Budget Range: about $1000 Canadian without rebates
System Usage from Most to Least Important:- Aion (mmo bit better than wow), ESV: Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Crysis(/2)
All Parts Required
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Canada Computers - can pick up at nearby store in Ottawa - no shipping costs
They claim to price match so products can probably also be from Newegg.ca, NCIX.com, directcanada.com, PCCyber.com
PC Cyber is also in Ottawa but their prices are generally higher
Country of Origin: Canada
Parts Preferences: none yet really, just getting first impressions, would an i5 2500k build be possible?
Is there still a lot of value in unlocking a Phenom ii x2 555 BE and would it run my needs?
Overclocking: only if necessary
SLI or Crossfire: would like to have the option to add a card in future in case games need it but none need it now really
Monitor Resolution: preferably 23" @ 1680x1050 or 1920x1080 or 1920x1200
=$941. Although I see now that you need a monitor too, so I guess I fail. :S
Well, I guess I'll post regardless in case it helps. For gaming only you can certainly go down to 4 gigs of RAM, which should save a bit. You could also go with a slower processor / different MB, but that package hits a really nice price/performance sweet spot, so it might be worth it.
I'm actually finding Canadian prices pretty good at the moment, compared to usual anyway.
Realized I forgot a case in the previous list too. I doubt you'll need more than 4 gigs for games any time in the near future, but you're right - it's really really cheap. I'd go for 8 just for general use / multitasking. The cheap stuff I spec'ed though - don't waste money on higher speed or super tight timings.
You could definitely go with a cheaper cpu/mb, but I only researched the range I was looking for, so can't help you there. The 2500Ks come with a free copy of Civ 5 at the moment though, if that matters.
You could also play all the games you listed on a 23" with a GTX-460 for half the price of the HD 6950. Whether you'd get them uber-maxed I don't know, but it'd be fine. (I can play Crysis on medium-ish settings on my current HD 4850.) Since you're mostly interested in games though I'd skimp on cpu and motherboard first.
if the $1000 budget didn't have to include the OS + 23" monitor... then you could build a Sandy Bridge gaming system no problem -> but ~$300 is going to those 2 items... (and that's still not including the keyboard + mouse too)
this is where AMD shines... so here's a balanced AMD based system - in order to get you the best graphics for gaming:
as for 'future Crossfire'... 99% of people don't eventually do it... and 3 years down the road, when you want to upgrade your graphics... just buy whatever new tech is available at the time... you'll save lots by not getting an SLI/Crossfire motherboard /w an over-powered-for-your-system power supply.. that i guarantee you won't take advantage of