I'm buying a few pieces at a time, so far all I've gotten are the case and power supply. I realize I should have made this thread before buying anything, but better late than never.
My main concern so far is whether I screwed up by getting a 750w power supply rather than 850w.
Those are the items.
I'd love some input on whether these were good choices, and my concern about the wattage comes from thinking that I may do my first ever dual video card setup. I have an Asus G73 laptop that I use currently, and that will be what I continue to take with me when I go out on deployments on my submarine, but this will be my real powerhouse back home I'm hoping. I want to do it up right. I chose these 2 items because they were rated highly on newegg.
Will a 750w be enough to run 2 Nvidia cards? I have an ATI card in the laptop and wanted to give Nvidia another try. I like to alternate.
I'd also love any advice on motherboard in particular, but also processor, everything really. I know this is very vague and a lot to ask. The only thoughts I can provide for guidance are that I am doing a few pieces at a time so I can afford to spend more on each, but still don't want to get *totally* ridiculous on price. If I can keep the whole system under $2000 that would be cool, but if it's not possible I'll deal with it.
I play a lot of computer games, I would ideally like to be able to hook up to both my 27" Dell monitor and my 40" Samsung LED TV (which I currently use for most gaming, lot of Skyrim) but of course 1920x1200 and 1920x1080 don't exactly play well together when I try to clone the image so I guess I need something that can spit out the image at 2 resolutions, maybe? I'm not saying I need to see a game on both monitors at once... just would like to be able to use either interchangeably.
I'm going to do a solid state HD at least for Windows, may not be practical given my space requirements to do it for anything more than that. I guess I'll need to buy another copy of Windows 7 64bit too.
But yea, I've been at this PC gaming thing since 1989 but I've always sort of skirted around the edge of really truly knowing that much, I've put together a few systems but usually have had help and guidance. I have not been keeping up with video cards, etc for some time now. Hence my asking for help. I know I could just go research it but I like interacting with others.
750W is enough for 2 570s, and possibly 2 580s (though that is dangerous talk as it would be right at the limit). I personally went with a 750W intending to get a 2nd 570 in a few years.
GPU: Depending on your setup you may want to consider using one screen or the other, or doing a simple cable swap instead of running both interchangeably. Of course you could run both monitors... I am just having a tough time imagining a setup where both could be used nicely together given the drastic difference in size. At 1080p or 1200p you could max out most games with a 570, and 2 would really do the trick. A single 560ti would be fine for most things, and again 2 of them would really cook things up. Due to power restraints I would avoid a duel 580 setup though. If you have the budget I would go for a single 570 now, and grab another in a year after the 600 series is out and prices drop. This way you can spend more money on SSD space, and max out that PSU you bought.
Processor: General rule of thumb is a core i5 for games, and an i7 for production work. Benchmarks conclude that there is no practical difference between the Sandy bridge processors and the big brother Sandy Bridge E series (unless doing something crazy like quad SLI), so I would stick with an i5 2500 or 2500K if you are an overclocker (personally I see little reason to OC as it brings minimal performance gains compared to the noise and heat generated, as well as the potential to shorten the chip's life... but that is just me).
Mobo: For a motherboard I would suggest something with a p67 or z68 chipset. Both will offer similar raw performance, while the z68 offers the ability to use the iGPU for rendering and transcoding video, as well as SSD caching. z68 boards are also considered 'high end' boards so they tend to have other better features as well (more/better fan controllers, LED readouts, extra USB or USB3 ports, better raid and sound controllers, etc). I would suggest ASUS or ASRock for z68, or MSI for a p67 board. ~$120-150
Ram: Ram is cheap, so buy a bunch! DDR3 1600 8GB of ram costs $40-50. You can do 16GB but you will never touch it for gaming (hell, you likely wont touch more than 5GB in gaming), and more than 8GB can cause a decrease in game performance (though not enough to be truly concerned). All brands are roughly equal. Personally I like Corsair, but if some other name brand was on sale at the time of purchase I would not pass it by.
SSD: go with a minimum of 120GB. If you are like me and cannot fit everything in 120GB then partition it in half. Partition 1 will be your OS/core program drive, and partition 2 can be used as a cache for a larger mechanical drive (note, this is only for z68 boards) so that you will still get a performance boost on reads of often used files, but still have space for large amounts of programs/documents. Obviously, if you can afford a larger SSD and put everything on it then that would be preferred, but SSD caching is a great alternative for the budget minded.
HDD: wait on this if possible as HDD prices are finally tanking. Just 2 months ago I was looking at some 2TB drives for $80 each, when I went to buy them the price had spiked to $250 each, but they are finally back down in the $150 range and dropping steadily. If you can scavenge an old HDD in the short term I would suggest it, and then upgrade the HDD next fall or winter when things get back to normal. I traditionally like seagate, but lately Samsung has caught my eye with their F3 and F4 series.
PSU: What you got should be great, though I would test it in someone's system right away to verify that it works properly. It should, but it is much easier/faster to RMA through a reseller than the manufacturer.
Case: a little gaudy, but it's an excellent choice. I'm saving my pennies for a white corsair (not sure which one yet), they look really slick and a little less industrial, but to each his own.
CPU cooler: There are many to choose from, and while I have always loved Zalman for their ridiculous use of copper, I have to say that the crowd favorite of the hyper 212+ is cheaper, quieter, and more effective than almost anything out there, so it is the way to go unless looks are a concern. If not OCing then an aftermarket cooler is completely unnecessary as the stock cooler is quite good (all be it very small). But the aftermarket coolers are even quieter, and crazy effective on cold processors like the Sandy Bridge series.
So, that's about it! Here is a sample parts list to get you started:
GTX 570 by EVGA, you may get more bang for you buck going AMD, but I am no authority on AMD boards (their naming scheme makes my head spin) so you would have to ask someone else for a specific board recomendation. Keep in mind that new AMD boards come out (came out?) this month, and new nvidia boards will come out in March/April if you are willing to wait.
$320ea, $640 total