This will be my first build, and I would like some opinions on the parts I've planned on, and some I'm not sure about. Thanks!
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: CPU possibly this weekend, rest of the parts in early February.
BUDGET RANGE: Around $1800
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, email, & internet on Windows 7 Home Premium. Later on - DVD encoding (Roxio, Nero, etc), MS Office.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, but will buy a newer one in the future. There are some other parts that I don’t have yet (keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc). But they’re inexpensive, and I’m not so worried about choosing them.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Microcenter for the CPU, and possibly a future LCD. Frozencpu.com for a heatsink & fan. Most likely Newegg for the rest.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: Don’t really have a preference as to brand, this will be my first build.
OVERCLOCKING: Very possible
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not immediately.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: Current CRT is 1024x768. In the future (hopefully this year), I plan to buy a 1680x1050 LCD, possibly higher.
1) My foremost reason for picking the parts below is for gaming, in particular Neverwinter Nights 2. I’m an RPG guy. There are other games I plan to play……BG I/II, Icewing Dale, NWN, and possibly Dragons Age Origins, but I’m pretty sure that NWN2 is the most demanding of them. Since I found out that this game wasn’t well optimized, I’ve done a lot of research on the internet, looking for posts of people reporting frame rates and the hardware they are using. I’ve chosen the hardware on that basis.
2) From the posts I’ve read, it seems that everyone who reports really good frame rates have overclocked their CPU, regardless of what it is, somewhere between 3.2 to 4.2 Ghz. The only CPU I couldn’t find any posts for with this game was the i5 750. Also, I only found one person who posted really high frame rates, using AA (4x), with a single card, and it was a 5870.
3) One concern I have about the 5870 that I chose.......can anyone tell me if it will fit into the HAF 932 case, or will I need a bigger case?
4) I have read a lot of posts about the i5 750 being better for gaming with a single card than the i7 920. However, I’ve also read that the i7 920 with Crossfire or SLI beats the i5 with a similar setup. I decided on the i7 920/5870 combination for the possibility that, in the future, I may want to play games at 1920x1200, or higher. I’d like to try with a single GPU first, as it seems to be a consensus that gaming with a single GPU is always the better way, when possible.
5) Another reason I chose the i7 920 is that I’ve read that it’s much easier to overclock a 920 D0 to 4 Ghz than it is to overclock a 750 to the same. As I’ve never done any overclocking before, and this will be my very first build, I thought the 920 D0 would be the safer router to go.
6) There are two different memory models from the same manufacturer listed. They are both the same speed, but one has better timings, which I would prefer. However, that model also has heat spreaders, and I read on the newegg reviews that some people had a hard time installing the memory, or couldn’t install at all, in the slot nearest the CPU if they also had a large, aftermarket heatsink and fan installed.
7) Could anyone vouch for the quality of the onboard sound on the motherboard I chose? I’m not looking for a cinematic sound experience, just decent sound. I plan to buy an inexpensive 2.1 speaker kit, probably for around $40 +/- $10.
8) I would like to know if the PSU make/model listed below would be sufficient for the GPU I chose, even if I want to add another for Crossfire in the future.
9) I’m starting off with a 500GB hard drive. That should be more than enough for the games I want to play, and I don’t do a lot of media encoding or rendering, maybe 2-4 DVD’s a year. I can add more later.
10) If anyone could advise of something better (i.e. one brand having a better rep than another, bad first hand experience with hardware listed, etc), I will definitely take it into consideration.
CPU Heatsink/Fan: Not sure yet. I was looking at the Prolimatech Megahalems on newegg, and the Cooler Master V8 on frozencpu.com, but would like to get some suggestions before deciding, keeping into consideration the RAM I wanted to use.
Onboard sound: All of the onboard sound controllers today are fine for non-audiophiles.
Ram height vs HSF: This is typically only an issue if you populate the entire 6x dimms with ram. That being said certain boards (Gigabytes lower end models and Foxconn boards) tend to really shove the dimm sockets too close to the cpu socket. The Asus you have selected is fine.
PSU: Go up the the 850w. The 750w will oc the 920 and run a single 5870 fine, but if you crossfire you'll be pushing right at the edge of the 750w range.
Case: Haf 932 is a monster. MONSTER. While it's not quite in the same league as say the Corsair 800d in terms of size it'll easy fit the 5870, even the 5970.
HSF: PM are spectacular. They have been trumped in the past few months by two different coolers though. Noctua NH-D14 and Thermalright Venomous-X. The Noctua is 85$ but it comes with 2 great Noctua fans. The Venomous-X is the new TRUE that's been pre-lapped and has a new pressure mounting system. As it stands right now Venomous-X appears to be the king of air cooling.
My opinion is that if your going to be running those games on that resolution, that you won't see too much difference with the 5870 over the 5850. I also think the s1366 based system is quite expensive. I'm not sure what price your getting the i7 920 at, but even the AMD PhII x4 955 will do quite well with the 5870 or 5850 for about $250 less than the i7 920 w/your mobo. For the maximum gaming performance for the $, your better off with the best GPU that you can afford with a quality CPU (doesn't have to be the fastest one you can afford).
The s1366 based systems do better than the s1156 based systems when you do X-fire/SLI. I think it's somewhere around 5-20%, depending on the game/benchmark. I do think the s1366 based system will be around longer than the s1156 based systems. So that is a plus in my book. I think the 6 core CPU coming out will only be for the i7 (s1366) based mobo's.
I would rather see you buy a little less CPU and put that extra $ into more GPU and/or more monitor. This would allow you $ to upgrade to a larger LCD (which will last you several system upgrades, generally).
I am using the same mobo, CPU and HSF as you're considering, namely the Prolimatech Megahalems, and can tell you that as long as you're only using 1 kit of ram there will be no clearance issue.
As a4mula is saying, Thermalright have come out with a new HSF in Venemous X, and it has been making waves around forums, but I have yet to see a tech site review it, but it would be another to consider, personally I find the Noctua NH-D14 to be too massive.