Approximate Purchase Date: Over the next couple months. Can't afford to get all the parts at once, and I'm willing to wait for a better deal on some. I'll probably buy the cheaper parts first, in the hopes that either more expensive ones drop in price (CPU, if I'm lucky), or better tech slides into the price point I'm looking at (for the GPU).
Budget Range: $1,000 out of pocket
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, internet/streaming movies, misc. office type work. No video editing/graphic design/anything like that. The game I'm aiming towards here is Skyrim. I want to be able to run it with as many mods as it can handle, including some of the better graphics mods that I'm sure will be coming out. I'm probably also looking at Diablo III and the like; not so much a fan of first-person shooters, so if certain cards are weaker at that type of game, but stronger with others, I'm willing to make that tradeoff.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I've usually used newegg, but if someone knows of sites with better value, I'm willing to consider anything.
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: I'm not beholden to any manufacturer, but I want to get whatever's the best value for my money, and in certain places, I'm willing to spend a little more to get the part I believe will be best.
Overclocking: Probably not, at first. I've never built a new system, never overclocked, and I don't really know what I'm doing, so unless there's a BIOS option for "safe, stable overclock" that requires no effort, I plan to hold off on this until I spend the requisite time researching how to do it properly.
SLI or Crossfire: Not at first. I definitely want to leave the option open, so I'm looking to get a power supply that'll handle me popping in a second copy of the GPU I get when the price comes down.
Monitor Resolution: It can handle up to 1900x1200.
Additional Comments: My main question revolves around the mobo, RAM, power supply, and case. I don't really know what's good, except for a general idea of what manufacturers are credible, and want to make sure I'm not making any rookie mistakes. I'm interested in advice on anything, but that's where my knowledge is weakest.
As to the build:
Mobo:GIGABYTE GA-P67X-UD3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $155 - The main things that led me to this board are the PCI Express 2 slots being x16 and x8, which seemed better than most of the slightly cheaper options, SLI support, though that seems relatively standard now, it supports up to 32GB RAM for future expansion, and plenty of USB 2 & 3 ports. I'd be willing to step down here if I'm overbuying.
CPU:Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500 - $210 - I don't plan to overclock, since I've never done so before, and don't want to burn out the computer on my first go, so I was originally leaning against the 2500K. Also, getting the 2500K means I have to add in for the Arctic Silver thermal paste and the Hyper 212+ fan, which when taken in conjunction with the price step up to the 2500K is another 60-70 bucks I don't really have. However, I'm also thinking it might be better to spend the extra now, so I don't end up wanting to replace the CPU sooner than later. Better if the processor lasts the entire time I plan to use the computer.
RAM:CORSAIR XMS 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMX8GX3M2A1600C9 - $100 - I've always stuck to the policy that there's no such thing as too much RAM. However, there is such a thing as too much money, so I'm sticking to 8GB here. If I had my druthers, I'd put 16GB in here and future proof myself, but 8 should be fine for now, and this is an easy place to upgrade later should games start taking better advantage of massive amounts of RAM. I don't know if Corsair's XMS RAM is particularly good or bad for gaming, though, and I've been seeing recommendations on here of other brands.
Case:COOLER MASTER Gladiator 600 RC-600-KKN1-GP Black SECC Body ; Mesh Front bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $60 - Another place where I'm making some real tradeoffs. I want to make sure all the parts fit in here, which I don't know the answer to, but it seems to have good ventilation, plenty of expansion space, the power supply's mounted at the bottom, I like the design (no side window, which appeals), and it's reasonably priced. Not a big fan of black mesh, but that seems to be standard on cases in this price range, so I'll deal. If anyone has any experience with this case, or ideas where I could improve upon this without stepping up into the $100+ dollar range, I could use them.
Optical Drive:Lite-On 24 X iHAS424-98 - $25 - I don't need Blu-Ray, since that's what my PS3 is for. I don't want to spend a ton of money on an optical drive, and I kind of chose one at random based on seeing this used in various places. Is there a better one, or are non-Blue-Ray optical drives basically interchangeable at this point?
OS: Win 7 Home Premium - $100 - No point in splurging for Ultimate, and I only have an upgrade disk at home. This I gotta have, even if I do partition or plug in an extra hard drive for Linux.
Pricing this out at Newegg comes to $1,038.92 after shipping if I take the cheapest options: 2500 with stock paste and fan, and the Twin Frozr card. With the ASUS card, the 2500k, a Hyper 212+ cooler, and Arctic Silver paste, it's $1,142.90 with shipping. That's more than I'd like, but I'm not sure where I'd be best off saving money, since I don't want to drop below the i5-2500 or the GTX 560 Ti. Should I go bigger and give up on the $1,000 goal, wait to buy certain parts for a couple months, or are there ways to get below the magic $1,000 mark?
AMD's gpu at the same price point is the 6950, an excellent card, IMO.....
I'll have to look into that. Is there a specific manufacturer you recommend, or just whoever hits the price point the best?
If you are going to stay with the Intel® Core™ I5 2500 then the stock HSF should be fine for you. If are going to move up to the Intel Core I5 2500K and overclock and getting the 212+ makes sense.
Intel Enthusiast Team
That's good to know. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes for me to get the 2500K to begin with. That way, I can overclock at whatever point makes sense without having to replace the chip. Better to put out the extra $15 now than an extra couple hundred when I want to overclock.
You could get the 2500k and not get the heatsink or thermal paste till later.
Good idea. I tend to get myself locked into the "all or nothing" mentality, where the choice is 2500 and stock cooler/paste or 2500K/Hyper212+/Arctic Silver, and nothing in between. Replacing the stock cooler later would be a way to save some money in the long run, and probably the best bet for keeping my costs down.
I really appreciate the parts advice, too. I like that case better, especially since it's free shipping, and saving $30 on the PSU is pretty handy. The combo's tricky. At this point I haven't bought anything, so I have to figure out in the next hour or so whether I should start buying now, or wait and see if I can benefit from further price drops. But that's a great deal to chew over. Thanks!