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I've done my research, help me finish this build!

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December 15, 2010 8:28:00 AM

So I have spent waaaay too many hours reading newegg reviews, threads on Tom's and HardOCP, and trolling the beautiful graphs at benchmark reviews. It is time to pull the trigger on my build, and I was hoping you fine folks could help me put my mind at ease by affirming my choices or voicing some smarter alternatives.
I will be using my new build for gaming (RTS & FPS), compiling (Comp. Eng. student), media consumption, and a lot of reading. I have zero experience with overclocking, but down the road I might want to explore my options. I have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and OS (Win 7 Pro 64).

So far, the parts I am commited to and have purchased are:
-Intel i7-970 Hexacore
-160GB X-25M Intel SSD.
These parts are purchased and will be part of the build regardless of any other choices I make, so please don't go off on a tangent recommending AMD or sandybridge, etc. :D 

Now here comes my problem with second guessing myself.

*Motherboard: I am interested in moving to multiple GPU's at some point (build will start with one due to budget constraints) and USB 3.0 for my external HD. I am most concerned with stability, and have used ASUS boards successfully for many builds. So far, it appears the ASUS P6X58D Premium is my best option, but it comes with a price premium and I am very concerned with the limits I see on the memory compatibility chart. I will start with 6GB but as this system will be around for a few years 12GB is in my future--but all 1600 memory modules with decent CAS don't run as spec'd in 12GB configurations.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*Memory: A little birdy told me I would be thrilled with 1600 DDR3 with decent CAS timings, but looking at the MB compatibility charts has me scared. I will only get a 3x2GB kit to start, but a year or two later will move to 6x2GB. Would I notice any difference going with cheaper, slower memory? Is 1300 a better fit? How important are CAS timings? Argh.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*GPU: I have a single 1900x1200 monitor, but in the next year I would like to make the jump to running two 24" screens running 1900x1200(or 1080). Where do I put my money to give me strong gaming performance now, and the possibility to get a second card down the road for the wow factor? I've always used eVGA nvidia cards for the lifetime warranty and my comfort with the geforce line. Right now I'm looking at a eVGA 570 normal clockspeed. Is there a better bang for my buck option at the resolution I will play at? Will this work for two screens at 1900x1200 in the future? Is SLI a viable upgrade opportunity a year from now?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*PSU: I know how important a quality PSU is to system health and reliability having suffered a hardware failure cutting corners on a previous build. I realize 80 Plus GOLD doesn't mean I'll notice a difference on my power bills, but I've inferred it means I am getting a well made product. I'm interested in the SeaSonic x-750 as it seems to get stellar reviews. I am concerned with if I have enough power for SLI in the future and if I'm paying an unnecessary premium here. Also, all this talk of power ripple on the reviews I've read have left me scratching my head.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*Enclosure: I like bottom mounted PSU, and I don't like much flash (a la case windows and lighting). From the videos I've watched I think the Cooler Master Storm Sniper is a great case, and with a button I can shut off the LEDs. I'm not running some crazy RAID setup here, just an SSD and a HD or two with a single optical drive. Cooling is important, but I would like to avoid as much noise as possible, and the huge fans seem like the best of both worlds. My current case is a P180, and while it has served me well I want to branch out a bit. I might have a huge air cooling rig on my CPU so I am mildly concerned about clearance with the side case fan.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*CPU Cooler: I'm looking for a great air cooler here, a compromise between cool temperatures and quiet operation. I think I like the Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler (even though it looks homeless). It didn't make the review of greatest cooling solutions on benchmark reviews, but I've heard positive things.

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Okay, that turned out way longer than I expected it to. Anyways, I don't expect anyone to comment on every single question I've posed here, but any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated. My time frame for ordering so I can spend Christmas building is drawing to a close so I will act fast. Thanks again and I love this site.

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December 15, 2010 9:57:48 AM

It appears that you are set to build a high-end system. I'm NOT familiar with the MoBo but it looks like a winner. I've never known much difference in Ram timing, but I'd recommend buying all the Ram you'll ever need now and all from the same manufacturer and same speed. A single good High Performance Gaming Card (performance/cost ratio) will easily run two monitors – look for dual link capability (most will have dual link DVI). The 80 plus gold, bronze, silver doesn't mean much – any 80 plus psu will work. You shouldn't need any more than 650 watt but that's your call. Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic make good PSUs. A factory CPU cooler should work just fine, but it's a matter of preference. I like the cases with the PSU on top because it acts like an exhaust fan for the warmer air in the upper part of the case... Exhaust fans that are mounted on perforated case sides don't need to run any faster than 800 rpm, because you can only get so much air through those little holes. If you run them any faster you'll just make unnecessary noise and not move that much more air. Keep in mind this writing is just my opinions.
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December 15, 2010 11:37:58 AM

get the ram now... get it all at once from the same place and mfg....

mixing ram has always given me a headache in the past.
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December 15, 2010 12:10:42 PM

bigredking said:
I will be using my new build for gaming (RTS & FPS), compiling (Comp. Eng. student), media consumption, and a lot of reading. I have zero experience with overclocking, but down the road I might want to explore my options. I have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and OS (Win 7 Pro 64).
Hi bigredking, what do you do? C, QT, GTK+? What do you use? Apache?

That processor is an absolute overkill for anything you do. You need 6 core systems (or quads with 8 threads) for apps like 3D rendering and stuff. Gaming barely needs 2. Most games are not even optimized for 4 cores.

Going with a 280 dollar i7-950 will see no perceptible difference in performance, while saving you a ton of money. In fact it is one of the best processors money can buy today. The Asus Sabertooth X58 will do wonderfully well along with that.

But I'll advise you to wait for a few more weeks if you're in the market for a high end PC. With Intel dropping their new range of processors on Jan 5th, it makes a lot of sense to wait for the full reviews before pulling the trigger.
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