Hey guys, I posted a few weeks ago when I was debating between getting a laptop vs desktop + netbook/small laptop for college this coming year. I've been putting together desktop builds on newegg and if I can manage get a desktop that'll last me at least through college (probably with intermittent upgrades) for under $1500, I'll have enough money left over to buy a quality netbook or lightweight laptop that I can run CAD, MATLAB, etc on.
Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next few weeks
Budget Range: $2000 total budget (After rebates), anything left after desktop purchase goes toward a laptop/netbook
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Games, engineering programs, internet surfing, assignments, F@H
Parts Not Required: speakers, monitor, mouse, keyboard
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg (tigerdirect if its cheaper)
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Sandy bridge processor, nvidia graphics card, ASUS/ASRock mobo
SLI or Crossfire: Potentially SLI
Monitor Resolution: I have a monitor that runs at 1920x1080 that I'd just bring along to school
Additional Comments: Preferably less bling (LED's) and quiet would be nice since I'll have it in my room all day!
I'll probably just go with a cheapish CD/DVD drive (no BD) and a copy of Windows 7 home premium (unless I can find another copy of windows 7 for less somehow, potentially through my school's technology fair/sale). Without either factored into the price, I'm looking at about $1265 after rebates I believe, leaving a good amount for a second gen. i5 laptop. As soon as I get the desktop price set I'll be able to look a little more closely at laptop options (Lenovo looks like a pretty good choice as of right now though).
Would you still recommend it at the cheaper price over a zalman or xigmatek cooler? I have a dark knight in my old build that has worked out pretty nicely, but just heard good things about the hyper212 so I decided to check it out.
In addition to the challenger, I was looking at a couple other cases (mostly antec or lian li). The Antec 300 stood out as a pretty solid option and is similarly priced, but I wasn't sure if anyone has had personal experience with either case (quiet?, good cable management, problems fitting in larger cpu coolers or graphics cards, etc).
After some more research I chose a different psu (a corsair 650w) to get a nice combo deal with 8 gigs of corsair vengeance ram. I'm not at home right now so I can't link but Ill try to tomorrow. I also have been looking at other video card options...I found an evga gtx 570 with display port (without it was more expensive?) for 300 flat but I could probably find a 560ti for a hundred dollars cheaper. Whatever money I save just goes toward a laptop, and I think I've found some good ones from lenovo in the 700 dollar range, so what kind of difference in performance would I see in a switch from the 570 to a 560ti?
Your best option to see what the difference between video cards will be is to look for reputable benchmarks for games similar to what you'll be playing, and at the resolution you'll be playing them. I'm at work so it's a bit difficult for me to link any, but Tom's should have some, as well as other sites. Also, check Tom's most recent article on best GPUs for the price range, if you haven't already.
I just put together an office PC for my dad using the Antec300; it's a great case, but if I was you I'd probably invest a little more for your build. I personally found that while cable management in the 300 wasn't an issue, it could have been better - and my build used integrated video (hence I can't offer advise on fitting in a large card, either). If you're planning on OC'ing, you may need a case with a little more airflow. I know the CM HAF cases have a fairly high reputation, although I find them a little sore on the eyes. If you like the Antec300, did you also take a look at the 900/1200? If you want to go with the 300 though, I'd suggest adding a front intake fan, as I believe it only comes with one top, and one rear fan.
An additional minor note, since my dad's office PC was my first computer build ever, I had the Newegg step-by-step Youtube videos running in the background on my laptop. I noticed that when it came to updating the mobo's drivers, the ASUS and Gigabyte websites visited in the videos seemed far more user-friendly than the ASRock website I visited to update mine. That's not to say it was impossible (one issue with an optional driver, and the LAN driver needed to be reinstalled) although it was enough that I'm likely steering to ASUS or Gigabyte over ASRock for my next build, unless there are major differences in performance. This is more personal preference, as I put high value in a well-constructed, easy-to-use website.
I don't have much knowledge on the real technical aspects of a computer build, like PSU ratings/watts/specifications, etc... Hopefully I provided a helpful perspective from someone who recently built a computer themselves, and shared the minor issues I noticed along the way.