Good news is here, I have a job and a bonus coming down the pipeline, so I get my new computer. I've done plenty of Frankenstein-style upgrades, swaps, rebuilds, but I haven't had my hands in case in about 2 years, and I've never done one from the ground up. I'm rapidly absorbing as much information as I can from various places, but I thought I'd toss my potential parts up here and make sure I haven't missed anything horribly obvious in terms of bottlenecks, compatibility, etc.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 2-3 weeks BUDGET RANGE: I'd like to top out at $1000
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, I've got working Mac and Windows laptops that meet my media, etc. needs
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, keyboard, speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com, I'm in the US.
Case: Antec 900 - Any thoughts on the value of this case over say an Antec 300? My thought was better case = less chance for me to screw up the cooling with silly fan placement.
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 5770 - I've dug into some video card reviews and I'm pretty happy with the performance/cost ratio on this one. I play mostly WoW, Dragon Age, and other assorted RPGs, but I'd like to get into the graphics intensive Far Cry/Crysis stuff on my own box again. I'm thinking solid performance at high settings at 1680x1050 would be a good balance.
CPU: Intel Core i3-530 - If I'm not going to overclock initially, how is the stock cooler?
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W - By the calculator I found on this site, this should be plenty of juice for this setup. Do I need to bump it up at all to allow for the moderate possibility that I'll want to overclock?
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1600 2x2GB - From what I've read, this is a good bang for the buck deal on memory, any reason why I would need to push it to 6GB?
Monitor: No earthly idea... At this point, I've got a couple hundred bucks to play around with. Given my desired resolution and space considerations, no bigger than 24". Other than that I'd love suggestions!
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, I've done it before and I like to tinker, but build it first, tweak it later
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, I'm really OK with turning down game settings if I have to, and at this point, I want an easier build to stabilize.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: My worry here is that in learning about 3000 new vocab terms in the past 2-3 days, I've chosen several parts that will clearly not play nicely with each other. Also, I've got no real sense at this point of how upgradable these components will turn out to be. Will that mobo and PS get me through a vid card/CPU upgrade? Ideally, I'd like this system to be a capable gaming rig with some part upgrades for 3-4 years. If I need to rework my budget or my components to achieve that, it's on the table.
That motherboard is not going to make it through a CPU upgrade. Both current Intel sockets are being replaced within the next year.
For $1000, your best bet is an AM3 build (EOL hasn't been announced yet). I'm afraid I don't have the time at the moment, but I'll check back a little later and try to post something if, say, MadAdmiral hasn't come up with an excellent build already.
The Phenom II X4 955 is much faster than the i3 530.
The heatsink I linked is a great value and performs very well. It will allow you to overclock with confidence later, and will keep your processor nice and cool at stock speeds.
The Graphics card is a good one aswell. You will be able to crossfire later with that motherboard as well, which is a great upgrade path. Note that this is not 2005 anymore, you will have no real troubles with a dual card setup, though more than 2 cards can still be a pain. Trust me, I have yet to have a real driver issue with my SLI'd 8800 GTS 512mbs. There is nothing unstable or difficult about a dual card setup, so you shouldn't dismiss it.
The RAM is good and cheap, 4GB is plenty and RAM is RAM.
The Antec 900 is not that great of a case, and is overpriced in my opinion. The Rosewill destroyer looks great and has the cooling capacity of the 900 for the price of the 300. Move the top fan to the bottom and buy two of these for the top: http://www.frozencpu.com/products/6176/fan-346/Yate_Loo...
In the order you've listed them, and keeping my initial comments sparse:
I'd go for the 300 Illusion myself, because I prefer no window (although I like the blue glow).
At 1680x1050, a single HD5770 should do well, especially if you are willing to lower a setting like doing without AA. Otherwise, you might want a HD5850 if it will fit in your budget.
I think the Gigabyte mobo you've listed should be a decent choice.
Especially in a machine expected to last, I would not get a core-i3. An i5/650 or i5/750 would be better choices. The stock HSF on the i5/650 I bought recently was lightweight aluminum, and keeps the cores around 36-38 idle, 57-60 load . Its replacement should arrive today.
That PSU got a good review at HardwareSecrets, but for reasons of longevity I'd choose a superior Antec Truepower New or Corsair instead. 550W-650W is enough.
I think you can get better latency on your RAM for around the same price. 4GB is enough; 6GB would be used on a LGA1366 mobo.
WD Black is not a bad drive, but a lot of people prefer the Seagate 7200.12 or Samsung Spinpoint F3; I buy the Seagates myself, and they've done well for me. A bare drive includes nothing but the drive; you'll need screws and the SATA cable. Your mobo comes with two such cables, and the case should include the screws.
A 23" monitor may be up to 1920x1080, but you can find 1680x1050 in a 20"-22" range. If you choose the higher resolution, you may want to up the GPU to a HD5850, although I play the same type of games at that resolution on my HD5770 (or even on a HD4850).
Another option is an AMD build, created around a Phenom II X4 955BE. Longevity for upgrades should be better with socket AM3, although I'm skeptical you'd need a CPU upgrade for either of these systems. The AM3 platform offers some better options, like better support for SATA 6Gb/sec and USB3.0 without hitting PCIE bandwidth. With one GPU, that may be a non-issue, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
See? There's a good example of an AMD build. That's the older 500W Earthwatts though, which is an excellent PSU, but not enough if you ever decide to add a second GPU. I'd still go for a Truepower New.