I'm currently working on a new system to replace my old 2.4 GHz E6600 Conroe with a single NVidia 8800GT graphics card. I need to acquire at least two LCD monitors for the system which will need to be included in the total budget for the build.
Approximate Purchase Date: Now, but I could wait a month if an important hardware launch was impending that would drop prices noticeably. Last I checked no such launch was due. System Usage: Gaming (Supreme Commander 2, Starcraft 2, WoW, FEAR 2, Arkham Asylum in order of importance), occasional video work with .MTS video files from my home camcorder using whatever software I can find to do it one day. For now I just watch them using VLC. Parts Not Required: Mouse, Keyboard, Storage drives for mass data like videos, Speakers Preferred Websites: Newegg obviously, but open to anything that brings a decent deal. Parts Preferences: Things that won't explode. Overclocking: I've never attempted it before, but I would like to do some basic overclocking with this build to increase the overall price/performance ratio. Ease of use in this regard is highly appreciated, though I can follow instructions from an online guide as well as the next guy so it doesn't have to have Playskool simplicity either. Monitor Resolution: To be determined by whatever monitors I pick up. I really can't go smaller than a 24" screen due to watching anime with sometimes infuriatingly small subtitles. Additional Comments: The case will be a Lian Li PC-201B, ordered already but included in the parts list below. My budget target is to stay under $2,000 for the entire build including monitors.
As for my experience this will be my 4th PC build, I'm comfortable in the physical case but still reliant on guides for software issues (though I don't know if that really ever changes for anyone).
My first concern is that I'm already $360 over budget and haven't picked up a hard drive yet (or drives for RAID) that would be dedicated to only the highest performance games and operating system. I've read that SSD are the way to go for this, but I would probably need at least 60GB of storage and that pushes my budget even further out of balance.
My second concern is that I'm building an unbalanced system and that my overall speed will suffer despite the amount of money being thrown at this. I remember paying $660 for a pair of Nvidia 8800GTS cards only to have the newer architecture on cards that released a month later taking mine for a walk. It really stung to have a friend of mine build a $1200 machine a few months after I built my $2500 machine and watch as his beat mine to a pulp, and I'd really prefer not to repeat that experience, but it seems that's the way I'm headed at the moment. I've considered downgrading to an i5-750 and MSI P55-GD65 LGA 1156 Intel P55 board (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...), which would save about $175 just on the processor and mobo. If Intel plans on launching more chips in the future that could let me cost-justify the LGA 1366 board I'd really prefer not to have to tear the whole machine apart to do an upgrade down the road, but I also don't want to buy grossly more processor than anyone is coding games for and have wasted money on power that isn't being put to use.
Any help in refining this build list to better fit my budget would be appreciated.
SSDs are the highest in performance. However, since you're a gamer, you need at least 128 GB. SSDs hate to be anywhere near full, and to make them have any use at all, the programs (games) need to be installed on them. With a 60 GB SSD, considering that Windows 7 takes up about 16 GB, you'd have around 30 GB of free space. Otherwise known as 3-4 games. So if you only play 3-4 games (assuming they're under 8-10 GB per game), 60 GB is enough. If you play more than that, you need a bigger SSD. A 128 GB SSD will take about 8-10 games.
The main reason you're overbudget is that you bought a case that's over 3x more expensive than one of the best in the world (HAF 922). The other reason is that you're using the i7-920, which is a poor choice for gaming because of the price. To be honest, since you seem preoccupied with having a better computer than your friend, you should be prepared to drop closer to $2,500-$3,000 to get the best (and worst waste of money) as possible.
If you just wanted to have a great gaming PC, make the following changes.
CPU: i5-750 $195
Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $30
This will not be future proof. The 1156 socket will not be seeing better CPUs. That said, if you only game, you will not need to replace the board/CPU until you need to rebuild anyway.
I'm not requiring that my computer be better than my friend's machine since he has way more money and skill at building them than I do, it's not a fight I'd win anyway. I know the pace of upgrades usually makes any system go down in value pretty fast, it was just really shocking how quickly it happened when I bought my 8800GTS cards and I didn't want to make the same mistake if possible. I've never been completely sold on the i7-920 given the amount of room for overclocking on the i5-750, but I had read somewhere that the new 1366 chipset might be seeing significant releases and so it was my starting position when I was laying out parts.
I just want to be able to turn around in 6 months and not feel like a fool for the money I've spent, hence my coming to talk to people who know alot more about this than I do. :-)
The Lian Li case was purchased because my machine is hosting several hard drives shared on our home network for video storage, so I actually need the amount of hard drive expansion it provides. Also while it may seem a silly reason it's the only full tower case that's easily accessible without moving things around in my room. The removable side panel on most cases always seems to be on the other side.
Tech is always moving. If you're worried about the PC losing it's value in a few months, you would never build anything.
The upcoming changes are the 6 core CPUs. They should be out sometime in summer. No idea on the affect to prices, but it's likely that Intel's will be priced around $1,000+. Likely the other LGA1366 CPUs will be a lower price, but I doubt the i7-920 will be significantly lower.
In addition, nVidia's Fermi cards are due out in March (no word on an actual release date). No one really knows what will happen when these cards come out as no benchmarks have been released. In fact, very little real information has been released about them.