Gaming PC Build

Aighty, this is going to take me a little to get 100% completed, as it's a few questions, but I'll get the basics up now:

Part 1: Parts Summary

This will be posted tomorrow via edit (sorry, it's almost 2 am, we just got 14 inches of snow and it isn't done, and I have 4 driveways to do tomorrow morning, lol)

Part 2: Case Conundrum

I'm looking for a good mid tower case. I'm thinking the Antec 900 or Antec 902, or possibly the Thermaltake Armor MX. I would love to go with an Antec 1200 or a Thermaltake Spedo, except that my desks PC cavity limits that. In any event, I need a case that works well with water cooling.

Part 3: Water Cooling

I've NEVER done this before... I'm looking at liquid cooling the entire rig, and using a rear mounted tri-radiator to exhaust heat. The reason for this is my desk has a sweet way to hide the PC, and has good airflow, but a perfect exhaust port out the rear. My previous PC was loud as a jet engine, and I've always wanted to try liquid cooling.

I need a few good, helpful guides for newcomers (so much of what I've found is all advanced stuff that leaves me going bwu-huhwha?) as well as some info for whats required:

Tank - duh
Pump(s) - more than one?
Flow Meter / Temp Sensor - good/bad idea?
Tubing - duh
CPU/GPU water blocks - figure these are the staples
North Bridge / South Bridge waterblocks - important if I'm going with near-zero air cooling?
RAM/HD coolers - again, with little to no airflow, are these going to need cooled?
PSU cooler - I've seen a few... wtf and do I need to worry about this?
Sound Card cooler - do these even exist?

Looking at what I've seen, it seems a hybrid liquid system for the heat intensive stuff (CPU, GPU, NB/SB, and RAM) with some basic air cooling for the HD's, PSU, and the like is best - true/false? How do I determine what kind of thermal capacity I need?

Part 4 - Overall Build Quality

my previous PC build lasted me almost 7 years... she was a beauty of a beast, built around an AMD Opteron 148, two gigs of OCZ DDR Platinum ram, and a Radeon 9600, eventually upgraded to a BFG 7900gt. She worked well, but recent games have worn her out, and last month she breathed her last as the video card died and took the PCI slot (and thus, the motherboard) unceremoniously with it.I want this one to last at LEAST a few years - I dont' need it to run the games 5 years from now at 100% maxxed settings... so long as it does a decent job, I'm happy.

Questions along this route:

USB 2.5 / 3.0 - is this out yet? Available? How expensive?
PCI-E 2.1 / 3.0 - again, I have heard of it, but not seen it. When, where, how much? Worth the wait?
AM3 - should I go for it, or wait for the next platform? (yes, I'm going with AMD... I like AMD and know AMD... don't try to sway me to Intel, I'm really not interested)
Crossfire - should I save up a lil extra and go with 2 video cards? Or would one hold me for now and then upgrade later?

Thank you all in advance - I will be back tomorrow to update the thread with a parts list + links to parts yet unpurchased, as well as my specific questions about parts... and also to re-read and fix the numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes that no doubt exist in this post as a result of me posting at nearly 2am after being up around 36 hours straight... lol...
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  1. Well, for the liquid cooling you have in mind you really should consider a full tower case. You will get by with a larger mid tower case but with everything going on inside with liquid cooling its going to be really cramped. I have the 902 and its not exactly made for liquid cooling, at least not Real liquid cooling. The HAF 922 is ugly as hell but it has enough room for a Real liquid cooling system. Also, the Coolermaster Storm Sniper is a great mid tower liquid cooling case that will fit any video card.

    Unless you really know what you are doing I suggest buying an entire kit from a reputable liquid cooling manufacturer like Swiftech or Dangerden. I would go with Swiftech personally but they are both solid. This is the kit I would buy: H20-220 Ulitma XT. Type in in your search engine and that should bring you to the home page. Then just follow this: homepage/liquid cooling/cooling kits. The site restricts copying links so just follow the little directions there. That kit will work on any new AMD or Intel platform so no worries.

    I would hold off on planning for GPU blocks unless you are going to be using 4890/GTX285. I'm not sure if they have released the waterblocks for the ATi 5000 series cards yet since they are brand new, probably not.

    I'm not entirely sure whats going on with USB 3.0. I've read some things online suggesting that when using USB 3.0 it will restrict other elements on your motherboard. Not sure if its true but I would Google it if I were you. PCI-E 2.1 is available but I wouldn't pay extra for it seeing how Intel users on 1156 platform seem to be getting along just fine with high end graphic cards with only 8x8x dual card bandwidth.

    AM3 is the way to go if you are not concerned with CPU benchmark statistics. I'm using a PII X4 955 and can do everything there is to do but if you must save 1-3 minutes of your life while rendering a 15 minute video into 1080p maybe Intel's platforms will appeal to you [:bohleyk] AMD has spread the word that AM3 is also going to be sticking around until at least 2011 and I'm thinking maybe a year after.

    If you are thinking about Crossfire I would take into account what video card you are going to buy. Right now, If you are going to buy a 5870 I would say no. If you are thinking about a 5770, then yes. When DX11 games start becoming mainstream products I'm pretty sure the 5700 series cards are going to need Crossfire to keep High settings at higher frame rates.
  2. Well, I had been planning on going with the following hardware:

    Already Purchased:
    OCZ Vertex 60 gig SSD (OS and active HD)
    2x WD Caviar Black HD's (primary drive and storage)

    To Buy:
    Sapphire Radeon HD 5850
    ASUS Crosshair III Formula AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD MoBo
    CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC PSU
    OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

    Case is still semi-undecided. I REALLY want the Antec 1200... it's so awesome... so is the Thermaltake Armor+... both look like their just made for liquid cooling... problem is, neither of them fits into my desk's enclosure, lol... and I don't know where else I'd put it. Maybe I could cut/grind the desk to fit... but I don't know for certain.

    As for liquid cooling - are the pre-fabbed sets really any good? I've read a lot of people saying you're better off making your own. It seems simple enough, but that's what concerns me. How would I figure out things like:

    Strength of pump(s) needed
    Amount of reservoir space needed
    Number of Radiators needed

    Other than that, it seems like simply selecting the blocks that fit your parts.
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