Looking for Advice on $900-$1200 Gaming Rig

This is my first venture back into building in quite some time (it's been 7~8 yrs) and as such, I feel a bit out of the loop. But I've been spending the last week or so researching and putting together a build that may be fine, but I'd like to know if some improvements can be made without increasing the cost substantially (or even better, lowering it). I also want to make sure everything is compatible. I'd much rather spend a few extra days getting help on my build now, than be returning parts and what not later.

This rig will be primarily used for gaming (WoW, SC2, Diablo III, SWTOR, ME3, etc), as well as light video/graphics work, every day computing, and entertainment purposes.

I'm prefering to buy this all at once, as I'm trying to use something like tiger direct's payment plan. If I don't get approved for that however, I'll be building over the course of the next 4-6 weeks. I came into this planning to spend at least $900, but I really don't want to go over $1200. The current list of parts, plus a new windows 7 64 disc/license, is ~$1000. I'd like to have $80-100 left to buy a new monitor, I still use a CRT on my old desktop.

I'd also like help choosing a case that will fit everything I need, has good airflow, and is preferably under $100 (that + parts + monitor = 1200). If it's on the upper end, I want to be paying for fans and good ventilation, not looks, a plain jane case, maybe with a window, is fine. I'm having a friend who does comics airbrush it for me later. I'm open to a different PSU to get a case/PSU combo of course, so long as it's a reliable one and meets my needs.

List of Currently Selected Parts
MSI P67A-GD53 B3 Intel P67 Motherboard - ATX, Socket H2 (LGA1155), Intel P67 Express, DDR3 2133MHz (O.C.), SATA 6.0 Gb/s, Gigabit LAN, CrossFire/SLI Ready, USB 3.0

Intel Core i5-2500K BX80623I52500 Unlocked Processor - Quad Core, 6MB L3 Cache, 1MB L2 Cache, 3.30 GHz (3.70 GHz Max Turbo), Socket H2 (LGA1155), 95W, Fan, Retail

Corsair CMX16GX3M4A1333C9 XMS3 Desktop Memory Kit - 16GB (4x 4GB), PC3-10666, DDR3-1333MHz, 9-9-9-24 CAS Latency, 240-pin DIMM, 1.5V, Unbuffered

XFX HD-685X-ZCFC Radeon HD 6850 Video Card - 1GB, GDDR5, PCI-Express 2.1 (x16), 2x DVI, 2x Mini DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, DirectX 11, Dual-Slot, Eyefinity, CrossFireX Ready

XFX P1750SNLB9 Core Edition Power Supply - 750W, 80 Plus Bronze, 135mm Fan, Active PFC, Single +12V Rail

Western Digital WD10EALX Caviar Blue Hard Drive - 1TB, 3.5", SATA 6Gbps, 7200 RPM, 32MB

Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X Internal DVD Burner - DVD±R 24X, DVD+RW 8X, DVD-RW 6X, DVD±R (DL) 12X, DVD-RAM 12X, CD-R 48X, CD-RW 32X, SATA, 2MB, Black, OEM

After a few months I intend to finish the build with another GPU, HDD, SSD Boot/Windows Drive, and secondary cooling for the CPU for overclocking, but that just doesn't seem to be in the budget right now. Of course my PSU, MB, and Case all need to accommodate for this future expansion. Any parts recommendations for this part of the build would also be appreciated (particularly in the arena of cooling).

I do not need any peripherals besides the monitor.

I also have a question about CrossfireX, I understand that it links the two GPU's together, but do they both need to be the same? Do I have to buy another Radeon HD 6850 if I want to CFX it or could I use the 6850 in conjunction with a higher end card during the second part of my build?

I think I've gone on long enough, hopefully I got everything in there. I'm open to any suggestions, information, or questions. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and advice.
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  1. I seem to have messed up and made it a question/answer thread instead of discussion topic, if a mod could change that and then delete this request that would be awesome, I don't seem to be able to find an edit post button.
  2. Well if your going to be doing editing and video work on this machine like you said then i would HIGHLY recomend a card with a little more Memory than the 1 gig. the 6950 2gb version is nice and only slightly more expensive, you shouldnt have a problem with that one. the CPU if you want to go cheap would be better to get over to the AMD side of the tracks. the http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5692033&Sku=A79-1965
    will give you a slightly reduced computing speed but give you a better gaming experince. if your into OC then go with the i5. AMD is only to save money and get a slightly less performance out of the system. 16 Gb isnt really necessary i would say. 8Gb should suffice more than enough. I would go with the AMD if i were you. a good mobo to go with that would be the Gigabyte 970a-d3 or ud3 is a nice board and around 119 bucks on newegg. a system like that would give you head room for a while and keep up with most games on relativly high settings and at the same time would allow you to have a decent computing power for what you need....

    as far as the Crossfire goes... as long as the card GPU is the same you cant go wrong... watch this vid. great advice on Crossfire configes. his channel should answer all your questions regaurding this.
  3. Thank you for the video, explained everything I wanted to know.

    I am planning to OC the CPU in stage 2 of my build, hence the decison to go with i5 2500k. As with building a PC, I haven't OCed in a very long time either, and I'd like to get my feet wet again before possibly ruining my brand new system. That and the desire to save some money atm are why I'm saving it for the second phase.

    As for the video card, I'm only doing very light graphics/video work, hobbyist, not professional, so I'm more worried about gaming performance than anything from it, I"m not trying to do high end video editing or anything. My choice of the 6850 stems from it's ratings over on the passmark benchmarking website. It's one of the highest rated value for performance cards that also has decent rating on the high end benchmark chart.

    Stepping up to the 6950 2gig would be, at the cheapest, another ~$60 from what I can tell(+ there's a $30 rebate on the card I've chosen as well), which could be mostly made up by dropping down to 8gigs of RAM, but will I need to step up my PSU from the current one in order to eventually power two 6950s?

    On that note, is 750w really going to be enough for this rig in general? I used the calc over at http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp and it's telling my I only need ~450w with two 6850s, ~550 with two 6950's. No overclock settings were used for these calculations. Is this really the case? If so, then could I step down to a 650 and still have plenty of headroom for OC and extra cooling without running it to near capacity?
  4. This is $1,249

    Case - $ 105 - Antec 902 V3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129097
    PSU - $ 90 - XFX Core Edition 850 V2 PSU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817207011
    MoBo - $ 190 - ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131792
    CPU - $ 220 - Intel Core i5-2500K http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
    Cooler - Later - Scythe Mugen 3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
    RAM - $ 50 - (2 x 4GB) Corsair CAS 9 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233196
    GFX - $ 225 - Asus GTX 560 Ti 900 Mhz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121425
    GFX - Later - Same
    HD - $ 80 - Seagate 7200.12 750 GB 7200 rpm http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148789
    SSD - Later - OCZ Vertex 3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227706
    DVD Writer - $ 19 - Asus 24X http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204
    OS - $ 100 - Win 7-64 Home Pre http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986
    Monitor - $ 170 - ASUS VH242H 23.6" LED http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236052

    Now, the "later" options, should ya decide to go hog wild:

    1. The SSD would add $170 and total out at $1,469
    2. The 2nd GFX card would add $225 and total out at $1524
    3. The Cooler would add $50 and total out at $1299

    All told you will be just under $1700 when done.

    I'd do the SSD and grab the 2nd GFX card for XMas :)

    Two of these 560's get 862 fps in Guru3D's gaming test suite ... they can be overclocked another 11 or 12 %.

    Two factor overclocked 6950's (Twin Frozr) will get you only 759 fps.....and cost $30 more

    I went with the 850 as it's it's better suited for OC'd GFX and CPU and only costs $5 more than the 750 watter.
  5. Do you have a microcenter nearby? if so, I can give you an extremely powerful computer for less because of the processor prices there. At microcenter, a 2500k is $180. You can also pick up a 1.5 TB 5400 rpm HDD for only $75 that can cache with a 60gb ssd for a performance increase.
    If not, newegg shall suffice for prices (just barely).

    Advice and Questions:
    16gb of Ram is OVERKILL
    more than 600w is not needed if you wont crossfire or SLI
    Crossfire and SLI are over kill for up to 1080p if you are willing to scale down to med/high instead of ultra
    Get an 60gb ssd for Z68 ssd caching, it will make everyday computing much better
    Do you need SLI/Crossfire?
    Do you need it immediately? Currently, hard drive prices are through the roof because of disasters, and are a bad value?
    How large a hard drive do you need?


    microcenter parts

    This is good enough for well more than light video editing and gaming.
    Trust me. In the worst case, you can overclock the graphics and CPU for a good performance boost.

    After all the rebates, it is less than $1050.
  6. HDD prices are really insane. I bought a Spinpoint F3 for my brother just a month ago and it was 30 €, now it costs 100+ €.
    I would very much advise not to buy a HDD unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. Get a spare HDD from a friend or smth, or buy a 120 GB SSD and add the HDD later.
  7. Sorry, was out for the evening. I'm aware of the floods over in thailand driving up HDD prices, but my old desktop is going to my roommate and my other comp's a laptop, so unfortunately, yes I do need to buy one, and considering the difference between 1TB and lower isn't really significant, unless you go way down ($10 savings for half the space isn't worth it to me) might as well go with it.

    I didn't get approved for the payment plan thing I was trying to do, so it no longer matters where the parts come from, I'll be buying these over the course of the next 4-8 weeks at wherever I can get the best deals, but I definitely want to be done by the end of that time frame provided nothing goes wrong monetarily.

    Thanks also about the micro center, didn't even know about them. I do indeed have one out in Denver, easily worth the 45 min drive just to save $40 on the processor alone.

    So I need to modify my list a bit since I'm now going piecemeal over the next couple months. I'd like to grab pretty much everything except the second GPU and second HDD. Whether XF/SLI is overkill or not right now doesn't really matter, I'd like the build to last awhile.

    That being said, I agree about the RAM and I'm switching to 2x4Gigs. I can put in two more 4gigs, or upgrade to 4x8's later when I find I need more. I routinely max out the 4Gigs on my laptop right now, so that's why my first thought was to go for broke on the RAM.

    My $1200 max is now probably more like $1300-$1400, excluding the second graphics card and any other future upgrades. That doesn't mean I want to spend that much, but I have much more leeway with the budget, and some time to find some deals. I am thinking I should grab the HDD now though, considering prices are only going to continue to go up. Are there any manufacturer's that will not be affected by this? Otherwise I would think we'll be waiting a lot more than my build time for the prices to come back down.

    I'll get back with an updated list soon. Thanks for the help so far everyone.
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