So after a long time, I finally mustered the courage to dive into building my own machine. After reading a WHOLE bunch on various parts and options, I arrived at the following build. I'm mainly looking for verification as to whether the parts actually function together. Suggestions for better or alternate parts are appreciated.
Ultimately, I settled on a the i5 760 as a best fit for me amongst Intel processors. From there, I went to the Mobo that was "futureproof" with crossfire capability (though I doubt I'll use it).
RAM seemed straightforward, I chose the 1600, but I'm not sure if it's a better or worse pick over 1333.
I went with a safe 600W since it's just $5 more than the 500W, but I hear Corsair is better but not modular. However, was unsure which to pick, if at all.
With respect to VGA - I don't need the best of the best, and 5770 seemed to be recommended. I'm perhaps the least sure of this choice, any explanation/guidance would be great. Ideally, I'd have a card that runs most games above average/exceptionally.
Picked seagate HDD simply because I have had 'em in the past and was pleased. Is there a better option?
Case seemed like a good "bang-for-your-buck" option.
Also, will I need to purchase any sort of cooling unit? I may OC in the future... but I'm not sure how tangible the differences would be. I'd like to keep it an option, at the very least.
What are you using the build for? Without knowing that, we really can't help much. I'm going to assume you're gaming until you say otherwise.
HDD: Get the Samsung Spinpiont F3 1 TB for $10 more. It's faster, more reliable and a better buy ($0.07/GB vs. $0.08/GB).
PSU: I'm not a fan of OCZ's units. They're cheap, but cheaply made. Definitely get a 650W from any of the following: Corsair, Antec, Silverstone, SeaSonic or XFX.
CPU: I think you'd do better to save some money by going with AMD. If you get the X4 955, it'll only cost you $145, and you'd get similar performance.
Mobo: Going along with the CPU change, I'd swap the board for an ASRock 870 Extreme3 ($90). It's got all the same features.
If you stick with the i5, I wouldn't get that board. The second PCIe 2.0 slot is only running at 4x, making it basically useless. In addition, Gigabyte's P55 boards typically only allow you to use either USB 3/SATA III OR dual PCIe 2.0 slots, not both. Instead, I'd pick up the Asus P7P55D-E Pro ($180) or ASRock P55 Extreme4 ($145).
RAM: Not a bad choice, but these Corsair sticks are technically the same, but $10 cheaper after rebate. However, if you really want to get a high overclock, you want to get 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 sticks, like these G.Skill Ripjaws ($70).
Case: A good choice, but to help with some combos, here's some other ones to consider: Rosewill Destroyer, Coolermaster Elite, Coolermaster Centurion 5, Antec 300 (or 300 Illusion), Coolermaster 690, HAF 912, Antec 900 (or 902), HAF 922 or anything from Lian Li. The last few might be out of budget, but check them out. The HAF 922 is easily the best case out there, so don't spend any more than what it costs.
Finally, don't forget to check the combos. You might be able to save a lot of money there. The PSUs from Antec, Corsair and XFX are typically in a lot of combos.
You only need to buy an aftermarket heatsink if/when you overclock. Some good cheap options are the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus and the Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100).
I forgot to list out the GPUs I'd consider if you switch to AMD. Basically, get the largest card you can afford, excluding nVidia's cards (no dual card solutions with AMD/nVidia). With an extra $110, that puts you into range for the HD 6870 or 5870. I tend to lean towards the 5xxx series, as they're a little more powerful for roughly the same price, but the 6xxx cards scale up a lot better in Crossfire.
Completely skipped my mind to include usage and budget, I apologize.
I hope to use this for some moderate gaming (I'm coming from an integrated express chipset, so I don't really need the best of the best - but not too bad either). I don't dabble in video editting or anything of that sort, but I do actively run dna sequencing modules/scripts. Other than that, mostly general usage.
I'm hoping to keep this around 750+-100 if possible. I haven't settled on a monitor - I have a Samsung 220WM I'm trying to fix up, so the monitor is low priority for now.
I'll be honest - I don't know much about AMD CPUs, but after some reading up on 'em, I see that there's a debate between Phenom II and i5/i7. Benchmarks show that i5 760 outperforms 965 BE - with a $45 premium.
After taking your suggestions, here is my potential AMD build:
Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811147153 54.99 Perhaps I'm missing something, but there weren't really any good combos on which I could capitalize. Plus, unless I add a good $30+, most cases offer about the same deal.
CPU: I'd switch the X4 965 for the X4 955. You'll save a bit of money, and they're technically the same chip. The 965 has a very slight factory overclock. You can get the same speed from the 955 by increasing the multiplier by 1 in the BIOS. You won't even need an aftermarket cooler for that. I know this breaks up that combo, but I've got a better one below any way.
HSF: Corsair's coolers aren't that great. I'd get the Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (listed as the SCMG-2100) for a little less. You don't need an aftermarket cooler if you're not going to overclock.
PSU: Here's a great combo: HD 5850 and XFX 750W $250 after rebate ($40 combo). With this larger unit (the quality is about equal), you won't need to be worried about needing power if/when you Crossfire. If you don't plan on Crossfiring, check out the Antec Earthwatts 650W ($55 after rebate) and get the ASRock 770 Extreme3. You won't need that much power, but it's probably as cheap (or even cheaper) than smaller PSUs.
RAM: If you want to overclock, grab a set of 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 sticks. G.Skill's are good at $70. The higher speed and lower latencies will help you get a higher overclock. If you don't want to overclock, Corsair's 1333 mhz CL 9 sticks are $40 after rebate.
ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
XFX HD-585X-ZAFC Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (Case)
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" (HDD)
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V/EPS12V (PSU - 650w)
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 (HSF)
ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner (need a drive) ($24)
AMD - $776 OTD
Intel - $841 OTD
Question about RAM: Does the GA-P55A-UD3 support 1600 RAM or not? I'm a bit confused by this.
Question about GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102908
Was recommended to go either 5850 or 6850. I still don't quite understand the difference, but just so happens that the AMD build has a good bundle with the 5850. The i5 is bundled with the mobo.
Thanks for the bundle suggestion for the 955, but it turns out this route is cheaper if I choose this 650w PSU.
About $70 between the two builds, if the mobo's are good picks. I guess the argument against the i5 is also that Sandy bridge is coming out next month... but will it be in my price range? Or will the improvements be noticeable?
The real issue: to AMD or to Intel, that is the question.
The choice of CPU/board won't affect the RAM choice. Technically, neither the AM3 nor the LGA1156 socket "supports" 1600 mhz. It will default to 1333 mhz until you manually set the RAM at the correct speed. This may require overclocking the CPU slightly.
The 5850 is a little more powerful, but uses more power. It also doesn't scale as well in Crossfire. The 6850 is one of the newest cards out there, and scales extremely well. There isn't a huge difference. I can justify getting either card.
Basically, the builds are essentially the same. The Intel build has a slightly more powerful CPU, but a slightly weaker GPU. The AMD build is cheaper, has a slightly weaker CPU and a slightly more powerful GPU. The Intel build's upgrade path is better due to the better scaling.
I would definitely wait to see what happens with Sandy Bridge. The new i5 is supposed to have a performance gain of around 20-30%. Of course, prices aren't known yet, so it's hard to say if the current i5s will be cheaper or not.
Thanks a lot for your responses. I ultimately don't have the option of waiting 2/3 weeks + the time it takes to see if Sandy Bridge is worth it, as I build it now or in 6 months.
With that in mind, I guess I'll be getting the most bang for my buck with the AMD setup. I will for sure be OCing the machine soon, and I'm thinking the GPU/CPU tradeoff should be OK. Furthermore, I don't think I will be using crossfire at all, so it makes sense to pick the 5850 for its power.
I guess the real thing that confuses me is how much CPU I'm trading away for the GPU gain - numbers are numbers in the end, but I'm unsure of the real world differences I'd notice.