This is my first build. My experience is limited to installing various PC components.
Approximate Purchase Date: In the next month
Budget Range: < $1,800 BEFORE monitor purchase(s); I want to ‘future proof’ as much as possible within budget range.
Budget Range for monitors: < $700; will be bought along the way within the next 6 months.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: School (EE Undergrad -- Multitasking , Cadence, ETAP, JMAG, P-Spice, etc), Gaming, Internet, and HTPC (would like to have an Internal BD Multi-Drive player coupled with surround sound support -- take the place of an A/V receiver for a secondary home entertainment room (man cave).
Parts Not Required: Entire build will be necessary; my last desktop was from 11 years ago.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Bestbuy (I have $400 in gift cards); Newegg; no preference beyond that, I am open to a deal from anywhere that won’t nail me with shipping.
Country: US – NC
Parts Preferences: I have been away from the PC world for quit some time. I have tried to catch up this last month or so by intently reading suggestions on other builds and trying to get a good base of knowledge on the different components but I there’s a lot out there to soak in. I am not partial to any one brand, so I will be open to any considerations. This is the build I have come up with through my limited reading:
PSU - Corsair AX 850 I do not plan to frequently make additions or modifications to my build and a case with a transparent window is not a ‘must’ for my build. However, a PSU is something I commonly see being reused, and I would think this product would be a small part of the ‘future proof’ components of my build. With this said, is a modular PSU an ignorant choice that is just adding unneeded costs?
Case - HAF X Another ‘future proof’ component. I am thinking if I get a full size case with USB 3.0, then I will be able to keep this case until I get tired of looking at it. Also, I was thinking if/when I decide to run CX GPU then I will need no other additions besides another GPU.
Motherboard – ASUS P8Z68-V/Gen3 (I have compared the spec sheets on this and the deluxe/pro editions but did not find any additions that I would utilize; correct me if I am wrong)
Video Card – Radeon 6950 2GB I have a few questions on this. I eventually want to have a 3 monitor set up. I am under the impression 2 GB of VRAM is the most efficient way to go for this (true?). I am open to any suggestions on video card, with the ultimate goal to have a three monitor setup, and since I do not have any monitors worth mentioning, resolution is not a factor in video card decision. Would this card enable me to output via HDMI to a 59” Plasma 1080p Samsung for BD play?
Optical Drive – Bluray needs to be apart of this if the above question is positive (or an alternative suggested video card would suffice for all desired system uses). A quick confirmation question on the BD though: Bluray firmware updates are for the software playing the media, not for the hardware, correct? So the use of an aftermarket Bluray software media player would eliminate bad reviews concerning BD optical drives in regards to firmware updates?
Storage Drive – I would like an SSD for OS and limited software storage (limited software storage to help save on price). I have run upon the big SATA3/SATA2 battle, and would like to know if there would even be a noticeable performance difference between the two for what I intend to use the drive for. As far as the HDD is concerned: I am a big fan of the use of an external hard drive and do not wish to store any documents, media, etc on my internal HDD. Would a big HDD still be recommended? I see the Samsung F3 or similar 1 TB HDDs being commonly recommended and would like to know if there is a reason for this if I do not intend to store ANY data outside of the obvious (saved game data, codecs, etc).
Sound Card - Would one be necessary to output quality sound (5.1 - If the HTPC is going to be feasible with this build).
Overclocking: Yes (I have no overclocking experience)
SLI or Crossfire: In the future
Monitor Resolution: No preference
Additional Comments: quiet would be preferred if the PC is to be used for HTPC
6950 2GB isn't going to push Eyefinity (3 monitor) resolutions. Short of a 6990 (which doesn't do it well) there isn't a single card out today that will including the latest 7970. This is an advanced subject and one that you'll really need to research deep.
Things to research: Crossfire, Micro-stutter, Landscape vs Portrait, TN vs IPS, 16:10 vs 16:9, and finally Displayport (or adapters).
Widescreen Gaming is an excellent source if you're considering this route. I do heavily recommend it as it represents the single largest immersion upgrade I've personally ever made, but do it the right way. There's nothing that'll make the baby Jesus cry faster than a cheap Eyefinity setup.
I'm surprised at the GPU you choose. With an $1,800 budget I was expecting to see a Titan or a 7990. At the very least I would have guessed a GTX 780 or an HD7970 Especially considering your goal of multi-monitor. My understanding is that for extended desktops/multi monitors more VRAM is essential.
As for future proofing, its not really a sound concept as the best way to "future proof" is to make sure you have a motherboard that can support future upgrades while hoping that you don't buy right before a new technology like USB 4.0, DDR4, PCI 4.0 comes out and/or reaches widespread adoption. It's also a bit trickier with Intel CPU's because Intel doesn't use the same socket for each CPU, though there are a few high end 1155's that will come down in price in the future.
I can vouch for this motherboard as it's the one I'm currently using (ASRock Z77 Extreme6) Only $15 more and rated higher on NewEgg by a full star/egg.
With that said why not spring for the i5-3570k?
Power supply to support future dual GPU setups while providing headroom is one of the few sound means of future proofing so good choice on the Corsair 850.