First, I wanted to say what an excellent resource these forums have been for me. The guides are great. I only wish I had found something similar before attempting my first build a couple of years ago!
Basically what I am looking to do is update my system in the least costly manner (which doesn't mean I am not looking to spend $$$ on what I do upgrade). What I am really wondering is how many of my components I can reuse while still getting a system that I can game with for the next two years?
In the "Parts Not Required" section I will give a run down of my current system components.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next two months. BUDGET RANGE: $800-$1200
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Movies, Internet
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: Asus, Intel, G.Skill
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION:1440 x 900 and 1920 x 1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Video card must have an HDMI output as the 1920x1080 monitor mentioned above is actually my plasma TV. I would also prefer a video card with DirectX 11 capabilities.
I am thinking that the easy way to upgrade the system would be to get a better video card and maybe try my hand at overclocking my CPU. I wasn't sure how compatible some of the newer cards would be with my system/motherboard, but any suggestions would be appreciated.
A new GPU is no issue, I suggest the ATI 5XXX series, probably a 5850 or 5870. They are Direct X 11 compatible, have Eyefinity if you want more than one screen and they have an HDMI output.
I would buy a new cooler for your CPU - Hyper212+ is good but appears to be very overpriced now, so may want to get another. I believe this site did great reviews on a number of them.
With the new cooler I would then OC your Quad CPU and then you should be fine for a lot longer with no need to get new CPU, Mobo and RAM (which will eventually be what you aim for)
With a good GPU and an OC'd Quad 6600 you should find you play games at high settings at 1920 x 1080 for a long while
2. Do you think this is a card that will be available still in a few years? I am thinking when I do my next upgrade (CPU, MOBO, etc) maybe I could just pick up another one of these cards for a CrossFire Setup. Does that make sense?
As far, as OCing my CPU, you are right I do have the stock fan, so that will be an upgrade I will have to consider. shovenose, thanks for the links. Not sure I am ready to attempt a liquid cooling system so any other recommendations would be appreciated.
The main difference in brand can be their customer service. XFX is very popular due to their double lifetime warranty and excellent customer service. But in general they are pretty much the same - I have had Powercolor, XFX, Sapphire and have had no issue with any brand. However, if cost difference is not significant I would edge towards XFX
If using 1920 x 1080 resolution avoid the 5770, it is a good card but it is also a budget card and at that resolution it is at its limit now, OCing would help extend its life but when you decide to upgrade the CPU mobo and RAM you will be needing to replace your card again too.
The 5850 is a great choice and is popular for a reason. You should have little difficulty getting another one when you want to XFire. The 5850 can also be OC'd to near 5870 performance and you may find by the time you feel the need to XFire you would actually like to buy one of the next generation cards out at that time instead.
Just one more note on the GPU and variations of them - don't be spending extra on the card just because it is a little 'sexed up' and be aware that the XFX 5870 is only $389.99, so buying something like a Sapphire Toxic 5850 card at $349.99 + shipping is not really worth it when you can just get the 5870 for very little more.
I would go for the asus directcu version as it make overclocking easier because it has voltage control, but they are out of stock right now. The cheaper toxic edition is also out of stock sadly. The best deal that is still in stock is the msi. It has better cooling and is one of the cheapest.
Any other advice/recommendations on a heatsink? The Cool Master Hyper212+ seems to be out of stock at every retailer. I checked out FrostyTech for the its recommendations, but the top ten look a little large, most around 160-165mm, which I am not sure will fit in my case. I don't really want to buy something and have to return it because it doesn't fit.
Actually judging by the reviews the MSI cools worse than stock but is quieter. It apparently also Overclocks badly.
The Asus one is a nice looking card though.
Good to know. Since you're not in a rush to upgrade your system then you should wait for either the toxic or the directcu version. The hyper 212+ has a height of 158.5cm so most of frostytechs top 10 should fit. You can always google your case plus the heatsink to see if they fit.