It's been a long old time since I last posted here. But here's my current set up:
RAIDMAX SMILODON Extreme Black ATX-612WEBP
GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Mobo
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale (not OC'd)
Win7 x64, 4 gb of RAM (DDR2 800), some DVD-R/W (Samsung maybe?), 1 1TB HD and 1 .5TB HD (no Raid or anything) and viewing on a Dell 21" 1680x1050 monitor. Oh and like a 1TB external HD.
Naturally, viewing the BF3 video gives my eyes a warm tingly feeling and my wallet a certain achiness.
First, my budget is like $500 plus or minus. Not a hard figure but I don't want to spend a grand to do a total rebuild (nor do I think I need to but I'll let you all be the judges). I'm passing on a monitor for now but, hey, Xmas is around the corner -- I say this thinking about how my GPU will need to scale.
Second is my hypothesis that moving up to an LGA775 quad core is a waste since (a) they were never particularly that much better than dual core and (b) the new quad cores are far better.
Third is what I thought I might do:
• i5 2500K ($220) -- I'd probably do stock cooling and see how much OC I could get that way and upgrade cooling down the road if need be
• MSI P67A-G43 ($130) -- I'd rather find a cheaper MOBO if possible; I have never upgraded a CPU on the same mobo because I tend to use them for well beyond a chipset's reasonable lifespan (see LGA775)
• Radeon HD6950 ($240) -- naturally, most unsure of what to do here; clearly my current monitor this works more than necessary but if I upgrade... I also "fear" Crossfiring as it I tend to worry about spending too much effort managing heat and box configuration and all. But that's a position of ignorance not experience.
Not sure what to say about my RAM. Is the DDR2 800 that big an impact these days? I see that 2x2GB of DDR3 1600 is like $50 so it's not a huge issue but it's still $50.
All in all, about $600 before RAM. Is that a good build? A worthwhile upgrade? And, most importantly, will it rock BF3? Oh the price we pay...
I would suggest the i5-2500k for your upgrade because it is the best cpu for gaming at the moment and has great OCing potential. I would not recommend using the stock cooler for overclocking that. Get the cheap but very respectful hyper 212+ for $30 if you OC. The 6950 will be just fine IMO for Battlefield 3....but at the same time it's also hard to say without seeing official specs for it. You could do some CF 6870's or 6850's and get better performance than the 6950. Also for OCing P67's can do the job but z68's were made better for it.
whats your PSU size?
Crossfire 6870's around $350
CrossFire 6850's around $300-$310
so the 6950 is more in your budget range but could be out classed by a little but more $
I see why you would be worried by the heat of dual cards but it can be resolved by decent cooling in your case. If you have a side mounted fan then use it to blow air on the cards. When you choose a motherboard try and choose one with the PCIE slots spaced far enough apart so the cards don't sit right on top of each other
This is a P67 you posted above is good enough for the job. It's hard to find anything any better that is cheaper. I would not get anything less than 2 PCIEx16 slots than run x16 and x8 just in case you wanted the CF upgrade in the future. It would save money in the long run.
Honestly you do not have to get DDR3 1600 to have a great computer. 4GB of DDR3 1333 would be a good enough upgrade from DDR2 for now.
What's the advantage of the z68 in oc'ing? Just easier setting tweaks? Temp monitoring?
At the moment I'm using the 500W psu that came with my Raidmax case. No issues to date but I'd imagine that CF would change that. If I hold off on CF for now, would the 2500k put any undue draw on the psu?
Three main differences between z68 and p67: z68 has Integrated graphics on the CPU (IGP), Intel's Quick Sync for faster video transcoding, and Intel's Smart Response Technology (SRT) which is SSD caching.
OCing was said to have been improved through the new boards. Either way you go paired with the 2500k will be good.
From a toms article: Overclocking on Z68 is identical to P67. The only other additional benefit you get is access to the HD Graphics 2000/3000 engine's clocks.
I have just been told by people that they have seen better clocks with them.