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High end gaming & photo/video editing system - ~$2K-$2,500?

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January 24, 2011 6:23:05 PM

Hi all -

I'm in the market for a new desktop system. To give you some background, I have a lot of experience building systems and replacing/upgrading hardware, but it's been years since I've bought or built a new desktop, so I'm way out of touch with some of the hardware out there. I've been doing a lot of research, but my head is spinning with all the choices out there as far as graphics cards, overclocking (something I have no experience with), etc...

Here's my questionnaire, let me know if you need any more info. Any advice on parts/options is appreciated!

Approximate Purchase Date: Will be ordering parts the first week or two in February.

Budget Range: $2,000-$2,500 USD, after rebates


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (would like to play some older games maxed out (Battlefield 2, Half Life 2), play Flight Sim X with detailed graphics and smooth framerates, and be powerful enough to handle some of the new games coming out. Second function is an audio/video/photo editing workstation. For any high-end audio stuff I will have external devices, so any sound card selected only needs to be spec'd for gaming/listening to music. Plus the usual web browsing/MS Office/blah blah blah.


Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor (but would still love to hear rec's for $1,000 and under widescreens you like), OS (have a license for W7 Pro 64bit from a dead laptop)


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, etc...


Country of Origin: I'm in the US, don't care where the PC comes from :) 


Parts Preferences: by brand or type: Prefer Intel CPU. Want SSD OS volume, but heard I should wait until the new controllers are out...any idea when that will be?

Overclocking: Maybe - would love the performance boost, but want the PC to last so don't want to stress stuff to the point of greatly shortening its lifespan

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe - I def want the graphics performance, so whatever gets the best bang for the buck

Monitor Resolution: hmm, not sure yet, but likely 1920x1200

Additional Comments: Quiet would be nice, but not essential.

Best solution

January 24, 2011 6:35:24 PM

CPU: i7-2600K $330
Mobo: Asus P8P67 Pro $185
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x4 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $160
GPU: 2x GTX 580 $500 each, $1,000 total
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $65 (I think it's cheaper on Amazon)
PSU: Corsair AX850 80+ Gold $180 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $100
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $17
HSF: Noctua NH-D14 $90. Expensive for a heatsink, but the new Sandy Bridge CPUs overclock like crazy (4.0 GHz without even trying), and you've got the money for it.
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100


Total: $2,227. Consider picking up another couple of monitors with what's left (like this Asus 23" 1920x1080 for $170 with promo, $150 with promo and rebate), and running them together in 3D Vision.

You could still throw in a SSD or two for RAID 0, but I don't think they're worth it right now. They're still too expensive at $200 for a 120 GB (the smallest I'd recommend). Wait until that's more like $150 for 120 GB.

You don't need a sound card any more, as onboard sound is good enough for everyone except the biggest audiophile.
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January 24, 2011 7:00:57 PM

MadAdmiral - thanks for the build, looks pretty sweet. I forgot to mention that I already have a Win 7 Pro 64bit license from my laptop that just died, so that would put your build @ $2,127, putting me right @ $2,500 if I went with the two monitors. :)  Going to add that to the "not needed" section of my original post now.

Looking forward to other thoughts - also, what are the current thoughts on blue-ray burners? Don't *need* one, but if I get heavy into the video editing it might come in handy. Although, I can always swap that in later...
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January 24, 2011 7:13:01 PM

I'm not a fan of BluRay in PCs. The only use for it is to watch BR movies, which is only useful if you already own a lot of BR discs AND don't already have a BR player. Besides, who wants to watch a movie on a smaller monitor?

You never need to burn them, as you can just buy larger external drives for storage. Good BR burners are going to be well over $100, and each BR disc is about $1. Considering you can find 2 TB external drives for around $90, I don't see the value in using BR as a storage.

Until a real PC specific use for BR develops or prices on burners fall drastically, I can't justify the added cost. I'd watch the prices on burners, and once it gets down to $10-20 more than a DVD burner (so $30-40), then I'd consider buying them.
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February 3, 2011 12:56:41 PM

Ugh - I was all set to start ordering parts last night when I read about the Intel chipset debacle. Any idea when corrected mobo's will be available? Trying to decide whether to wait for the new mobo's, or buy one now and deal with the recall later...

Also, anyone else have any modifications to MadAdmiral's build, or an alternate build? I really like what he put together, but always looking for other people's opinions.

Thanks!
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February 3, 2011 12:59:33 PM

I've heard as late as April, but no one really knows. Either way, the performance gains of Sandy Bridge are so great that I can't recommend buying anything else right now, but because of the design flaw, I can't recommend buying Sandy Bridge. I'd definitely wait to do anything until the problem has been fixed.
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February 3, 2011 1:56:08 PM

Best answer selected by major_major.
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February 3, 2011 2:23:04 PM

Now, if I understand this correctly, the problem is not with the Sandy Bridge CPU, but rather the Cougar Point motherboard chipset, right? So why has Newegg delisted the SB CPUs as well? How bad would it be to buy the SB CPU, find a vendor still selling the mobos, run everything on SATA III and just swap the mobo in April? I'd really rather not wait until April to build, since my current PC is seriously on its last legs, but I will if the above plan has any flaw (other than the hassle and potential downtime of RMA'ing the mobo in April and having to physically replace it)

Thanks!
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February 3, 2011 4:07:17 PM

They've delisted them to avoid issues with customers who don't really understand the problem. Also, it will help them eliminate their inventory of older CPUs.

Theoretically, the only problem would be trying to get a replacement. No one knows if you were to buy a board now (after the announcement) if the motherboard companies would honor the warranty or offer free replacements. That's the risk you run is that you won't get a replacement.

I personally would just stick with the old machine for a few more weeks/months. You've waited this long already, so what's another little bit of waiting?
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February 3, 2011 4:18:17 PM

True, I'll try and stick it out and hope my current machine makes it another couple of months. Thanks for all the help, you've been a great resource!
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