APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Today through the end of February (pending any new hardware on the immediate horizon, updates or price drops on current hardware)
BUDGET RANGE: $900-$1200
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: *Multiple programs running at once (e.g. CS4 + firefox, safari, chrome, IE + iTunes + Adium (or another chat program) + uTorrent + Coda, CSSEdit, Espresso, Textmate, etc.* With that being said, the most important is Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash, etc. -> Gaming: Mass Effect 2 is coming out, and other exciting next-gen games. -> Web design and coding programs -> web surfing and general email.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers. I have two Silverstone 560W power supplies on hand, I'd like to use one if the rig I'm building doesn't require more power. I also have an ATI 4870 1GB video card I can use as well.
PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel processor, 8 gigs of ram, large storage capacity.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050² (I have dual monitors)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have been planning a new build that incorporates parts that are "hackintosh friendly." I've been following posts made on insanelymac.com and infinitemac.com to try to flush out the best platform to build a dual boot OS X and Windows 7 Work / Play machine. I use lots of creative productivity software, Adobe Creative Suite for example. I also have been known to edit films in Final Cut / Premiere, create music in Garage Band, and I game a fair bit as well. When I posted in the title "Best bang for your buck," what I mean by that is that I don't want the excessive price of an item to outweigh its relative performance capabilities compared to other closely related and available components. For example, the debate between the i5 750, i7 860, and i7 920 - I have been torn between the three processors and trying to research as much as I can the benefits and drawbacks of each. They are all similarly priced now (189 for the i5, 229 for the i7's at microcenter.com), however the different platforms will adjust the price of the corresponding components (memory, in particular of the i7 920). I have a 560 watt Silverstone power supply that I can use, as well as an ATI 4870 1GB video card. In using these parts, I would be able to budget a higher cost for the rest of the components.
Below is what I have picked out and priced out over the last week, any and all feedback, suggestions, and opinions would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I'd suggest the ASUS P7P55D-E Pro, which is only $20 more than the Gigabyte and has the new SATA III and USB 3.0 ports. The Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is a GREAT cooler for $35, which will almost definitely fit with your needs (some people have gotten the i5-750 to 4GHz+, I have no data on the i7). The HDD could be switched out for the Samsung F3 Spinpoint which is faster (albeit not by much) and a bit cheaper (~$10), but if you can't find it then the 7200.12 is a great choice as well. Finally you could probably find a cheaper DVD burner, maybe closer to $25. They're all virtually perfect quality anyways these days.
I have been an ASUS fanboy for many years, however Gigabyte has surprised me with their quality, and in some people's opinion, surpassed ASUS in terms of quality. Now, with that being said, the main draw to the Gigabyte board is the out-of-the-box compatibility for installing OS X. I will do some research on how well the ASUS P7P55D-E Pro holds up in that regard, thank you for the recommendation.
In regards to the Seagate HD, I suppose I am one of the lucky ones who missed out on the Seagate dead-drive-epidemic not too long ago. I have 4 1TB Seagate drives, 7200.9's 7200.10's, and 7200.11's. However, I'm not a fanboy. I'll do some looking into the Samsung drives, after all, I love their TV's lol!
I'm curious about the 560 watt power supply. I'm hoping that it will be enough power, and I want to know what other's opinions are about the power that rig with a single video card and single hard drive will need.
Additionally, I'm also looking at a small SSD system drive, any thoughts to real world performance increase compared to the costs?
560W will be enough to power your system as long as it stays a single GPU rig. As for the SSD, I have trouble advising people to get them just because they're so darned expensive right now and are still new technology. From what I've read they work best only when they're half full, meaning that if you get an 80GB SSD, you should only be using 40GB, which (IMO) cuts the value in half. I suggest you wait until the technology is more developed and the prices come down a bit before going SSD.
They aren't cheap, but at the same time, you can get a nice 40GB intel X25-V for $129.99 or a 30GB Vertex for $104.99 after MIR
These prices put them into the range of recommendable considering the incredible performance difference.
I'd suggest the ASUS P7P55D-E Pro, which is only $20 more than the Gigabyte and has the new SATA III and USB 3.0 ports...
I've been looking at that board but read some reviews on Newegg and couple of other sites that the board emits a "high pitched noise" while running... do you think it is an issue or just overly sensitive users?
Hmm...Well it sounds like it could be an issue, and based off of some reading I did it looks like it might have just been a bad batch of motherboards, but I don't really know if it's been fixed or not. From what I see this noise isn't reported by any review sites (just random people who have bought the board) so I don't really know what to say to that. If you are really worried about something like that happening you could always opt for a different manufacturer, or you could get it and if there's something wrong it seems like ASUS is being nice and letting people return it for a full refund.
My problem is that I'm traveling to the US and plan on buying a couple of components there, so if it turns out noisy when I get back home it will be an issue... only other alternative is P55A-UD4P but 3.0 features aren't implemented as well there...
Thanks for all of the responses. I just placed my order, and I feel I'll be very happy with the results.
I changed to the Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard drive, the Cooler Master 212 plus, and I added in a Samsung DVD burner with lightscribe. I looked at both the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5, the GA-P55A-UD4P, and the ASUS P7P55D-E Pro. I decided to go with the Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5. I'm looking forward to putting it all together, overclocking it, and playing with it soon!