System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, internet, homework
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Monitors, Optical Drive
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com or wherever stuff is cheaper lol
Country of Origin: Good ole USA
Parts Preferences: None, just whatever will run the best at the lowest cost (I know, I know, you can't have your cake and eat it too)
Overclocking: If possible, sure, but the room it will be going into tends to get very hot in the summer so heat management could be an issue. also, I don't know jack about overclocking.
SLI or Crossfire: Yes. I run 3 monitors.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 I think. I run max resolution on my 24" in the middle and run a lower resolution on my two 19" standard ratio LCDs on the sides of it.
Additional Comments: I would like to be able to run Crysis 2 on max settings at 60 FPS. That's kind of the benchmark I'm using in my head. I don't know if that's still considered difficult with mid range hardware. Also, I do qualify for the AMD retailpro website's employee purchase program. I'm not sure when their next deal is gonna happen (supposed to be this summer), but if it's worth waiting for, I'd be willing to extend my time frame.
A decent gaming build at that budget usually wouldn't be a problem but the fact that it has to be SLI/Crossfirfe will make it a struggle. For the graphics performance you want, i think youre gonna need to go for GTX 460 1GB's or HD 6850's, depending which is cheapest. To do that i think youre going to have to go for an AMD CPU as theyre good bang for your buck at the low-mid range. Youre going to want to go for something like this:
AMD Phenom II x4 965 - $134.99
2x2GB G.Skill Ripjaws X - $34.99
2 x EVGA GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB OR HIS HD 6850 1GB - $159.99 each
ASRock 970 EXTREME4 AM3+ - $104.99
XFX Core Edition PRO650W - $89.99
Seagate Barracuda 500GB - $39.99
Antec 300 - $59.45
Win 7 - $99
Total - $873.38 Before Shipping and Rebates
This is quite a lot over your budget so if you can't afford to do that i would personally lose one of the GPU's and make do with 2 monitors until you can afford to buy your second GPU. This is because i can't really see anything in there that i think you should try to save money on.
I'm okay without doing the SLi/Crossfire if I can get a card that does 3 monitors. Honestly, though, if you tell me I can build a kick ass machine with only one monitor at around that price, then I can go without the 3 for a little while until I can afford to upgrade down the road. My two other monitors are older LCDs that I only use for homework (i.e. assignment on one screen, Google on one, Word on the other, etc.), so they don't require anything fancy displaying to them.
In that case i would go for z-4's build, if you can afford it i definitely recommend the i5-2500k/P67 over the i5-2400/H67 though. You can get like +40-50% more CPU performance for like another $70 then $40ish for a cooler. Obviously you can just buy the cooler in a few years when you actually need to overclock.
P.S. Do you need to include the price of an OS in the build?
Even without overclocking the i5-2400 will outperform any Phenom II on air or water in games. You will not be able to tell the difference between a i5-2500K at 5Ghz and a stock i5-2400 during games in the foreseeable future.
Yeah not for another 2 years at least but its good to know that if you spend that bit extra now, instead of buying a new CPU when this one starts to get old you can instead get a cheap cooler and get a 30-40% overclock out of it.
So I took a look at the parts you guys recommended, and I worked out a build of my own. It got a little pricier than I had hoped, so I was wondering if you guys had some suggestions? I dunno if there are equal quality parts for less or if the parts I chose are good enough.
Wow i didn't realise the Phenoms were THAT far behind, it thought quad core was the standard for gaming now and that an i3 wouldn't do it. Seemed like they were just a reasonable and cheap quad. Sorry for suggesting it.
EDIT: The i3 is even cheaper than the Phenom too! (Where i come from) Wow AMD, catch up! Seems like theres no reason to ever go with AMD unless maybe for a low end workstation or something.
Anyway as i and everyone else has said, if you can afford the i5-2500k it's a no brainer.
If youre wanting to save money though, you could definitely get a cheaper motherboard than that because you don't need x8/x8 SLI compatibility on a 520W PSU unless youre considering upgrading it in future. Also, 4GB of RAM is fine for now and it's easy (and cheap) to upgrade in future.
in answer to this, nobody will support a phenom if your primary usage is gaming, the i3-2100 will top a phenom and phenom is about 3 generations behind (45nm chip) IMO
I know AMD is far behind Intel (sandy-bridge especially) but I don't think that for high performance gaming you need Intel only. I have a Phenom II X6 CPU and Radeon 6970 _and_ I can get 35+FPS on 1080p in Crysis-2 with DX11 patch at really high settings.
So you can't say its 3 generations behind; Intel had CPUs until January this year which were on 45nm architecture (and those are still in production).
yeah sorry, that 3 gen behind thing was a bit misleading for the 45nm revision. i was referring to the intel core 2 quad q9xxx when i was saying that it was 3 gen behind (performance wise). IMO on this budget, go for i5-2400 and p67 with 5770. that might stretch the budget though... i'll see what i can do