The last computer I built from scratch was in a 386sx in 1994 from spare parts so I could play Wing Commander 1 and Mech Warrior 1 without screwing with my main computer's BIOS. (amazing how puberty's onset can change one's interests from building computers).
I'm taking the plunge with a mid-range system and could use some advice for parts. Total system budget including OS is $1400-$1700 after all discounts and rebates.
There will be some light overclocking once I get comfortable with the setup. The plan is air cooled at first and possibly a switch to water later. My preference is for a full tower case to more easily accommodate larger cards and just for general ease of setting things up.
Proposed Parts List
Chip Intel i7-930
Motherboard ASUS P6X58D Premium
Hard Drive A pair of SATA drives I happen to have lying around
OS Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit (Retail buy)
The parts I need help picking
RAM 6 Gigs of Any DDR3 1600 preferably at CAS 7 Please Help!
Video Card Any reliable 5770 Please Help!
Power Supply Corsair TX 750 or Antec TP750 Blue or ABS DB850 or any similar post discount/rebate PSU that's about $100 Please Help!
Case No clue whatsoever, Please Help!
I know I'm splurging on the motherboard, but I want it to be both reliable and SATA III / USB 3.0 native for next year's parts including a solid state drive to act as the new boot disk. Similarly, I wanted the i7-9xx chip because I want tri-channel RAM. Also, would I really notice much of an improvement by spending the extra $150 to go from a 5770 to a 5850 on when the games I will most likely be playing are Civ IV and, when it comes out, CIV V? I want this system to last until the Haswell chips come out.
As a final followup question, if I was going to completely blow out my budget by an extra $700, would it be better invested in video cards or a i7-980x?
Not sure if you should reconsider your mobo, but do so for the CPU. The i7 920 is much better from a value-for-money standpoint.
I'm not sure I understand about the i7-920 being better value for money. $285~ for a 2.66GHz chip vs. $294 for a 2.80 GHz chip seems like the i7-930 would be the better buy. As far as I know, the Tiger Direct sale on i7-920's for about 250 is long over.
What exactly are you planning to do with the computer? A workhorse build would look completely different from a gaming build at that budget.
You may also want to check out the guidelines (link in my signature). We really need more information to help you.
My present machine is a slightly enhanced Dell Precision 470 workstation with an old 2.8 GHz Xeon Nocona chip, 3 gigs of ECC ram, and a Fire GL V3100 card. I bought it new years ago because it was subsidized by my then employer and a Dell pricing error listed it for half price which Dell was still willing to honor.
The build is ostensibly a self tutorial on building a computer with new parts. After that in theory it will become a gaming for new and newish games such as Starcraft II or Civ V. Though I'll probably still just end up running series of highly cpu intensive rounds of Freecell.
Going strictly by your display guidelines
Purchase Time - Less than a week from now / Budget Range 1400-1700 after all applicable combos, discounts, and rebates
Usage - Moderate Gaming
Parts not required - keyboard, mouse, speakers (the same ones have lasted me since '98), monitor (dude... I got a dell), hard drive
Preferred Website - None, I'll shop with whomever has the best deal
Country of Origin - USA
Parts Preference - No brand loyalty
Overclocking - Eventually / SLI - Eventually
Monitor Resolution - 1920 x 1080
Presents parts I've settled on
Chip i7-930 (combo deal with board)
Board Asus P6X58D Premium
OS Windows 7 Ultimate (Retail buy)
I could use help and recommendations with the parts below
Yes, sorry I forgot to include a generic $25~ in my list I would be buying one.
I take it you feel the timing differences between 7-8-7-24 and 7-7-7-20 are negligible?
For the case it seems like every forum I go to is split between the Haf 922 and the Antec Twelve Hundred. I was only going with the Antec PSU because of the overall combo with the case. Otherwise, the Corsair PSU was one of my original choices.
The Rosewill cooler was the one used in the Tom's Hardware system builds, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The writers for the system builder articles wouldn't actually stoop to schilling coolers would they?
When it comes to the video card, do you think the prices will come down when NVidia reveal there 490 series at the end of the week? 5770 to 5850 was a big enough leap, but now I'd be spending more on the video card then the processor. If I was going to that route I might as well say screw the budget and get the i7-980x. As an aside, would you get the i7-980x, all things considered?
I wouldn't pay extra for a 7-7-7 set than a 7-8-7 set, if that's what your asking.
The Antec 1200 is a good case. However, it's also fairly expensive at $160, especially when the cheaper HAF is larger.
I don't particularly like the SBM builds. I think they use a lot of questionable choices (two 48xx GPUs, really?). The Hyper 212 Plus was found to be the among the best HSF out there, and was the only one under $50ish. That's why I recommend it.
I have no idea if prices will change. It would be likely IF the new cards are any good. However, nVidia is typically more expensive anyway, so it might not have any affect.
As for spending more on the GPU, that's actually not that uncommon, especially in higher end build. After all, if you get the 5850, you're already spending more for the GPU than the CPU. Besides, unless I'm mistaken, you're spending about the same on all the parts with my changes as you were before.
I wouldn't touch the i7-980 with a 100-foot pole. You wouldn't see any major benefit for doubling your budget.