Going to be doing my first build and wanted to get everyone's thoughts. I am going the Micro ATX route so I can take to LANs etc. However, this will be my main computer as well, so I want to have stability and quality. I will be doing very conservative overclocking if at all. Build will most likely be a few weeks from now when non-reference 7970s start showing up.
Approximate Purchase Date: A few weeks
Budget Range: ~$1500 Before / After Rebates
System Usage: Gaming
Parts Not Required: No need for peripherals, monitor, Windows OS, or extra case fans (Got those already)
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: New Egg
SLI or Crossfire: Eventually. I want to have the flexibility to grab another 7970 and Crossfire if I want the boost.
Getting the i5-2500k is a strange choice if you are not interested in OCing. The great value of that processor is its overclockability. More than that--you should be able to OC it to a rock-solid stable 4.0GHz (ultra conservative given that its turbo frequency is 3.7) by barely doing anything, since you're going with an aftermarket cooler.
Also, not that the i5-2500k is not a great processor--it is--but it's not a great ultra-high-end processor. You'll wind up with a pretty serious gap between your processor and your video card if you get a 7970. That is even more true if you are planning on crossfiring two (!!!!) 7970s. Remember, you can't crossfire your processor. You are going to need to buy a new processor to keep up with dual 7970s.
I guess what I'm saying is, if you are already planning on dropping 1500 bucks on a computer overall, you might consider upgrading your processor to an i7-2600k or -2700k (if you can find a good deal).
...one last thing. Your processor choice also makes me wonder why you are intent on getting the beefiest video card of them all. Why not go 6970 or even 6950? Those will be easy to crossfire and will provide killer performance on any modern game. Right now, it is really not necessary to go above a single 6970 unless you are sure you'll be doing 2560x1600 or multiple monitors or whatever.
Went with the K as I may overclock, although I wont be testing any limits as I want to keep temps very low. (I am being conservative till I know the cooling ability of the case w/ the card and fan set up)
As for the 2500k, its plenty of juice for the current gen, but affordable enough that I wont have to cringe when the ivy bridge releases later this year.
Lots of the choices I made is due to creating the platform that future tech can build on. For example, the current build doesnt need anywhere near 850w, but if I do end up OCing and go Crossfire ill be thankful I dont need to repurchase a PSU. I picked a motherboard with PCI 3.0 slots as the 7970 is 3.0 capable, and when ivy bridge does release, ill be totally set on that front. I know there is debate as to how much of an upgrade 3.0 will be, but eh why not? And yes, the 7970 is a lot of juice for a single 1920x1080. But I will be sitting pretty for a good while I imagine. And if I crossfire that puppy I will have a mini nuke of performance!
^ You'll be fine Bakadayo, if you bottleneck, a slight OC would fix that easily. The Hyper 212 Evo @ only $30ish could get the 2500K to about 4.4ghz easy and still run it cool with room to spare. So that's if 7970's bottleneck, not likely though since a 2500K can handle 2x580 and the 7970 is slightly better than a single 580 (ehh more like a larger margin than slight but still similar)
As for PSU, I do suggest going with the Silverstone just to save money so you can use it on other areas. The motherboard I don't really recommend PCI 3.0, the main reason is because although 7970 is 3.0 CAPABLE, the key word is Capable, it will most likely use PCI 2.0 since no board supports PCI 3.0 by itself. Even all the Gen3 boards that are out now need the Ivy Bridge chip to be able to utilize PCI 3.0 so I would say even once Ivy Bridge came out, you'd already have a single PCI 2.0 7970 might as well get another one.
But remember the hyper 212 evo is a really big cooler. In my setup i have a Rosewill Gear X3 (wich is a pretty big mi-tower) and there is only about 0.5 CM between the door panel and the cooler itself. I really doubt it will fit in a microATX case.
Again thanks for the help. I have been looking at the XFX Core and the and rethinking my preference to modular. The XFX Core after mail-in would give me $70 in savings! Also the Silverstone is modular and gold rated at a cheaper price, but is 750w. From the looks of the reviews on 7970 it seems a bit easier on power consumption than the 580, so I imagine I could get away with 750 if I did ever Crossfire+OC.
Id like to ask you to explain a bit more about PCI 3.0. I am not too well read on the topic, and I thought I was just future proofing. As it stands w/ the mobo and 7970, I wouldnt be utilizing the 3.0 technology? However if I upgrade to ivy bridge I could as I would have mobo, cpu, and gpu that are all capable?
Just saw this deal of the day. 850w, modular, bronze rated $90. Seems like I should just jump on this and hold it till I get the build done. (Even though my hero Paul from Newegg says to buy all at once)
PCI 3.0 is future proofing, however Gen3 isn't your average PCI controller, it requires an Ivy Bridge chip in order to utilize it. 7970 may be 3.0 capable but I wouldn't say that all the 7970's coming out will use PCI 3.0 especially since AMD themselves haven't released any PCI 3.0 boards for Bulldozer.
If you upgraded to Ivy Bridge, then Gen3 becomes useful, but at that point you'll already be running 1 7970 that's using PCI 2.0 why not just get another that will use 2.0? So that's my reasoning.
I had seen this PSU too and i was actually just about to recommend it to you. Especially since you have a small case a modular PSU will help you a lot with cable management.
If you want to take full advantage of the bandwith of PCI-E 3.0 of you're 7970, you will have to upgrade to Ivy Bridge. Sandy Bridge does not support PCI-E 3.0 but you will be able to run the 7970 in you're Sandy Bridge build you just won't get the additional Bandwith of PCI-E 3.0.