I've been off-and-on researching components for a new gaming PC over the last month, and I think I'm about set to pull the trigger. I'd like to get some feedback from the more experienced building community...
I'm looking to put together something beefy enough to demolish the current crop of games and last for a good while. I'm not particularly looking to overclock, but I definitely am keeping an eye on upgrade-abilty. I'd also like not to kill my electric bill. Here's what I'm thinking:
Here are a couple specific questions for you all--
1. I am really, really strongly considering springing for a Radeon 7950 instead of the GTX 570. When I started researching, I was a bit annoyed at where the graphics market is right now, since we're on last year's models and waiting for the companies to roll out the new lines. I decided the new 7970 was out of my price range, but now that the 7950 is out, it looks like enough of a screamer for the money that I think it's worth it. I like the idea of being able to pick up another one for CrossFire in a couple years if I decide I need more oomph. I'm also really impressed with ZeroCore, which I think would play well with the integrated graphics of the i5-2500K. Any comments?
2. I've seen various comments all over the place about RAM. My general impression is that unless I care about overclocking, 95% of the performance of a system is determined by the CPU, GPU, and amount/speed of RAM, so I see little benefit in going for some super-pricey sticks with giant technicolor heat sinks. So I just picked a highly rated 8GB 1600 pack. One point that I have seen and am wondering about, though: I was thinking of filling 2/4 DIMMs with the maximum possible RAM, and leaving the others open for later expansion. But is it going to be much better if I spread the RAM out evenly among all the DIMMs, and upgrade them all at once if I decide to do that? Or is RAM sufficiently cheap that I might as well fill 'em all with the biggest stuff I can get?
i5 2400 is only 10% slower than the i5 2500k, if you are not OCing, that can also be a choice. A 7950 is definitely awesome. Definitely get a SSD though, as you will load into games faster and such. I recommend getting a SSD like the Intel 520, Samsung 830, or Crucial M4. It will be much faster than if you got 2 HDDs. Get a 1TB, then a 64GB or 128GB SSD.
Now, if you are thinking until April, then you could spend around $70 less on a 3.0 motherboard because motherboards from Asrock and Gigabyte support 3.0x16 slots when used with the Ivy Bridges. You can get a Asrock Pro3 Gen3, but it supports only one 3.0x16 slot. If your looking to CF in the future, then you would have to get the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 or wait until April and get the Ivy Bridge w/ Asrock Extreme3 Gen3 for $122.
My final recommendation is to wait for the Ivy Bridges and Kepler series as it seems the Kepler series will beast on the 7xxx.
Case is cheap, get a Cooler Master Haf 912 instead.
No need to spend that much on a PSU, although it is good, the Antec ECO 620w or the Corsair TX650 will perform just as well.
Or if you really want the 7950, but no CF in the future, here's an idea:
i5 2500k $230 or i5 2400 $190
MSI 7950 $470
ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 $105
Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB $160
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 $160
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB 1600 $47
COOLER MASTER HAF 912 $60
Antec ECO 620w $70
DVD drive same as above $20
Another question, related to your comment on the power supply--
I'd like a supply that's efficient. How much stock do all these 80+ ratings hold? Is it as worth it as the PSU manufacturers would have us believe to push for silver or gold ratings, or is any 80+ rating quite sufficient?
I just finished reading an article on Toms or Anandtech (can't remember which) that said as you go from Bronze to Silver...the efficiency improves some but that the variability (and thus dependability) is what improves more. But the cost goes up significantly so they couldn't make a strong case for moving up the metal rating system.
I don't think 128mb would do the job for any system build. That's why I chose 128gb. The reason being is I don't horde hundreds of gigs of worthless files on my computer. Some people like to be pack rats when it comes to their hard drives. Also, when the time comes you can always purchase another one.