Long story short: Need some help with a custom build!

Hey folks. My birthday is coming up in August, and as part of a deal me and my father have made (because of my excellent grades), he has agreed to pay 3/4ths of the cost of any computer of my choice. I'm a huge gamer, however I mainly stick to racing sims such as Nascar Racing 2003 and Rfactor. With that said, I'm probably looking at a high end video card. I've decided to buy a custom-built gaming computer from CyberPower, and since I'm planning to put in around $300-$375, I have a bit of wiggle-room to work with.

However, the sad truth is, I've been stuck with CRAP for over 6 years, and by that I'm talking a ancient HP Pavillion DV1000 with a 1.6ghz Pentium M running 2GB of ram on a Intel GMA 915 Chipset. My parents bought this new for me when I was in the 5th grade, and although it is far from sufficient for my sim-racing needs, I have never once complained about having such a sad and pitiful computer. I'm the kind of person who is just thankful to have one in the first place. The laptop simply can barely muster 20 frames with the bare minimum graphics settings and to add insult to injury, I'm driving on the keyboard whilst connected to a wireless router. Needless to say, I am far from competitive in my online league in which I've been a member of since I've had the laptop. These guys are my best friends; we've known each other for so long and have had great battles on the track, but they never cease to give up on thrashing me on my horrendous setup. I honestly have grown to love my Pavillion simply because it is so very meager and has never once refused to commit such "suicidal" tasks :lol: Yes, it is god awful slow and some wonder why I even bother, but the fact of the matter is, I've gotten used to the terrible performance regarding games. The funny thing is; even though these guys have such awesome computers and racing wheels, I've managed to hang in there and not back down. Barely, but just barely, I've stood my ground and can hang in there with those who are truly awful yet are graced with having the best computer and driving wheel.

The time has come to put this *racehorse* out to pasture and for me to crawl out of the massive hold that I've lived in for all this time. I never thought the day would come, but I'm finally upgrading! And I'm not talking about going to Wal-Mart and buying a budget system, I'm actually moving up to the big leagues! It seems that all my work in school has paid off (not only am I a bit of a gaming nerd, but I kick tail at school too. 3.45 GPA going into my senior year at high school!) and my parents appreciate my hard work towards getting a job!

So with all of that said, I'm planning to buy a taylor-made CyberPower gaming PC. My range is around $1200 to $1300 so I can go a little fancy on things. I've got a bit of a bias towards ATI/AMD because it seems everyone in their mother has a Intel CPU or Nvidia GPU so I want to be different. Now, I'm fairly computer proficient so I'm definitely no slouch when it comes to knowing my stuff. In fact, I would have built my own computer but I'm afraid that I may get a DOA and I'm a bit clumsy after all. Now I said all of the stuff about my old computer to tell you this: even though I have money to burn, I DON'T want some quad-monitor gigapiece. Of course, I'm getting the Phenom X6 1090T and 8GB of RAM but what route can I go with graphics? I'm looking at a 19'' screen and even though I guess 1280X1024 would be what I would be running in-game for that, I am a major gamer and sim-racer after all and I do need some muscle.

I'm aiming at running 1280X1024 in game with the works, everything turned up to high so with that said, what ATI card would you recommend and do I really need a big huge screen to game with? I was thinking the Radeon 6850 would be just fine but for only $189 more, I can get a 6970 instead. Is it THAT big of a difference to buy a say 19'' screen running 1280 res compared to a 23'' screen running 1680 res? I've got the money, but is it really worth it? After all, I can save quite a few bucks and I could use the spare change for a racing wheel. I hope someone can help me out because I'm super confused. I hope I didn't write or ask too much but I just wanted to better clarify my position. Thank you guys for the awesome community!
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More about long story short custom build
  1. http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/AMD_Quad_Core_Configurator/

    # *BASE_PRICE: [+609]
    # BLUETOOTH: None
    # CAS: CoolerMaster HAF 912 Mid-Tower Gaming Case w/ Adjustable HDD Cage [+1] (Black Color)
    # CASUPGRADE: None
    # CD: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive (BLACK COLOR)
    # CD2: None
    # CPU: AMD Phenom™II X4 955 Black Edition Quad-Core CPU w/ HyperTransport Technology
    # CS_FAN: Default case fans
    # FA_HDD: None
    # FLASHMEDIA: None
    # FREEGAME_VC02: None
    # GLASSES: None
    # HDD: 1TB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [-6] (Single Hard Drive)
    # HDD2: None
    # IEEE_CARD: None
    # KEYBOARD: Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard
    # MEMORY: 8GB (4GBx2) DDR3/1333MHz Dual Channel Memory [+64] (Corsair or Major Brand)
    # MONITOR: None
    # MONITOR2: None
    # MONITOR3: None
    # MOTHERBOARD: GigaByte GA-870A-UD3 AMD 870/SB850 chipset support DDR3 Ultra Durable™3 Socket AM3 ATX Mainboard w/ 7.1 Audio, GBLAN, Support 6-core CPU, CPU Auto Unlocker, USB3.0, SATA-III, ON/OFF Charge for IPod, RAID, 2 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1, & 3 PCI [+2]
    # MOUSE: XtremeGear Optical USB 3 Buttons Gaming Mouse
    # MULTIVIEW: Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors
    # NCSW: None
    # NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
    # OS: Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium [+104] (64-bit Edition)
    # POWERSUPPLY: * 650 Watts - Corsair CMPSU-650TXV2 80 Plus Power Supply - Quad SLI Ready [+99]
    # USB: Built-in USB 2.0 Ports
    # VIDEO: AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 16X PCIe Video Card [+163] (Major Brand Powered by AMD)

    # _PRICE: (+1016)



    * COOLER MASTER HAF 912 (RC-912-KKN1) Mid-Tower Case, ATX, No PSU, SECC/Plastic
    * CORSAIR TX650 V2 Power Supply 650W, 80 PLUS® Bronze, 24-pin ATX12V v2.31 EPS12V 2.92, 2x 8/6-pin PCIe
    * GIGABYTE GA-880GA-UD3H, AM3, AMD® 880G, DDR3-1866 (O.C.) 16GB /4, PCIe x16 CF /2, SATA 6 Gb/s RAID 5 /6, SATA 3 Gb/s RAID /2, VGA+DVI, HDMI, USB 3.0 /2, HDA, GbLAN, FW /3, ATX, Retail
    * AMD Phenom™ II X4 955 Quad-Core 3.2GHz, AM3, HT 4000MHz, 4x 512KB L2 + 6MB L3 cache, 125W, 45nm, Black Edition, Retail
    * KINGSTON 8GB (2 x 4GB) HyperX Blu PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz CL9 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
    * SAPPHIRE Radeon™ HD 6870 900MHz, 1GB GDDR5 4200MHz, PCIe x16 CrossFire, 2x DVI+HDMI+2x mini-DP, Retail
    * SAMSUNG 1TB SpinPoint F3, SATA 3 Gb/s, 7200-RPM, 32MB Cache, Retail
    * RAID No RAID, Independent HDD Drives
    * SONY AD-7261S Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe, SATA, OEM
    * ACER G235HAbd Black LCD Monitor, 23" TFT HD, 1920x1080, 0.265mm, 300cd/m², 5ms, VGA/DVI, VESA
    * MICROSOFT Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition, OEM
    * WARRANTY Silver Warranty Package (3 Year Limited Parts, 3 Year Labor Warranty)


    The monitor is cheaper on Newegg.

    LE: For gaming the quad core is just as good.
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