Longtime lurker, first time poster here. I've done incremental upgrades to desktops before but this is going to be my first time building one from scratch. It's going to be used mainly for gaming as well as some spectral simulation work for my university research (which is fairly CPU intensive). All prices in Australian Dollars (A$). At today's rate 1 AUD = 1.04818 USD.
Approximate Purchase Date: Not going to buy everything in one go but over a few weeks hopefully culminating with the finished build by 31st March.
Budget Range: A$2000 - 2400 (Don't know much about the mail-in rebates and they usually have fine print against us international students ).
Parts Not Required: Mouse (Razer Orochi), Monitor (LG 27inch W2753V) and Speakers (Logitech Z323).
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: pccasegear.com seems to be the most popular in Australia with decent prices. Wish I could order from Newegg. Any other suggestions as to where I can buy from?
Country: Australia (Canberra).
Overclocking: Most likely depending on Uni work.
SLI or Crossfire: Eventually a few years down the line.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: Partial to Blue LEDs.
Current Specifications I have decided (very very open to critiques and suggestions, after all that is the point I guess)
NOTE: One card for now with a possible second 7970 an year or two down the line in Crossfire. Also, can you guys give me some recommendations on the different brands of the ATI cards? Which ones are the best. Heard good things about both XFX and Sapphire.
Motherboard: Haven't decided on one yet as I am not too familiar with the differences once you get past the socket type, RAM and I/O. Currently looking at this one - Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3R A$179
RAM: To be decided as well. I would most likely have 8GB of RAM minimum for now. Any suggestions? Also is the extra money for the Corsair Dominators worth it compared to the lower priced Corsairs? What are the differences there? How about G.Skill Ripjaws?
PSU: I used some online calculator depending on your PC configuration and the number it popped out for mine was 680W. So I'm thinking a decent PSU of 750W would be enough? Current one I've got lined up is Seasonic M12II 750W A$189
Case: Torn between NZXT Phantom USB 3.0 Black (A$179) and CoolerMaster Cosmos II (A$369). IMO the Phantom looks better but the CosmosII just seems like its a better build quality as well as having better features like tidier cable storage and roominess I guess. Open to other suggestions as well. Would like the flexibility of having additional water cooling down the line. Partial to black cases and Blue LED lights (Goes with my Razer mouse )
Well I dont know if you need the i7. The only difference between an i7 and i5 is that the i7 has hyper-threading, meaning for each physical core it has one virtual core. This is great for dual or single cores that need the extra power, but most work situations will be fine with 4 cores. Also you could just overclock the i5 2500k and still blaze past a stock 2600k. Your decision.
Also you should be fine with 8GBs of RAM, but again, I dont know exactly what you will be doing.
750 watts is fine. Normally highend gfx cards require alot of power, but as the die shrinks, so does the pwr hungryness
Also the Cosmos II is HUGE. So big that it might be a hassle. Look up a size comparison on youtube.
or any variety in between the different brands and such. So is there a considerable difference in the performances that are worth the price differences?
Also as mentioned before my main use will be gaming. But it would be nice to have a more powerful system to do Chemistry spectral simulations on. Was doing some smaller ones for my undergrad last year on my Alienware m11xR2. Had the processor (Intel Core i7 U640) overclocked to 2.5 GHz (orignally 1.2 GHz) and then it took 5 hours to do 2 nuclei spectra. Point blank refused to do 4 nuclei spectra (says not enough memory which I mean to take as the 4gb RAM).
The A$159 kit you have listed there runs at 1.65V; Intel strongly recommends using 1.5V RAM chips, and I think it voids the Intel proc warranty to run 1.65V RAM. The 16GB kit you have listed is fine, I'd go with that (you won't see a huge difference between 1600MHz and 1866MHz).
Since it takes that long on a first-gen i7 to do your chemistry work, I'd stick with the i7-2600k, just because it sounds like you can use the extra processing power.
If you're considering doing Crossfire down the line, you might want to look at an 850W PSU to give yourself some headroom; you could probably get away with Crossfiring 7970s with 750W, but you'd be riding your PSU hard. This PSU's A$20 more, but it's an 80+ Gold 850W unit that's sure to provide for overclocking and crossfire should you do either/both in the future: Antec 850W PSU