It's been a good 6 or 7 years since I built my last rig, and since then I have become frighteningly rusty. The time has come though, for me to build another, as "old faithful" finally died on me. It's amazing all the new stuff that can come out in that short a period of time. At this point, it's not worth trying to salvage it... it's time to look to the future.
I've been doing non-stop research over the past week or so, scouring Tom's HW, Newegg reviews, etc. and my head is literally spinning now. I have changed this potential configuration a dozen or more times, trying to find the "sweet spot" between performance, cost, and of course, compatibility. I'm hoping you guys can help to either validate or improve this tentative build. My big sticking point is the video card... more about that at the bottom of my thread...
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP BUDGET RANGE: ~$1000 before rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming / Movies / Surfing / Work (MS Office)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD Build, Mid-Tower - see below for specifics
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (eventually) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (eventually)
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Quiet is nice, but not mandatory. I have listed some specific questions below...
From what I can tell, people tend to recommend the 5870's or 5850's, if at all possible. I am struggling with sacrificing on the other areas, despite the fact that the video card is what gaming is going to be all about. Any recommendations on how I can squeeze an extra $200 or so from the other areas without sacrificing too much (and without jeopardizing compatibility and future growth opportunities)? The build above (including the 5770) runs $995 with shipping.
Another option would be to just deal with the 5770 for now, possibly Cross-firing it as a next step, and then, if need be, upgrade to something heftier at a later time. Thoughts?
The CAS Latency of 7 is preferable, however, make sure your board will run it at 1600.(check with Gigabyte and G.Skill forums) Most RAM is designed for the 1156/1366 Intel chipset. I had issues getting my RAM to run at rated timings on my 790XTA-UD4.
And even that doesn't save you enough to upgrade to a 5850 (or even a 5830). So, provided your budget is fixed, I would say you will be quite happy with the build and it's upgradability. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Thanks so much for the helpful (and quick!) responses...
I suspected there might be some recommendations around the case and the mobo... in light of your suggestions, here are my current thoughts:
Case... My last two cases were Lian Li's and I do like them, but I'm not married to them. One reason I selected the Lian Li case (besides being a make I'm familiar with and a nice design) is that it's part of a combo with the Samsung Spinpoint 1TB drive ($40 discount on the two together). Still, even with the $40 combo savings, the Lian Li is $40 more than the HAF 922. My only real concern with the HAF 922 is the lack of dust filtering. I guess I have to decide whether saving $40 is worth having to clean my case out more frequently. If it means the difference between a 5770 and a 5850, I guess it is! ;-)
Mobo... Jbakerlent -- you mentioned the 790X board. It's funny, because that's where I originally started looking. I was originally looking at this Gigabyte 790X board which has USB 3.0 support (I should have mentioned wanting USB 3.0 in my original post). But when I realized that it's only $15 less than the 890GX board, I figured, why not go with the 890GX? The 890GX should be more future-proof, right? Also, it looks like I would be able to enable a "hybrid crossfire" setup using the 890GX's on-board GPU. I need to do more research on it, but it sounds like that could give me an additional boost since I only plan to install one video card (for now).
You also pointed out the Ripjaws series memory. Unfortunately, that model is not on the QVL for the Gigabyte mobo I selected, so unless I want to stray off the reservation, I would either need to find another mobo that has USB 3.0 support and supports this RAM, or just stick with RAM that is on the QVL. I found a supported G.Skill model that costs less than both the ECO and the Ripjaws, though the latency is slightly higher, at 8. I don't expect that will be a big problem, though.
So... after additional research and the incorporation of some of your helpful suggestions, I have come up with the revised build below, which comes out to about $1060 - slightly over budget, but I got to keep the 890GX board while managing to upgrade to a 5850 video card. I greatly appreciate any additional suggestions you all might have...