bit extra during their lifespan due to extra energy consumption, I'm happy shelling out a little more for the single card.
Optical Drive: Just a simple DVD RW.
PSU: No idea. Whatever would sufficiently support the setup. Preferably quiet.
I was going to recommend a 5870 but availability it really bad right now so its pretty hard to find one. So I picked two 5770's in crossfire and it will perform similarly to one 5870. Of course if you wanted to you could wait a few weeks to see if availability improves but the 5770's are usually in stock.
I threw in an aftermarket cooler because I didnt know if the cpu you're buying from your friend has the cooler with it. That one is decent and you could probably get away with some decent overclocking.
The Freezer 7 Pro isn't reknowned as the best I7 cooler out there. For a similar price you can get the Titan Fenrir which has been rated the best air cooler for I7's many times over (its not available on Newegg, so shop on Ebay or another site).
If this pc is mainly for gaming, an i7 simply isn't worth it. An i5-750 is a better gaming cpu at a lower cost. On the other hand, you're putting in a budget graphics card. For gaming, the GPU is infinitely more important than the CPU. So, I'd suggest to spend the money saved by getting an i5 (or even an AMD CPU) on a proper graphics card like the 5850.
Be aware though that the i5 platform won't offer many upgrade choices. The i7 can be upgraded to an i9 (6-core), but these will cost a huge amount ($700 is seen everywhere).
AMD's AM3 socket is just as good for gaming and offers the same degree of upgradeability, and the Thuban (AMD 6-core) will be a lot cheaper than the Intel version.
Thanks for the input. Just one quick question. What are the big differences between the ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 and the regular ASUS P6T? From the descriptions it sounds like the Deluxe V2 supports 24GB vs 12 GB of ram and has 8 USB ports instead of 6 on the regular P6T. Are these the only differences? It looks like the P6T is otherwise the same, but $50 less.
^Silmarunya gives a good point, for your need and resolution an i5-750 (its definatly not any better then 920 so i disagree with silmarunya) will satisfy you very well. Its not only cheaper but its platform is cheaper also. You can as a result spend more on your GPU (However GPU isn't infinatly more important, CPU is very important also, the more powerful graphics configuration you have then the more powerful CPU you need as it will become the bottleneck). And about the hard drive, samsung spinpoit is very fast but I do not know of its reliability, WD drives are a safer bet in my opinion if you want safety, performance wise the spinpoint is probably one of the fastest 7200rpm drives i've seen.
-RAM: OCZ Platinum 6GB (3x2GB) CL7
PSU: You don't need a modular power supply, all they do is provide a better cable managment since you can do whatever you want with the cables and stuff so the inside of the case will look more tidy. However Corsairs TX and HX series are both of excellent quality, the only difference HX offers is modular, however a good new case of today offers perfect cable managment for a non-modular psu so no need so spend the extra money for the HX series. And a 700Watt PSU will be enough for you, but since corsair only offers a 750watt then thats a good choice even for crossfireing or sli'ing cards.
Take a look at the gaming benchmarks (bottom 3). 3 games tested with 2 clear victories for the i5 and one slim victory for the i5. Turbo is great, isn't it? Of course, the i7 reclaims leadership when overclocked, but even there it's a slim difference.
Should you go with an i5, you cannot take 6GB or RAM as the P55 chipset is dual channel. You'll have to stick with 4, which is still more than enough.
About the bottleneck: even relatively cheap CPU's like the AMD 720 don't bottleneck a single GPU. You'll only encounter bottlenecks in situations with multiple high-end GPU's.
^Thats automatically biased. It might be the ram or the motherboard that can affect the result since they use different platforms the motherboards might not give each other an even machup. I'd like to specs of the two computers, because ram is big a influence i want to see the quanitity of ram, its cas latency, and its frequecny as well as the motherboard which might have different specs.
However GPU isn't infinatly more important, CPU is very important also, the more powerful graphics configuration you have then the more powerful CPU you need as it will become the bottleneck.
i know that the pci-e slots on p55 boards will slightly bottleneck some high powered GPU in crossfire (as it runs in x16/x8), but will the i5 CPU itself bottleneck x-fired 5850s when overclocked to 3.6ghz?? i can't find the answer to this anywhere, and i intend on upgrading to this at 1920x1080 in the near future...