This will be my first attempt at building a computer. I am an engineering student and want to build a computer that I can afford to build and later (over the next 1-2 years) upgrade and upgrade again as needed. Ideally, the computer would function well as both a gaming PC (no FPS's) and as a workstation for 3D modeling programs (SolidWorks, AutoCad, ProE).
For now, I'm guessing I'm better off putting extra money in a quality motherboard. Also, I am trying to build an AMD system as it's cheaper. I can't afford much for graphics right now, but in little while I'll be able to upgrade that to something respectable. (I have no idea to what, however. I don't know how well professional cards work for games or how well gaming cards work for design software. If anyone could be of help on this point, it would be much appreciated.)
This is where I'm at (listed in order of importance):
ASUS 890FX Crosshair IV Formula MOBO -------$210
AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE 3.2GHz --------------$112
Thermaltake V4 ATX Case ------------------------$50
Corsair XMS3 4GB 1600 DDR3 Dual Channel-----$48
Ultra Lifetime Series Pro 750 W PSU -------------$87
Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATA III 7200 RPM --$40
HIS Radeon HD 4670 1GB PCI Express 2.0 x16--$60
Light-On LightScribe 24x SATA DVD +/- ---------$25
It took a lot of work for me to get a reasonable setup for under $650. I have an old monitor that will work for now and all the software I need. However, I'm not sure if I'm going in the right direction with this, seeing as I am going to need a computer in a year and a half that can deal with high-end design software. If anyone has any advice, or can suggest a comparable Intel setup, I would love to hear from you.
MB - The Crosshair is overkill unless you are planning on adding dual video cards down the road. Also, that ASUS is an AM3 motherboard and the new AM3+ boards are the better purchase. They will accept the current AM3 processors like the X4 955 you listed above, and accept the new Bulldozer CPUs yet to be released. The AM3+ board will give you a better upgrade path. For a single GPU, the MB below would be a good option for $100. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU - Good choice. Can be overclocked nicely with an aftermarket CPU cooler (Hyper 212+ is a good choice). $115
MEM - Again, good choice. The G.SKILL Ripjaws is also a popular choice. ~$50
This is one of the few large newegg combos that doesnt have a huge weak link. As such, its a great deal for a low budget, single graphics card sandy bridge build. You would of course need to add a gpu and dvd burner. I think its certainly worth considering, although i will admit the AMD option gives you more room for the graphics card in this limited budget.
As genghiskron suggestd I would get that Newegg combo build as Intel is better in both gaming and computation right now and the i5 2500k is there standout product. Also look into an Nvidia graphics card over an ATi/AMD as they are also better in the computation/solid modeling space due to there CUDA abilities. Something like a GTX 460 768Mb http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... serve you well and you could add a second in SLi later on for increased performance.
Thank you for the feedback! I am now left with two-ish options, and no idea which would be better...
As far as AMD goes, I made a lot of changes according mainly to your suggestions.
ASUS AM3+ AMD 870 DDR3 2000 SATA 6Gbps Supported ATX Motherboard M5A87 - $96
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2 GHz - $86
Corsair XMS3 4 GB 1333MHz PC3-10666 240-pin DDR3 - $40
Corsair Enthusiast Series 650w 650TX 80 Plus Bronze - $90
Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Green SATA II 64 MB Cache - $50
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB 1024 MB GDDR5 - $225 (after rebate)
Total (with everything else the same): $662
Slightly over budget, but the goal here is to have a GPU that doesn't need to be upgraded for awhile. I'm not sure if the 560 can be ran with a smaller PSU, but if it could, I would get a smaller one. Hopefully, the CPU would unlock to a x4, but if not I planned to replace it eventually anyway. If it does, the first thing I can upgrade is to an SSD, and the little bit of savings helped to afford the 560.
I could either do that, or something similar, or get the Intel i5 combo, which is rather appealing. The main downside is that the graphics card I would have to get to fit my budget (like a GTS 450), which I would be likely to replace altogether later.
So, are the new Bulldozer CPUs supposed to be competitive with the 2nd gen Intel? Is it worth taking the AMD setup for now, and replacing the CPU when the new line comes out, or is it a safer bet to go with the i5?
I would recommend getting a full tower case if you plan on upgrading. I have a thermaltake v9 mid tower and the ASUS Crosshair IV formula and the case is pretty full up so i am buying a full tower to have more room for future upgrades and better cable management and airflow. the worst thing is upgrading a part and not having room in the case. My EVGA GTX460 FTW barely fits in my case. A bigger case would allow you to fit bigger graphics cards in there, bigger CPU heatsinks, and hide your cables away for better looks and airflow. Also, if you ever decide to get water cooling you will have plenty of room and wont have to worry about buying a new case in addition to the expensive cooling.