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First time building gaming PC, advice most welcome

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March 2, 2011 2:04:28 PM

I'm a long-time computer user, but first time system-builder; I've upgraded and repaired existing Pc's but haven't built one from scratch, so I'm looking for some advice / a critique on a system I'm planning to build for a friend (as somewhat of a test of my abilities before building my own system at the end of the year). I did a lot of research and planned out an i5 760-based system near the end of last year, but my friend opted to wait for Sandy Bridge to come out; so now I've gone back to the drawing board. Here's some basic info on what I'm looking for:

Purchase Date: Before the end of March

Budget Range: $2000-2300 Aussie dollars (system comes in at $2500 at the moment, but that's mostly due to Windows 7 being annoyingly expensive; I'm hoping I can scrounge a free copy from someone or find somewhere that will let me buy the OEM version)

Usage: Primarily gaming, including resource intensive games eg. Crysis, Fallout NV, Metro 2033 etc., no heavy encoding or anything

Preferred websites: Since I'm trying to save as much money as possible, I use www.staticice.com.au, which compares prices across a wide range of Australian stores, and pick the lowest bidder for each part in my state (shopping online tends to be more expensive, although in Australia everywhere is pretty damn expensive for new-release parts)

Parts Preferences: Intel for the CPU, since it's a Sandy-based system and I'm much more familiar with Intel than AMD; NVIDIA for the graphics since my friend wants to use PhysX and maybe Stereoscopic 3D in the future; 1920x1080 monitor 22"-24" (doesn't have to be 3D capable at this point, as she can't afford a 120Hz monitor); full tower case; minimum 2TB of storage

Overclocking: Maybe, although I've never done it before (only know the theory), and I suspect the cooling will be insufficient (air-cooled, since I have no idea where to start with water cooling and it's more expensive). Will obviously get the system running properly before even thinking about overclocking, but any advice would be great.

I'm fairly confident with the individual parts I've selected; my main concern is how well they'll work together. My main concerns are:

1. Cooling - will the system be fully stable? Is there any headroom for overclocking, and if not, what would be required for it?
2. Bottlenecking: Is my CPU fast enough to properly utilise the GPU power? (AFAIK it should be sufficient). If not, what changes should I make?
3. Power supply - is it sufficient (again, it should be sufficient, at least if I don't overclock)
4. Noise - I don't really know what my friend's preference is with regards to this, but I suspect it's a forgone conclusion- since the system is aircooled, it's going to be noisy
5. Cost - is there anywhere I can save money?

Here are the parts I've chosen at this time (won't list the prices or sites I'm using since they're all over the place, I can do it later if necessary):

CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K 3.30GHz
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P-SE2
Video Card: x2 MSI Twin Frozr II GTX 560 Ti 1GB 880 / 4200 MHz (SLI)
RAM: 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1600MHz 8-8-8-24
Motherboard: Asus P8P67-PRO
OS/Boot HDD: 60GB OCZ Vertex 2
Storage HDD: x2 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7200RPM in RAID 0
Optical: Samsung SH-B123A 12x Blu-ray read / DVD-RW Combo
PSU: 850W XFX Black Edition
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922
Case Cooling: x1 front 200mm fan, x1 top 200mm fan, x1 rear 120mm fan, x1 side 200mm fan
Sound: Onboard
Monitor: Asus VH242H 23" 1920x1080
Mouse: n/a (pre-supplied)
Keyboard: n/a (pre-supplied)
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

My main questions pretty much surround the graphics cards, especially as to how hot they'll get with that level of cooling. In my previous build I had 2 GTX 460's, and was told that the above level of cooling would be sufficient, but I've seen numerous forum posts with people having excessive temps in a single GTX 560, let alone two, although I'm not sure what cooling systems some of them were using. If it's not going to be at all possible to overclock the CPU on air, then I can probably substitute some parts for cheaper ones (eg. CPU cooler, lower-bandwidth RAM).

Note: I'm aware that there's an issue with the current batch of Sandy-bridge mobos; I've contacted a couple of stores and they expect the fixed boards to be in sometime in the next two weeks.

Apologies for the epically long post; advice, suggestions or comments of any kind are most welcome :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
March 2, 2011 2:14:21 PM

the one thing I'd note is your 850W PSU will be overkill for anything less than GTX 580 in SLI or 6980s in Crossfire, or heavier (two 6990s, GTX 590 when they come out)

if you plan to run 2 GTX 460s or 560s, or 6850s/6870s in crossfire, a 620-650W from XFX, Sea Sonic, Corsair, or Antec will be fine.

Aslo, you should be fine with Windows Home Premium 64-bit.
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March 2, 2011 3:12:49 PM

nice build,
might want to go with a 2ms refresh on the monitor cause you're heading for some intense gaming.
also, i applaud the win 7 pro, though it may be pricier, it isnt as bogged down and i simply enjoy working with it more.
(give best answer to the dude above me unless someone else posts something really good, these were just a few suggestions)
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