I am running an old system on a radeon 9600 pro, and will be building a new PC from scratch in the next 4 weeks. I have a query as to the best option available to me. I'll be using it for gaming and browsing on a 1900 x 1200 26 inch LCD. I don't plan on overclocking now, but may do in the future
My question is a) which will be better for gaming now (is 4GB enough for a 5870) and b) if I crossfire in the future will I be CPU/Ram limited on the Phenom setup? any general thoughts would be welcome. The core i7 option works out about £100 more expensive
Phenom II 965
ASUS Crosshair III
4GB of DDR3
The phenom will do great for gaming, and will be able to match that 5870 pretty well.
However, if you are planning to crossfire in the future, the i7 might be a better choice.
I'd probably go with the phenom, though (or perhaps an i5) as it is almist as good in single GPU gaming setups as the i7, it is cheaper and I've realized that my plans for crossfire/upgrades rarely work out as planned and also because I prefer to get maximum performance right now instead of maybe getting it in the future.
The phenom build is also cheaper.
Both builds will do fine, though. The Phenom build will probably be a little bit faster at gaming and the i7 will be faster at everything else.
I concur with RazberyBandit. If you can afford a 5850 or 5870, go for those. In regard to the CPU, maybe wait a few weeks and see what kind of performance the new AMD chips bring to the table. There have been a few engineering samples tested and the 6 core Thuban is just about on par with the i7-965; plus it planned to be quite affordable ($300 ish?). If you go ahead with building though, you may be able to find a decent deal on i7-930 (essentially the new variant of the 920)
Just to update, I didnt wait and went for a Phenm II 965 with a 5870. Runs like a dream and has no problem driving my 26 inch monitor at full value. I'm glad I didnt wait for the 6 cores, as it would make very little (if any) difference to my usage