Hello — I know a lot of folks are reaching out for info. just like this, so I really appreciate your reading and any input offered. I'll try and keep this simple.
Looking to modernize my current PC. It's served me very well, but it's time. Some of the components are fine as is, so they'll be staying. My current build:
Motherboard: Gigabyte 965P-DS3
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2400 MHz
CPU-Fan: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
RAM: Corsair 2GB Kit DDR2-800 XMS2-6400 Xtreme Performance Memory
Case: Thermaltake MAMBO NO PS VC2000 BNS
OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 5.01.2600 Service Pack 3 x32-bit
PSU: Corsair HX Series CMPSU-620HX 620W Power Supply
GPU: Gigabyte GeForce GTX460-1 GB GDDR5 PCIE2 GV-N460OC-1GI
HD: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB Serial ATA II 7200RPM Hard Drive w/16MB Buffer
HD2: Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Blue SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD10EALX
DVD-R: ASUS DRW-2014L1T LS SATA DVD Burner
Monitor: DELL 21" P1130 Blk Flat Trinitron CRT Monitor (Sony FD Trinitron®)
Sound: CREATIVE SB AUDIGY 4 SE
Speakers: CREATIVE INSPIRE P7800-8PC SPK
Printer: HP Officejet Pro 8000 Wireless A809 Series
Mouse: Logitech G5 Laser Gaming Mouse - 2000Dpi
Keyboard: IBM Model M by Lexmark
Controller: Logitech G25 Racing Wheel
So, here's what I'm thinking (bear in mind that money isn't too much of a concern, thankfully, but I also don't like throwing it away on power I don't really need):
- New chip and motherboard. Like the idea of an Intel i7, though they are a bit pricey. Would an i5 be nearly as good?
- Keep my current GeForce GTX 460 1MB, buy a twin, and SLI them (so, need a dual-card mboard, which may be the standard now). My power supply is pretty beefy, so I expect it can handle the load.
- Upgrade RAM to 4GB of the latest (8, if it's warranted). No idea on brand.
- Add a solid state drive and keep my Caviar drives, which I like very much. No idea which brands offer the best perf./value.
- New case. Recommendations would be appreciated for good airflow, but quiet fans.
- Sound, I'll likely run off the mboard, but I have my current card if I need it.
- OS, I'll upgrade to Windows 7 (though reloading everything is a big reason I've stuck with my current setup for so long).
Specific hardware recommendations?
Any other thoughts, criticisms, tips would also be greatly appreciated. Please bear in mind that while the upgraded rig should be a performer based on the above, I'm actually not that demanding when it comes to resolutions and effects (often happy to run at medium settings).
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for gaming the i5 is about as good as it gets. The only difference between the i5 and i7 is the addition of hyperthreading, which games do not take advantage of. Also the i5 will OC better on average than the i7 (less heat due to the lack of HT), unless you are like me and just run everything stock.
SLI the GPU, good call
Splurge on 8GB of ram. The speed and timings do not really make much of a difference in the real world, but if you find a deal on 1600 ram that is only $5-10 more than 1333 then jump on it. 16GB of ram can hurt performance in some games (not sure why), so only go with 8GB with an option to buy 2 more sticks later.
SSD's will not add any performance to a games FPS, but they do dramaticly decrease load times. Go with an Intel, Crucial, or OCZ (just make sure the OCZ has current firmware as that can be a problem on some models). Go with size over raw speed. No matter what you will see a huge performance increase over a HDD, and it is more annoying to run out of space than it is to wait 1-2 sec for something big to load.
For budget cases I like Thermaltake's offerings, as well as their HAF series, but Corsair and other companies have some sweet cases too... it is all about preference of style, and options inside, so it's kinda hard to give advice on that.
mobo audio is great if you can run optical. But if running analogue then you will note a difference in quality between the Audigy4 and onboard. If that is the case then it is up to you do play with Creative's creative driver programming skills to get things to function properly.
Win7 is a nessessity if running an SSD or a DX11 GPU. There is a minor learning curve from XP, but if you liked Win2K then it will be a simple adjustment. Besides... win7 is so pretty!
Thanks so much for the thorough and thoughtful reply, Caedenv. Exactly what I was looking for.
Okay, so i5 2500 3.3 Sandy Bridge. For mobo, I like the look of the ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.1) LGA 1155 Intel P67.
RAM, I'll go 8 GB DDR3. Above mobo can take up to 2000, but not sure whether there is much difference between it and 1333 in speed. Also not sure of overclock considerations. The chances I'll OC are low, though. I usually just purchase an upgrade.
Great advice on SSD. I know performance isn't usually affected, but I seem to consistently play games that access the HD, so it is a factor.
I have been happy with my old Thermaltake case, but this was recommended for price and configuration: NZXT GAMMA GAMA-001BK.
Admittedly, I don't know the difference between analog and optical, and I certainly don't know Creative creative driver programming.
I am familiar with Win7 now, as I use it at work. Upgrading here from XP is a no-brainer. Beyond the SSD, I need to run DX11 (still running DX9c). And I run a 32-bit system to boot; it's time for 64-bit.
And I'd appreciate any further feedback. Still making specific decisions regarding individual parts.