~$1700 gaming system help

Hi there. I've suffered through slow hand-me-down systems the last decade or so, and decided it was finally time to get a nice one myself. Sadly I know little about computer building (more of a software guy myself), so any help would be appreciated.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I get some suggestions :D

BUDGET RANGE: anywhere up to about $1600 - $1800 after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, software development (I have one monitor but need another for dual-screen). I'm not saying I need to be able to max out Crysis, but whatever's manageable for the price point would be much appreciated (although I realize having to get a new monitor somewhat lowers everything else). I also need to be able to do quick development work (fast compiles, lots of smooth multitasking to stay in the flow).

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS. I'm basically putting the first three off for now since I already have usable parts, but I'd certainly be looking to eventually upgrade, so if anyone wants to throw out any top-of-their-head recommendations it'd be fine by me :D

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: is all I really know, but this doesn't matter as much.


PARTS PREFERENCES: None in particular

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe. Last advice I heard about overclocking was that it wasn't worth it and could be dangerous, but that was about 5 years ago, so if the prevailing wisdom's changed since then, I'm fine with it.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe? Not really sure on this one, to be honest.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I'm currently using a 1280x1024, I'd love a nice big 1920 if I could get it.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I definitely need a lot of screen real estate in the new monitor, and would prefer a 1TB internal drive. Sadly, my current computer is an old laptop, so there's pretty much nothing I can salvage from it.

EDIT August 5: After some research, here's what my build looks like so far. (See below for more details).

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply
Gigabyte 890FX/SATA3&USB3.0/A&2GbE/ATX Motherboard GA-890FXA-UD5
Phenom II X4 965 Black AM3 3.4Ghz 512KB 45NM 125W
2 of: Zalman ZM-F3 120mm Quiet Case Fan with Silicone Pins
Zalman ZM-MC1 Multi-connector PS to Add Fan
Fan 3 Wire to 3 Wire Y Connector
2 x G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case
NZXT CB-3F Sleeved 3-Pin Fan Extension Premium Cable
RADEON HD 5870 1GB DDR5 HDMI Graphics Card HD587XZNFC
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB Internal hard drive - 300 MBps - 7200 rpm
Sony Optiarc Black 24X 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner LightScribe Support - OEM

Thanks in advance for any and all help I get here!
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  1. Best answer
    Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply Shipping $ 8.53
    Reason: efficient PCM design cuts power consumption and heat by 33%. $78.99
    Note: 500 watt power will run this system, if the supply is rated continuous true power.

    Gigabyte 890FX/SATA3&USB3.0/A&2GbE/ATX Motherboard GA-890FXA-UD5
    Note: You want a motherboard with video card instead of onboard video, uses less system resources to maintain system speed. 1GB DDR5 video card memory minimum recommended.
    Reason: PCIe 16X video support, advanced chipset, reliable manufacturer $179.99 Shipping $ 7.19

    LG Electronics 10X Blu-ray SATA Writer Drive with Software WH10LS30K - Bulk (Black)
    Reason: Highly rated, reasonable price, higher writing speed. $128.49 Shipping $5.49

    Cmple HDMI Cable, 30 feet $ 9.49 Shipping $5.49
    Note: Very expensive HDMI cables are a waste of money. You should be able to buy a good long cable for about $10, that’s certified and tested. Limit HDMI cable to 50 feet maximum.

    Logitech Internet 350 USB Desktop Keyboard and Mouse $ 22.99 Shipping free

    Hauppauge 1183 WinTV HVR-1600 Internal PCI Dual TV Tuner/Video Recorder Media Center Kit $99.24 Shipping $8.68
    Reason: Highly rated dual input HDTV, NTSC, FM tuner with S video/audio inputs.
    Note: It is recommended to use Windows Media Center instead of the supplied software, just load the drivers from the CD.

    Windows 7 PRO 64 Bit System Builder 1pk $139.99 Shipping free
    Reason: Media Center included, much better quality resolution video compared to XP, more advanced record playback features. Drivers are from supplied manufacturer CD’s or manufacturer’s websites. This version does not contain many hardware drivers.

    Zalman ZM-MC1 Multi-connector PS to Add Fan $ 3.70 Shipping $6.88
    Reason: provide 5,7,12 volt breakout connectors to control fan speeds.

    2 X G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Memory - 4 GB : 2 x 2 GB - DIMM 240-pin - DDR3 - 1600 MHz / PC3-12800 - CL9 - 1.5 V - unbuffered - non-ECC $229.96 Shipping $9.98
    Reason: Provide excellent high speed RAM for 64 bit operating system, video, audio, photo, film editing, photoshop, scanning, increased support.

    Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External 3 X 5.25; Internal 6 X 3.5 2*Usb2.0
    $ 53.38 Shipping $36.10
    Reason: Better case will have plenty of high flow ventilation and spaces for fans. A standard “home theater” computer case will have very limited space and poor ventilation.

    Fan 3 Wire to 3 Wire Y Connector $ 2.39 Shipping $4.88
    Reason: split circuit for 2 cooling fans.

    Phenom II X4 965 Black AM3 3.4Ghz 512KB 45NM 125W $179.99
    NZXT CB-3F Sleeved 3-Pin Fan Extension Premium Cable $ 3.99
    RADEON HD 5870 1GB DDR5 HDMI Graphics Card HD587XZNFC 379.99 Shipping $6.54
    Reason: You will want the best HD graphics card, with HDMI output, for the highest resolution video quality, to interface to your HD wide screen TV. Dual output card allows hooking up computer monitor also.

    2 of: Zalman ZM-F3 120mm Quiet Case Fan with Silicone Pins 9.99 shipping free

    OEM Western Digital 74GB 10K VelociRaptor WD740HLFS $ 89.99 shipping 8.94
    Reason: Fastest available drive for operating system and programs only. Use additional 1 TB drive for video download files and office files.

    Computer Parts Totals 1602.57 108.70 SHIPPING PARTS

    Also recommended peripherals…

    Canon CanoScan 9000F Color Image Scanner $233.99 + 22.21 tax
    Note: Scans negatives, film, pictures, documents, 9600 X9600 dpi shipping was free

    Acer 24” WUXGA HD HDMI DVI VGA monitor $249.99
    Shipping free
    If you really go for it, Amazon has the best prices on hardware, Walmart on the cables, Costco on the monitor.
  2. Best answer selected by elky10.
  3. Let me make one thing perfectly clear:
    DO NOT buy a cheap video card, I have tried the cheap cards, and they suck. The 5870 will make you very happy, and worth every penny.

    The Acer 24" monitor is the best buy at costco
    You want a Velociraptor drive instead of the Barracuda, the VR is twice as fast, and is made by western digital, more reliable than seagate, and quieter. Look on E bay.
  4. I actually ended up going with some slightly different changes -- I did stick with the 5870, but I switched to a WD Caviar 1TB drive. I also went with a 25.5" Asus on Amazon -- after adjusting the colors a bit, it looks pretty beautiful. I may have also changed up the DVD writer, but I don't remember exactly what it is, to be honest. I did the whole build in a couple of hours last Tuesday, worked like a dream, and runs great; thanks for the advice!
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