I am looking to build a budget gaming box, mostly for SWTOR, but I am looking to get away from my Xbox and back into PC gaming. For now, I'd like to keep the build in the $500-600 range. I recently found an i7 920/X58 combo on craigslist for $200, and I could add 1x3GB of ram and a 4870x2 for another $100. I realize that the 9xx i7 are about to be two generations old, but is it still a wise place to start a build in 2012?
Yeah, I just did some more research into CPU benches and an i3 2120 runs games just just about as well, and I could get that CPU and a good entry level board for close to the same price, and stil be able to upgrade later to a better SB, or even an Ivy Bridge processor later.
Huh? For $200 an i7 920 system is a steal. It performs very well by modern standards and has the advantage of being one of the most overclockable chips in history. The i3 2120 is only dual core and granted, while it might perform as well in most games, it will undoubtedly start to suffer if there are any background tasks. Also, for most games there are very few GPU set ups that ask more than the i7 920 can deliver.
I'm an inveterate tinkerer as well as a demanding PC user and will upgrade my system as soon as there's a good enough excuse to do so. Yet I've not seen any reason to upgrade my i7 920, which has purred along merrily at 4GHz since the day I bought it in 2009. I'm longing for the day when a new CPU/mobo combination will produce a really big performance upgrade, but that day has yet to arrive. Ivy maybe -we'll see.
But in answer to your question and i7 920/x58 combo for $200 is a great deal. My only other piece of advice is that a 4870 x2 is looking a little weak these days. You can probably find a pair of GTX 460 SLIs quite cheaply these days and will give you substantially better performance.
Not really wise in my opinion if you want to build a system that will still keep up pretty well several years from now. If $500-$600 is a hard budget number that you have set for yourself to build something that will just get you through most of this year, then, I don't know, there might be some sense in that, if you need a decent quad core right now for gaming, and then plan to splurge at a later point for a more current, top-of-the-line build, if you know that you will have more disposable income for these sort of things in the near future. What complicates it even more is Ivy is coming out fairly soon, now - Sandy Bridge is going to get knocked down to 2nd place (how far depends on the performance of the Ivy chips) so that leaves Nehalem processors even farther back. Sorry if I muddled things even more.
The $500-600 is fairly set in stone, since I want a system sooner rather than later. However, I do have a decent % of my monthly budget set aside for gaming, and I am in a position to be able to upgrade components on a semi-regular basis. Thats why I'd rather have a P67-Z68 board, so I could upgrade to a better Sandy Bridge or even an Ivy bridge CPU when they drop into my sub-$200 sweet spot.