I do not want to start a complete debate but have been doing as much researching that I would like and on the fence whether to build a new PC not. I really prefer the Alienware Area 51 ALX cases due to the lighting and cosmetics but do realize these are WAY over priced and would be paying for marketing, engineering, and other unecessary products.
I had recently purchased a pretty high tech cycling trainer that displays real HD video of cycling tours in multple parts of the world which is run by computer software that engages the motor brake to controlthe actual resistance of the uphill or downhill slope. At the time I did not have a desktop and only a laptop but the software required dedicated graphics memory that my laptop did not have.
A friend at work referred me to his friends son n law who works for a computer recycler. Just to get me started with the cycling trainer the computer recycler sold me a pentium dual core 2.8 with a cooler master 600 or 650, an HP mobo, 250 gb of hard drive, either 4 or 6 gb of ram, a dvd drive, and an old ugly hp case for $150.00. I bought a Nvidia GeForce GTX460 SC ($200.00) and a wireless lan card that installed on my second PCI or PCI-E slot.
As I mentioned the case is UGGGGGLY so I ended up purchasing a NZXT Phantom case (black). I have a friend who is very knowledable with computers who can custom build. Before I just swapped the old mobo and CPU over to the new case I figured now would be the time to get any upgrades. I have been shopping at Fry's and trying to get as much info as possible on tomshardware.com.
I like playing multiplayer on PS3 for COD, Crysis 2, Dead Space, etc. I enjoy playing RTS such as StarCraft 2 and enjoyed Crysis my last PC which had a Pentium D Extreme and an older 256-512 MB Radeon card from 2002-2003 until the mobo fried and sold the system to my brother in law.
I am debating whether it is worth spending the additional $1000.00 or not to upgrade my system or just save my money and play on what I have both on the PC and PS3. I really do not have a budget but I have a hard time justifying spending thousands on the PC hardware and components unless I am really going to notice a large difference in graphics quality and FPS rates. I do not really care about load times but I am novice to computer tech knowledge.
My current thoughts for a build are...
CPU - i5 2500K or i72600K - I know the i5 is probably all I need and the best bang for the buck but the i7 may last a little longer
Motherboard - ASUS Sabertooth P67 (Rev 3.0)
GPU - I have a GTX460SC 1 GB. Is this enough or would steping up to to a GTX560-70-or 80 really make the difference? Per the Fry's salesman only 1 of the GPU will be dedicated to the gaming even if I were to have an SLI setup
RAM - Have no idea. I know DDR3 1600 is a popular choice but not sure what brand or how much. The ASUS Sabertooth P67 (Rev 3.0) mobo is dual channel (4 slots) but will hold up to 8GB per slot. After reading some threads on tomshardware.com most PC do not use over 4 GB for gaming but most suggest equipping atleast 8 GB. Is there any reason to step up to 12, 16, or 32 GB for a gaming system? Is it better to go have as many slots with lower GB of RAM to spread the workload amongst each RAM card or have more memory on each stick with the same equivalent total RAM.
HDD - WD Caviar Black - Not sure how much I need? 500 GB - 1 TB?
SSD - Not sure if I really need one for gaming since this has more to do with load times. Maybe a small one for just my OS
OS - Currently have Windows XP 32 bit. I understand 64 bit is better? why? Windows 7 will let me utilize the Direct X11 on my GPU. Is this the way to go over XP?
PSU - Not really sure how much wattage I need or what brand to go with? I think I will possibly go with CorsAir. Right now I have a 600 or 650 watt cooler master. I also want the machine to be quiet as it is currently in the bedroom. I am guessing I need anywhere from 700-1000 watts? Obviously more if I run SLI.
Sound Card - Not sure if this is needed with a i5 or i7 processor but would like to have the optical capability for my souround sound in the living room.
Optial drive - Not sure really what I have right now and what would be a good drive for a gaming system to get good resolutions. I have heard these are cheap so any suggestions would be great....I have heard samsung is good.
At the end of the day is it worth me upgrading my system or or saving my money and holding out for a few more years. Keep in mind I already have another expensive hobby with carbon fiber road bikes at over $8000.00. Will I see a difference in my graphics and resolution or is my GPU handling most of this currently? Do I really need to step up from a dual core 2.8 system that I purchased for $150.00 to a i5/i7 processor with a faster mobo and DDR3 RAM setup which I will have to upgrade the PSU and end up spending at least another $1000? The system is hooked up to a 55" LCD 1080p
CPU - A 2600 won't last any longer over the 2500 since all the difference is clock rate, an actual architecture change would have to occur to increase usable life.
RAM - Go for 4GB DDR3 1333MHz, you won't really notice the difference above this with the use you have stated. You can go for 8GB if you wish and would be noticeable, but rarely seen through benchmarks.
HDD - Get as much as you need, 1TB is a good start, mechanical HDs are cheap.
SSD - If you are unsure, don't get one yet.
OS - Get Win7 64Bit now, not only will it allow you to use DirectX10 and DirectX11, but it will allow you to use 4GB of RAM and more, alongside better security and compatibility.
PSU - Any 650W+ 80+ Gold PSU will work for single card and even some dual card setups, Seasonic X-650 is a brilliant buy for reliability, you aren't looking for maximum wattage here, you are looking for quality and efficiency.
Soundcard - Try without a sound card to begin with, if everything works, no need to buy one. They rarely give better quality unless you spend a larger amount on them.
Optical Drive - Any DVD writable drive will work here, £$10 is all you need to spend.
GPU - A GTX460 is perfectly capable and there is no reason to upgrade yet.
You probably won't need to spend much above 600-800
Thanks for your input evilgenius134. For gaming...Crysis (1 and 2), RTS, Dead Space 2, Left for Dead, COD, etc would it be worth the $600-800 to upgrade from my basic mobo and 2.8 dual core machine that only cost me $150.00 plus a video card? Should I wait it out for the Z68 card with the SSD cache newer technology? Do the games really need a quad core i5 or i7 to run smooth or is the i5 and i7 overkill? On the SSD I was thinking of getting a smaller one such as a 60-80 GB to run the OS and a primary game or two. On the PSU the guy at Frys explained it that since my GTX460 has the number 460 in the product it will take 460 watts max for the video card, 95 for the processor, xx for the RAM, and so forth. He had suggested 700-800 watts. Again I am unfamiliar with all of this and thought the CorsAir brand was the most realiable from what brands were offered at Fry's. I will take your advise and look into the Seasonic products but still am questioning the needed wattage. You recommend 650W + 80 + GOLD. I understand the "gold" is a rating scale for effeciency, noise, effectiveness, etc. What does the +80 mean? Most pre built machines with i5/i7 and a decent GPU have 750-850 from what I have seen. If I wanted to be able to add a second card eventually and dedicate background graphics to a seperate GPU then I would probably need to stock up on a more powerful PSU correct? Also I understand that if I setup as SLI both cards will not work together like RAID 0 striping to improve resolution or FPS. Only one card will be dedicated to the game and the other processing back ground images?
At the end of the day I just want to have a machine that produces the best image quality to my TV for gaming at the best bang for the buck. I don't mind splurging on a hardware item or two but I don't store a lot of data such as music and movies and just want to have a better looking game resolution than my console can produce.