Advice for $2,000/$2,500 Gaming PC

i've only built one computer before (an HTPC earlier this year that i'm pretty happy with so far). i've never built a gaming computer... i've done a good bit of research, and i'm fairly confident this will work out well, but i would REALLY appreciate some input from some of y'all who actually know what you're doing! thanks!

Approximate Purchase Date: within the next few weeks

Budget Range: $2,000 - $2,500, before or after rebates, including shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, surfing, ripping dvd/blurays (no encoding), listening/watching movies/music

Parts Not Required: will reuse the mouse, keyboard, monitor, and speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: i'll probably default to newegg, unless another site has a great deal

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: i would like to use an Intel processor, Windows 7 64-bit for the OS, and i've read on Tom's that Radeon HD graphic cards seem to scale better, but no other real preferences

Overclocking: maybe

SLI or Crossfire: yes

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: i'm somewhat concerned about cooling/heat buildup, it will sit inside a desk/cabinet... the back of the desk is cut out, and the front door can be opened during use (gaming sessions!), but still a little concerned.

COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
- is this case big enough for all the stuff i'm looking to throw in it?!
- are there enough fans... will i need more?
- is this the best place to try saving a little money?

ASUS P8P67 WS REVOLUTION LGA 1155 Intel P67 / NVIDIA NF200 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
- i went with this MB primarily because it looks like it will handle two graphics cards at x16 each (is it worth paying extra for a board that can do 2-way crossfire/sli at x16/x16 instead of the more common x16/x8???)

Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
- looks like the best bang for the buck by far right now!

2x MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III PE/OC Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video
- planning to get two of 'em for crossfire awesomeness (never had a crossfire or sli setup before -is it hard to do?)
- would i be better served spending the extra $40-$60 bucks or whatever on a pair of Radeon HD 6970s or some NVIDIA solution??

OCZ Z Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W ATX12V 2.3/ EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular
- read something good about this one somewhere. 80 PLUS GOLD sounds good. is 1000W enough, not enough??

OCZ Agility 2 OCZSSD2-2AGTE240G 2.5" 240GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
- will be the boot drive, i don't need a storage drive right now, have a server to hold all music/movies/photos/etc. should be plenty big for the OS (Windows 7) and several games

2x G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH
- 16GB overkill? the things i've read seem to generally suggest going for more RAM rather than faster RAM. is this stuff overclocking-friendly? should i bother?

LITE-ON Black 12X Blu-ray Burner with Blu-ray 3D feature SATA Model iHBS112 - OEM
- will do some occasional dvd/blu-ray ripping, will rarely if ever do encoding though, i usually take straight rips

ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 Channels PCI Express x1 Interface Sound Card
- is a separate sound card worth messing with? i've got very decent Klipsch speakers in the room, will one day upgrade speakers, but i just want my MP3 collection to sound it's best...

COOLER MASTER Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Intel Core i7 compatible
- is this enough extra cooling for the CPU?
- will i need additional fans to keep this rig cool?

Thanks for checking out what turned into a pretty freakin' long post! Any help will be very much appreciated. Thanks again!
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. 2 6950's at 8x will not bottleneck it so get the asrock p67 extreme4 motherboard. only for cards like the gtx 580 and up. the 2500k is perfect for you it looks like you wont take advantage of hyper threading. that psu cooler is crap- . with the money you saved i would go for 2 6970's and an corsair hx 850 psu. also for your case look into the nzxt phantom black i am very satisfied with mine.
  2. Best answer
    Wow, now that is a build! The thing about builds in this price range, though, is that they should be geared towards a multiple-monitor setup. An i5-2500k would be ideal here since you haven't listed things that will make the $100 worth of Hyper-Threading on the i7-2600k worthwhile.

    On to the motherboard, there really isn't any noticeable gain in performance in x16/x16 over x8/x8; it's like 1-2%. The Pro model in that ASUS line would do you just fine.

    When it comes to RAM, more memory gives your a bigger reward than faster memory does. However, once again, you haven't listed anything that would require more than 8GB of RAM. Or even 4GB, for that matter as gaming will be the most taxing to your system. Overclocking on the Sandy Bridge platform isn't memory-dependent as in generations past.

    For a Crossfire setup, you have chosen, in my opinion, the ideal GPU solution. Keep in mind, one of those cards will play anything out there now on max settings. Metro 2033 might be the exception. A dual-Radeon GPU setup is more for Eyefinity.

    I don't like OCZ. I think their quality control could be better. Also, 1000 watts is overkill for this system. Look at the Corsair 750HX. It has a 80+ Silver rating, modular cables, and a lower price. Additionally, it's build quality is second to none.

    Look at the 120GB Intel 510 SSD. First, 120GB is all you will need. Second, this drive still uses 32nm NAND flash. It's going to be faster, too as it features a SATA III interface. It's currently $255 after rebate.

    You could opt for a Blu-Ray reader, DVD writer drive to save some money also.

    You don't need a discrete audio card to enjoy high-quality sound...integrated audio has come a long way. MP3 is a compressed format anyway, which degrades sound quality, nullifying any gain you would get by using a discrete card.

    That cooler would be adequate, however you can find the Hyper 212+ on for about that same price. It's a better option.

    With the savings I outlined above, you can opt for a Cooler Master 932 Advanced, also through (free shipping). It offers an updated design and better cooling (no need for extra fans). You should also be able to fit three 1080p monitors into your budget so you can game in Eyefinity.
  3. No need to go to 6970s as almost all 6950 2GBs will unlock to 6970 speeds with a simple, well documented BIOS update. Hard to mess up considering there's dual bios on 6950s.

    You might save some if you don't need a 1000W PSU, maybe some more if you don't plan to write BluRay (I don't actually know anyone who does), CM Hyper 212+ is cheap and works well.

    Maybe with the savings, move up from Agility 3 to Vertex 3. I don't know THAT much about SSD performance but there's a Agility 3 vs Vertex 3 article on Anandtech today.


    sounds like I said a lot of the same stuff as nd_hunter. Personally, I don't like multi GPU setups- noisy, power hungry. I'm running a single 6950, flashed to 6970 speeds and like he said, it plays everything out there on max settings. I just but a new high end, but not bleeding edge, GPU every 18-24 months or so.

    It also allows me to run a 650W PSU.
  4. Best answer selected by jaydash.
  5. Thanks for all the feedback!

    I've actually decided to hold off on the build for a couple of weeks and up the budget to about $3K, looking to future-proof just a little more, delay that next graphics card upgrade for a while... gonna go with dual 580s, a big fast SSD, and a counselor to help my marriage after the build! Haha!

    Thanks again, all the feedback was helpful and thought provoking!
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