I'm planning a gaming build for early February 2011. I'm thinking in the $2000 range, but would be happy to save money if possible. On the other hand, this will probably be the One Great Computer of my life, the only time I'll be on the cutting edge (or at least, in the vicinity of it), so I'm willing to splurge within reason.
I'm planning on dabbling in some lightweight overclocking, but nothing too complex. I've more or less settled on an i7 950 ($295) and a 128GB crucial SSD ($275) but almost everything else is up in the air. Except liquid cooling. That's out. Not on my first build.
I've started a blog to organize my shopping list, and hopefully it can answer any questions that you might have about my plans. http://compwnents.blogspot.com/
But I have a few specific questions for you, assembled computer geniuses of the world.
CPUs: Basically, I've read that the i7 950 is in a nice position right now w/r/t power and price point. Does anyone expect the upcoming Sandy Bridge release (on a different socket) to affect that standing?
MOBOs: I'm basically looking at these 4... not really sure how to choose between them... Leaning Sabertooth for now? Thoughts?
1) Asus Sabertooth x58 -- $200
2) Asus P6X58D-E -- $205
3) Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R -- $200
4) Asus P6x58d Premium -- $285
RAM: As I understand it, x58 mobos have 6 RAM stick slots. In general, you're best off filling 3 (not 6) to make it easier to cool. I'm willing to go 3 x 4gb. But if 3 x 2gb is good enough for any game for the foreseeable future, then I could go that way. Opinions?
Also, how important is Cas Latency? I've read 7 is better than 8 is better than 9. I assume 6 is better than 7? Is Cas Latency all that important? If it's any improvement, it doesn't seem much pricier to find a lower CL kit.
GPU: I am totally flummoxed by the myriad options available for GPUs. I'm leaning toward 2 460's ($400) or 2 6850's ($370). Those seem to be the best graphics for the money, but at the expense of future expandability. (I suppose I can always add a third 460 down the line... hadn't considered that before.)
On the other hand, I wouldn't be against a single top-of-the-line 580 or 5970. (Even though I guess they wouldn't perform as well as 2 460's or 2 6850's.) I won't buy doubles of these at their current $500+ prices, but I'd maybe pay the premium now so I could double them up when their prices drop.
Finally I've been reading good things about the 6950 ($300). I could maybe grab one now and wait on one to crossfire until the price lowers a bit or I feel I need it.
CHASSIS: I'm planning on getting a full. Who knows what sorts of expansions I'll be doing in the future... I'm a migrating Mac user, so I sortof have a dream of adding 2 more (cheaper) SSD's in the future, one for Hackintosh OS and one for Ubuntu OS. But that's neither here nor there. Any drawbacks to ordering a nice big full-size case besides price? Cooling should be easier, right?
I would not anticipate Intel allowing whatever SB processors they release in Jan to quickly upset the flagship X58's status; instead, I'd expect to see the SB cores offering 'similar' performance (on a per clock basis), but with merely dual channel memory, and would not anticipate whatever chipsets that debut with Sandybridge to allow isntant eclipsing of the solid/stable X58 shipsets that already exist...
That challenge will likely come later, as the chipset matures, and 3 to 5 BIOS versions later.