SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 3D Animation, Illustrating in Photoshop, Gaming
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: None, really.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A friend of mine who is a freelance 3D Animator/Illustrator asked me to help him put together a new system. I built myself a mid-range gaming PC back in late 2007, but haven't kept up with the latest hardware since then. I've picked most of the components already, but I would like to get some feedback on what I've thrown together. I have no idea about which power supply to purchase.
I had a really hard time choosing between a Core i7-860 and a Core i7-920. I went with the 860 based on the benchmarking articles I found on this site, but I still feel like my choice was a random pick between the two. When putting together the components, I started out by determining what processor I wanted, then motherboard, then RAM, and the rest fell into place from there. Once my friend has some more money, he'll get a second 8 gig RAM kit.
I don't do this often, but I'm going to have to disagree with MadAdmiral's statement that "both the 930 and 920 would be drastically faster than the 860". The i7 930 and the i7 860 both run at 2.8GHz at stock speed, but the 860 has a more aggressive turbo mode. The max turbo speed for the 930 is 3.06GHz, while the max turbo speed for the 860 is 3.46GHz.
Note that gaming and 3D animation basically require two different approaches to GFX card design....what is good for one is bad for the other. Animation and rendering generally calls for workstation card like the FX 580.
If your pal thinks his rendering usage will be minimal and doesn't need a rendering card, the 5770 is a good choice, however it must be noted that the ATI 5xx series cards suffer from a 2D Graphics problem which will seriously affect performance in Illustrator, AutoCAD and things like that. ATI reports that they will fix this in the 10.4 driver release. If gong ATI, you might wanna wait to see how this shakes out.
if you don't need triple channel RAM, crossfire or sli, higher speed of SATA3 and USB 3.0, just go for 860. It is much better than 920 in most rendering jobs since it has higher clock rates.
The differences between the two are only the use of chipset and clock speed. X58 handles SLI, Crossfire, SATA3 and USB 3.0 better than P55.