Approximate Purchase Date: Next 3 months, possibly around the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, if not, before Battlefield 3's release at latest.
Budget Range: 1000-1500 (flexible)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming
Parts Not Required: KB/Mouse/Monitor/Speakers/OS.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any (newegg, typically)
Country of Origin: US
Parts Preferences: None
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 single monitor, no plans to dual monitor
I'm looking to build a future-proof system that can play upcoming games comfortably at 60 fps on high settings. I'm not comfortable playing around 30 fps, so my current gpu(4890) running The Witcher 2 at 25-35 just doesn't cut it.
Considering starting off with a 2500K and 6950 2GB to handle games this fall, and getting a motherboard, case, and PSU that can potentially support 6950s in CF so that when the price of the 6950 drops this fall/winter/spring i'd pick up a second, as two right now seems overkill (right?) for single monitor 1920x1080. What do you think? Other options might be 2x 6850 in CF now, instead of waiting to buy a second 6950 down the line. The upcoming release of the 7xxx series (what's the latest rumor news? Q3-4?) might impact my decision here - does a new series release typically drop the price of the previous series immediately/significantly? Would a 7xxx card be worth waiting for? (Need the system before BF3, though!)
I don't care about aesthetics - case LEDs, side windows, etc aren't important to me.
I'm considering going SSD, too, but I'm not sure yet - I could be convinced either way. If i'm going SSD, should I be looking at 2x SSD in Raid 0 or a single, larger SSD? I have Windows 7 for TRIM. I wouldn't be comfortable with <120gb total SSD space, most likely. (90% steam games, so they can be uninstalled/reinstalled easily/quickly, but still - <120gb sounds hard to work with).
Pretty pricey for a board, when the Gigabyte P67X-UD3-B3 will do the same job for $30 less. It will support SLI/CF GPUs as well, and although it's not the latest chipset, the OP doesn't need the features of Z68.
For 1920x1080, stick with the 6950 - beats out the 560Ti in ~90% of the benchmarks. Another perk is that each GPU supports 3-4 monitors, so when you get bored with your setup, you can get more monitors (23"@1920x1080 run as low as $150 these days).
If you buy 2x6850s now, you'll really only meet the requirements to play games at 60fps @ 1920x1080, and you'll have no upgrade potential in 1-2 years without an overhaul.
Crossfired 6950s only need 750W - I'd recommend XFX's 750W, Corsair's TX750 (Version 2), or PC Power and Cooling's Silencer Mk. II 750W. I believe they're all OEMed by Seasonic, but either way they are great and reliable power supplies.
This and the Intel 320/510 SSDs are the ones I'd look at. You won't experience a huge speed increase in game loads off of a SSD, but your boot time will speed up incredibly. Your other option is a 64GB SSD dedicated to the OS and using a HDD for storage (how I'm set up).
Personally, i think that the 6950 2gb are overpriced right now so its a tough call. At $280 they cost 60% more than the $175 sapphire 6870 and provide nowhere near that in terms of performance boost. I think hd6870s (not 6850's) in crossfire are the clear value winner right now, although i agree with some of the arguments in favor of the 6950s. http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6950-crossfirex...
^Yeah, most of the 6950 2GBs I've seen have rebates that drop them down to $250 which isn't bad. Usually the rebate is enough to warrant a check instead of those stupid gift cards as well, which is a plus.
IMO, QuickSync alone warrants the $30 price premium of the z68 Asus board, it save so much time if you do any video encoding at all. Plus if your GPU ever craps out you can always use the iGPU for troubleshooting. I will concede that SSD caching never made much sense to me.
Being able to save some cash on the PSU is a benefit that I didn't consider when deciding between the 560 TI and the 6950. And as stated by boiler, if you decide to go with 6950s a 750w PSU will do nicely. The only caveat there is that I tend to re-use PSUs in my future builds so I like to spend a good chunk of change on a top end PSU and then just keep reusing it until it becomes obsolete or dies.
The CM Hyper 212+ may be the king when it comes to bang-for-buck, but for maximum cooling with minimal noise the Noctua is unparalleled. I'm probably a little anal about noise and cooling so that's why I recommended it (Also why I recommended the RV-02).
I think Boiler and I agree on everything else tho.