First new computer build, thoughts from the experts?

PC will be for general internet, videos, music + occasional gaming, flight sim buff, FS2004, Lock On, IL-2 Sturmovik. I'd love to play FSX but have heard requirements are very extreme, even by today's standards. Budget ~$1200 CDN. Few component questions.

CPU - Intel i3 2100 or AMD Phenom X4 955? Have read the 4 cores performs better for a flight sim and general multi-tasking, but also have read that the i3 is a great gaming CPU and runs a lot cooler?
Video Card - HIS Radeon 6850 or 6870, $20 difference between the two, worth the 6870?
Power Supply - Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W
RAM - 2x4GB DDR3 Kingston Value Ram
Case - Antec 900 Advanced, Cooler Master HAF 932, or Corsair 600T Graphite, all seem popular, the first is about 25% cheaper than the other two.
Storage - WD 1TB 7200 RPM Black, would a 80GB or so SSD for OS and Flight Sim offer performance benefits to justify the cost?
Motherboard - really have a hard time understanding all the different aspects, probably a basic one? Asus or Gigabyte. Not looking to do something like a multi-GPU setup, I'm not sure if it's mainly having lots of extra ports etc. that makes the difference between a $100 and $300 board?
Sound Card - Sound Blaster Audigy 7.1 - don't know if it's even worth it vs. onboard sound?

Sound ok? Would an aftermarket cpu cooler be worth it for this kind of moderate build? I really appreciate any thoughts on this. I don't mind spending more if it's going to create a real benefit for the kind of uses I've detailed. If I'm making any bad choices here please let me know. Thanks so much!
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More about first computer build thoughts experts
  1. i3 is better and has a better upgrade path

    For the video cards that depends on the overall price. For example if that 6850 is $170 you can also look at GTX 460s for $150. If that 6870 is $190 it really needs to come with a rebate considering that the GTX 560 costs that much. It all depends on what the total cost of the video cards are.

    Good PSU though it restricts you to a single video card.

    Scratch the 932; the 922 is just as good and cheaper (it's also huge).

    The size of the hard drive and speed does not affect gaming performance for the most part; just load times and WEI.

    For the motherboard the only reason to spend $150 or more is for a good overclocking board; if you don't oberclock a $50-70 board is fine.

    Onboard > Audigy.
  2. Wow first thing is the expensive cases. I would recommend the CoolerMaster HAF 922 for $90 Canadian. Next standout is the CoolerMaster power supply. CoolerMaster psu's are generally not good on the lower end only there highend stuff is good. I would look at the OCZ Mod X Stream Pro 600w. You loss a little efficiency but gain modular cables and imho a better brand.
    I would suggest the i3 2100 or if the parts I recommend work for you and the savings are enough I would suggest you get the Core i5 2300/2400
  3. My suggestion

    Antec One Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    XFX Core Edition PRO550W (P1-550S-XXB9) 550W ATX12V 2.2 & ESP12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

    Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52400

    bundled with:

    GIGABYTE GA-H67A-UD3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 996770

    HIS H695FN2G2M Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

    Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G3K5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    SUM 980$ With MIR
  4. i would definitely get an aftermarket cooler. they aren't very expensive and it lengthens the life of your cpu or good for overclocking
  5. I avoid all CM PSU's.

    Outside of obvious lemons (none here), case choice is a highly individual decision.

    Go with onboard audio until you detect shortcomings that a card might fix.

    I personally do not think that SSD's are worth their costs for general use.
  6. What are some other good power supply choices if I can't get the XFX brand? I'm looking to get this in person from a chain they have here in Western Canada, I don't know if you are supposed to mention specific stores?. They have Antec, CM, Corsair, Thermaltake, Silverstone, OCZ. I've read that modular supplies make it a lot easier for building.

    They'll build your PC from the parts you pick for $40 but I really want to do it myself just out of interest, I think it would be fun. They guy was trying to convince me to let them build it, and maybe there is a bit of a point in that if I screw up and wreck something I'm out of luck vs. it being their issue. But I've watched lots of videos online and it seems like if you take your time and read the instructions I should do fine.

    Is the bump from the i3 to i5 something that will stand up better longer term? Looks like about a $70 spread in price. $130 vs. $200. But Intel definitely seems reccomended over AMD, so that narrows it down.

    Any specific CPU Cooler reccomendations? I've read the article on the best <$50 CPU coolers, just pick one of those?

    Thanks for all the advice.
  7. Silverstone Strider Essential 600w if they have it
  8. Thanks for all the tips, I went out today and got the final results. Different than what I had originally thought.

    Intel i3 2100 - $99 - on sale $30 off
    Gigabyte P67A-UD3-B3 Motherboard - $105 after $30 mail in rebate
    2x4 GB Gskill Ram - $65
    eVGA GEForce 450 - $94.99 after $30 mail in rebate
    Seagate 1TB Hard Drive - $55
    Antec 550W 80 plus bronze power supply - $69.99
    Samsung DVD-RW - $19.99
    Antec 300 case - $54.99 - $15 off
    Windows Home 64 bit

    So I almost picked my parts to a great extent by what was on sale, but I think I have a rig that fits well together, middle of the road components that provide good performance for such a reasonable price point.

    I've read so many things online about how you should get a really good power supply, not to cut corners on that, so I was kind of worried and said I wanted some Corsair 700W PSU that was pretty expensive but they told me that it would be an utter waste unless I planned some serious upgrades. The guy said that this kind of build could probably run ok off of a 400W supply but 550 gives some margin there. That all sounds fair?
  9. lol? Now I read the newegg reviews of this gigabyte motherboard and about half of them say "it's useless they should stop selling it it just reboots every three seconds, gets stuck in a loop!" and the other half say "it works fine". Hard to know what to think, well hopefully it'll work for me?
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