Well, if you're not sure whether or not you'll crossfire in the future and your first card is a 5970, I think that puts you in the i7 9xx series of processors just for the graphics card bandwidth. Having your PCIe slots' bandwidth cut in half when you get another down the road will be no fun.
This case will definitely fit the 5970. I have it, I've measured. I currently have a 4870X2 installed and there's plenty of clearance beyond the edge of that.
If you live near a microcenter, you can get this processor for $200
Provides you with two PCIe 2.0 x16 lanes to handle the speed of your 5970s. Hyper threading gives you the ability to process 8 software threads on 4 physical cores. Much overclocking headroom with air cooling.
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 is usually recommended because it's performance is top-notch and it's relatively inexpensive
RAM: G.Skill PI Series 6 GB (3 x 2 GB). Haven't seen these sticks before. They run at 7-8-7-24 with only 1.5 volts, so you should be able to get pretty tight timings out of them if you up the voltage to the i7's stated limit of 1.65 volts.
Power Supply: I'm thinking right now you may not need this much power, but when you have your second card, you might want the extra juice. This 950 Watt Corsair should be able to handle future upgrades should you decide to add another 5970 and a blu-ray drive or whatever in the future.
Then add the Radeon 5970 for $650 (due to supply issues, it's about $50 over priced right now)
Then you've got $1,738
This fits your budget, but others may spot combos that I overlooked or may have better suggestions for RAM and cases. I only suggest the Storm Sniper because I use it and personally know it will fit the 5970 from actually measureing the clearance off of my 4870X2.
To get under or at your budget, consider selling the 8 GB of DDR2 at a later date. DDR2 prices are on the rise, you might be able to get a pretty penny out of those sticks.
Thank you so much mortonww.
I actually made a few mistakes on my post... Stupid iPod posting!!. I put a old 7950 GT in my PC for now just so I could use it for part searching. I meant to put 5870 not 5970. So that's minus ~$200. Also, I have a DVD-RW Dual Layer drive. I don't need one. So that's minus ~ $160
That makes your total $1,378.
I will probably not go to crossfire ever. So I changed that. By the time I upgraded (2 years), it would just be worth it to get a new generation card for what I do. So add that to only using a 5870 do I really need a 950 watt PSU? I do use a ton of USB devices, 3 HDDs and a DVD drive. However, I wouldn't imagine that would use much more power.
Is a Core i7 @ 2.6 better than the new AMDs at 3.4? Would the new AMDs handle the 5870 bandwidth? I couldn't imagine them not being able to. (I currently have a Core2 Quad @ 2.4 and I know it won't) I know that AMDs don't support DDR3's triple channel yet. However, what I have read shows very little improvement over DDR2. I NEED 8 gigs. Some of the files I work on require that much RAM.
Finally, even though I am contemplating going with AMD and that would require a different board. Wouldn't the size of the newer cards negate the 2 PCI slots on that board. I mean, I have seen the cards and it looks like it would cover at least one of them up lol.
I would imagine prices go up before Christmas. Am I correct in assuming that and will they go down shortly after?
Oh. Yeah, a balanced 5970 build under 1500 was a little bit of a challenge.
Here's a comparison of an AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE clocked at 3.4 GHz versus a core i7 920 clocked at 2.66 GHz. The i7 comes out the victor in almost all of the benchmarks (note, they switch from being "higher is better" to "lower is better" some times). And that's with a 700 MHz clock speed disadvantage.
Cards as fast as the 4870X2 (like the 5870) and the GTX 295 seem to be limited by the top-of-the-line AMD processor when compared to the i7 920's performance in the same game.
If you currently have a core 2 quad, moving to an Phenom II x4 won't really give you much benefit at all.
If you need 8 GBs, you should consider an i7-860 with 8 GB of DDR3. If you use 8 GB of DDR3 in an X58 setup, you'll be wasting bandwidth. I would definitely consider selling your 8 GBs of DDR2 and using DDR3 in the new build, though.
Your right. There is a difference. I could get by with 6gb DDR3 I think. I will look into the i7s and their memory. I remember I got all those dimms for $80 bucks new back about a year ago... your right, prices have risen...
I could probably also sell my old PSU, and maybe even my processor. I honestly never sell my used stuff, but why not. Maybe even sell my 8800 GTS G92 when I get it replaced via warranty.
I am going to select you as best answer. You mind if I PM you at a later time when I look more into some of the stuff if I need more advice?
One question I have right away is why i7-860 is the same price as the i7-920 when it outperforms it... Maybe just newegg prices I guess.
Both chips have their strong points and the performance is quite comparable. The 920 won't start to pull away from the 860 until you bring multi-GPU solutions into the mix. Otherwise, the benchmarks I have seen rate them fairly equally for single GPU setups.
The actual difference between the chips is that the 860 trades triple channel memory for lower power consumption and an integrated PCI-e 16x lane.
The other thing to take into account is that while the chips are the same price, the parts surrounding them are not. P55 motherboards are generally a bit cheaper than the x58 ones.
Will this setup be able to overclock the i7-920? I don't really want to massive overclock, but maybe something like 3.2-3.5ghz.
Also, I have been using power calculators, and all of them, besides eXtreme Power Supply Calculator seems to say that if I eventually go to Crossfire HD 5870s 950 watt will be bare minimum. Keep in mind that I use 3xSATA drives, 2x PCI cards (would goto 1 if I went to crossfire... because the cards are so big they would cover up the other PCI slots), and 8xUSB devices. I also probably would not upgrade to SLI for another 1-1.5 years and this PCs usage is basically 90%+ load 4-6 hours a day and 50%+ load another 6-8 hours a day. So I am wondering... will 950 be enough in 1.5 years if I goto crossfire? If not, should I just go with a 850 for now, and when I upgrade get a 1100 watt? I only ask this because I have no idea how accurate those calculators are. It seems most people use way less than they suggest.
The 5970 uses 300 watts at full load and stock speed, right? What about the 5870? is it like 200 or 150 Watts? Two of those would probably be more power consumption than a single 5970 so maybe 400 Watts? Plus 130 Watt CPU at full load? Then a couple DVD drives, a few fans and whatever pci cards you have. I think you'd be safe with a 950TX. The Corsair HX 1000 is $60 more. Maybe go for that.
Someone else can probably give a better recommendation, but to be safe, I'd say you are right to buy a Corsair 950 TX or the HX 1000 for crossfired 5870s.