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Please help: $2500 gaming workstation

I would appreciate any help I could get in choosing the guts of my new machine to reliably handle large mapping files (1Gb+) and play current games across 3 screens (with ease, if possible :) ). I want to limit this to $2500. I will try to explain succinctlly what I want, and all advice is gladly accepted since I will try to buy it all tomorrow, 11-29-10:

1) I already have full-tower case (NZXT Phantom), and I already have 3 monitors (23", but no 3D). I also have optical
drives, mouse, and keyboard, and I will be running Windows 7 Professional.

2) I was leaning towards a i7 950, but am up for any suggestions that will run well with #3.

3) I want an INVIDIA setup in 2-way or 3-way SLI, and one more card for Phys X and 3-monitor setup.

4) I want a mobo that runs the above, as well as it having room for upgrades, overclocking, and/or expansion.

5) Was thinking 12 GB ram, but am open for ideas.

6) Not sure of cooling needs, so please include in your list; was hoping to stay air-cooled (V-8 or V-10), but am not sure.

I hope that will help, and I do appreciate any creative ideas that fall close to the above $2500 price point. Thanks again!!
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More about please help 2500 gaming workstation
  1. Best answer
    PNY GTX 580*2 $1040
    (one of the only 2 GTX580s out, if a $500 one goes in stock, get that)

    MSI Big Bang XPower $295

    i7 950: $280

    Corsair AX1200: $267

    2* 6GB GSkill Pi CAS7: 2*140=$280

    Not sure about your HDD needs if you needs massive amounts of space, but here a mostly gaming oriented setup with a SSD boot drive.

    Samsung F3 1TB: $70

    G Skill Phenoix pro 120GB SSD: $187

    Total: $2419

    I used GTX580s since you requested Nvidia, but the HD5970 is a nice choice also, slightly more power efficient and has better performance. In fact, if you like the Red/black theme, there's a Ares+Rampage+TPQ1200 combo available here:

    On the coolers, you actually have a nice amount of options, as the difference between the better coolers is only ~1-3 C so a level of personal preference is involved. Here are some to think about:
  2. Thanks very much!! I am looking up all of your choices right now. I had a few different ideas, but I think I have overthought it to a point of standstill :/ Should I run these 580's in SLI, and if so, do I need a 3rd GPU not in SLI to make the 3 monitors work? Also, are these two cards better than running 3 GTX 470's in SLI and a 4th GPU? Again, I really appreciate it. I stumbled upon Tom's hardware forum a few days ago, and I really have learned a lot because many of you have a great passion and extensive knowledge that I that I cannot match. Thanks again!
  3. ...and I seem to stutter when I type :)
  4. To clear things up, for running 3 spanned monitors (You can play one game on all 3 monitors) you only need 2 cards in SLI for Nvidia or one card for ATI/AMD with eyefinity. You do not need 3 GPUs to run 2 monitors, even in extended mode, where each card runs its own separate set of monitors, you only need 2 cards max. So, 580s in SLI will run 3 monitors flawlessly.

    3 470s are nice, but tri-SLI scaling isn't great, so you'll end up with similar performance with slightly higher power usage. It would run considerably hotter though, so its up to you to decide whether you want to save $250 or have some expandability and less heat.
  5. Thank you for all your help, Timop. I sometimes feel like a grandpa with a rotary telephone as I try to catch up and keep up with current technology. I think you have not only helped me, but secured my final build decision. Thanks again!!
  6. Best answer selected by lowercaseletters.
  7. This topic has been closed by Maziar
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