Thanks to some great input here on this very forum I was able to finalize my build. Without digging up links to newegg for everything here is a quick reference of what I've already purchased thus far:
- A very nice Antec case from a coworker for just $40 (was originally $120 - I would list more specifics but I forget the model number)
- Asus P8P67 LE motherboard
- i5 2500K (unlocked) quad core processor at 3.3GHz per core
- Intel X25-V SATA Solid State Drive at 40GB (for boot and my primary game only)
- Thermaltake Black Widow 850W PSU
- LG 24x DVD rewriter with Lightscribe
As for RAM and a non-boot HDD, I have those figured out I believe and don't really need assistance there. Also, I will probably add a Blueray drive at some point as well but it really wasn't something I need right now as I already have my PS3 hooked up to my current monitor (LG 24" 1080p w/ multiple HDMI inputs)
The graphics card is where I need some assistance.
First and foremost, the main use of this rig is going to be gaming and I intend to play the highest-end games available. Currently I am playing an MMO named Rift which is graphically very impressive. I plan to pick up Crysis 2 as well and am frothing at the mouth already for Deus Ex 3 and the new Elder Scrolls installment both due out later this year.
The 6970 was my main choice but since I've been told I could just buy a 6950 and overclock it TO a 6970. I have about $400 or so to spend on a graphics card (give or take maybe $50). My motherboard does support both SLI and Crossfire but the second PCI slot runs at x4 and thus I believe would provide a bottleneck and not allow me to get the real benefit out of two cards.
What is your recommendation? Should I just go with the 6970? Should I drop to a 6950 and OC it? Or is there another card on the market that you feel is better for some reason?
At 1080P resolution, the 6950, GTX560ti, 6970, and GTX570 will do the job well. They are in the same performance category. There are differences between Ati, and Nvidia, depending on the game.
You pretty much get what you pay for because the market is very competitive. Any one will be appropriate for your cpu. Don't sweat the differences. Get the best card you feel comfortable, paying for; even up to the level of a GTX580. Only if you are planning on a 2560 x 1600 monitor or triple monitor surround gaming should you consider sli/cf.
As you get better cards, you of course get better frame rates, but the big thing is that the minimum frame rates get better, giving you more consistent gameplay.
I am not much in favor of overclocking graphics cards or of trying to unlock some of the capabilities of the 6950.