I've been reading these forums on and off for the last month or two, preparing for my own system build. Here's what I came up with:
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 1-2 weeks
BUDGET RANGE: $1800-2000
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Graphic Design (Photoshop), Programming, Music/Movies
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg
PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU
OVERCLOCKING: Possibly some light overclocking
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Possibly, depending on what the graphics card market looks like in the coming months. The idea is to get 1 5870 now, and maybe another later
MONITOR RESOLUTION: I plan to use 2x 24" 1920x1200, where 1 would be running a game and the other have a web browser and other apps open.
1) First of all, does everything look ok? Are there any recommendations as far as parts go? I can go a little higher as far as budget goes if there is performance to be gained.
2) Regarding RAM: I intend to get 6gb now, and 6 more later for a total of 12 (I do a good amount of Photoshop and graphics work at high resolutions, and often have many things open at once). My question is, is adding more RAM simply a matter of buying another 3 sticks and plugging them in? Is there anything I have to consider? I plan to use the same timings and probably even the same manufacturer, but was wondering if there was anything else to worry about.
3) I remember reading at some point that the full tower cases like the 932 need extension cables of some kind (I'm guessing power supply) since provided cables sometimes aren't long enough to reach some of the components. Is this a realistic problem, and if so, what specific cables should I be looking for?
4) Regarding cooling: Is there anything I need other than the items listed (except of course thermal compound)? Should I get additional case fans? What about when/if I do some light overclocking and get a second 5870 GPU?
Thats alot of wattage for a single 5870. You could drop down to a 750TX and still run two 5870s.
All the parts you have chosen are quality.
In theory the two banks are separate so it should work. Having the same model or at least same timings is probably a good idea for stability.
You might need an extension for the power supply 24pin and 8pin power cables to the motherboard to be able to route them out of your airflow paths. You can do that later once you are sure you need them.
With a 932 you will not need extra case fans until you get lots more internals.
I would consider adding a cheap video card for your second monitor, like a 3450 to take load off the gaming monitor. I did, and it works fine.
For a fine system like this, consider a SSD for the OS and frequently played games. Intel X25-M gen2 at 80gb or 160gb is great.
I understand that CS4 responds well to lots of ram. If you plan on 12gb of ram, it is better to get a 12gb kit up front. Kits are made up of compatible sticks that are guaranteed to operate properly together. The manufacturing of ram sticks can vary from run to run, even with the same vendor and part number, and that can sometimes cause problems if you add ram later.
Quality PSU's will come with sufficiently long cables. The longest reach will be the 8-pin cpu cable. You can buy an extension, they are cheap, but it is probably not needed. I did, and I did not need it for my PC P&C silencer 610 to reach, even hidden behind the mobo on a Antec 902. Worst case, you run it across the motherboard temporarily.
Your case comes with all the fans you need. The Antec cases I mentioned will also have sufficient fans.
Get a tube of as5 or mx2. For assembly, get a #2 phillips screwdriver about 6" long. I find a magnetic tip to be very useful getting the standoff screws in place. Just be careful where you put it.
Download and read the motherboard and case manuals ahead of time. You will get a good idea of what is involved.
Everything else looks solid - with the exception of your tower (mine's the HAF 922), we'll have pretty much identical builds once I upgrade my GPU.
Also, ditto to what cblaxx19 said - if you are a college student, or know someone that is, you can snag Windows 7 Pro for a huge discount. It used to be $30 for Win 7 Home Premium, but now it's $65 for Win 7 Pro, either 32- or 64-bit. Check out http://www.microsoft.com/student/discounts/theultimates...
As far as the PSU goes, it is a bit overkill but I want to not worry about it for a while, especially if the GPU landscape changes this summer. Plus I will probably end up with a number of hard drives and other things in there, so I figured I'd get the bigger one.
I'll check out the CL7 RAM - one question however: I've read that the taller heatsinks on those things sometimes interfere with cooling systems... is this a concern in my case? It seems like that CoolerMaster cooler wouldn't go near the RAM, but I can't really tell without actually seeing it assembled. Anyone have experience with this?
Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The WD Black 2 TB is a good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons at the link below (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum) and see which one works best for your specific tasks.: