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Need advice: Budget gaming PC $800-1200 range

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May 2, 2012 10:11:52 PM

I am getting ready to replace my current computer running an Athlon 6400+ w/ HD 5770 with something less outdated, and I am a little bewildered by all the options, so I would really appreciate any advice. I am planning on buying a system within the next 2 weeks and my budget range is around $800-1200. I play strategy games a lot and I noticed that my CPU is bottlenecking a lot of my favorites (TW Shogun, Civ 5).
I am planning to sell my current system but I will keep the monitor, keyboard mouse and everything, just looking to replace the tower.
I run my monitor at 1600x900 and I don't need super high res, and I usually play with AA off because I am not really bothered by "jaggies" at this resolution.
I haven't built computer before but I've installed GPUs, CPUs, CPU cooling systems and RAM. I was thinking about getting a computer through cyberpowerpc because I don't have a ton of free time and I don't want to have to troubleshoot if I botch the setup, but I am comfortable installing individual parts. I figured that the extra cost for a prebuilt from this site is not a huge deal, but maybe you will disagree.
So here is what I am thinking and I would like to know if I should do differently:

1. I would like a computer that is fairly quiet, not silent but hopefully less noisy than my current set up. I configured a comp with an NZXT H2 Classic Silent Case (I dont know if there are other better quiet cases) and also added sound absorbing foam($29), power supply gasket ($5), and anti-vib fan mounts($9), I am not sure what the relative cost:benefit of these components would be.
Also, running cooler and using less power is a plus for any parts.
2. I added Thermaltake TR2 RX (650W), I know little about PSU's but I wanted one that is quiet and sufficient for my build
3. i5-3570k, I don't plan to OC but it looked to be a good value, I don't think its worth an extra 100 to upgrade to i7 3770
4. Radeon HD 6950 (on sale). For $100 more I could get HD 7850 which is more power efficient and somewhat faster, but I am not sure that would be worth it. I looked at GTX 560 Ti and it seems to be pretty comparable to 6950 but costlier.
5. I don't know anything about MOBOs, so I am just assuming the one I choose will be fine
6. An SSD would probably put the system out of my price range, but would that be worth it in your opinion? (I don't think it does much for gaming but would it improve boot times, OS speed etc). I currently have only 170 gb used on my HDD and I regularly delete anything I dont need, I have an 300 gb external HDD I could use for storage
7. Any other advice would be very much appreciated, and thanks in advance!

Here are details on the current set up I am considering from Cyberpowerpc:
Total cost: $1191 (incl shipping)

Case: NZXT H2 Classic Silent Mid-Tower Gaming Case [+4] (White Color)
Extra Case Fan Upgrade: Maximum 120MM Case Cooling Fans for your selected case [+9]
Noise Reduction Technology: Sound Absorbing Foam on Side, Top And Bottom panels [+29]
Power Supply Gasket [+5]
Anti-Vibration Fan Mounts [+9]
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-3570K 3.40 GHz 6MB Intel Smart Cache LGA1155 (All Venom OC Certified) - While Supply Last
Cooling Fan: CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo Gaming Cooling Fan [+4]
Motherboard: [CrossFireX] Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H Intel Z77 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard w/ IRST, Lucid Virtu MVP, Ultra Durable4 Classic, 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, 2x Gen3 PCIe x16, 3x PCIe x1 & 2 PCI (Extreme OC Certified)
Memory: 8GB (2GBx4) DDR3/1600MHz Dual Channel Memory (Corsair or Major Brand)
Video Card: AMD Radeon HD 6950 2GB 16X PCIe Video Card [+123] (Major Brand Powered by AMD)
Power Supply Upgrade: * 650 Watts - Thermaltake TR2 RX Modular 80 Plus PSU - PN: TRX-650M [+61]
Hard Drive: 1TB SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 32MB Cache 7200RPM HDD (Single Drive)
Data Hard Drive: None
Hard Drive Cooling Fan: None
Optical Drive: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive (BLACK COLOR)
Sound: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows 7 Home Premium [+104] (64-bit Edition)
May 3, 2012 12:27:59 AM

1. For good info on quiet computing research on www.silentpcreview.com.
Here is a review of the H2; Apparently it has some airflow restristions:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1188-page1.html
You might look at the r2 also, or the Antec solo II.

Noise comes from high rpm fans. You probably do not need extra. They can be added later if needed.

2. 650w psu will run any single graphics card.
My preference for a quality psu would be Seasonic, Antec, PC P&C, XFX, or Corsair.

3. 3570K is probably best for gaming. The "K" will give you the option to OC and exceed the performance of a 3770 at less cost.

4. Fast action games depend most on great graphics cards. Civ and similar turn based games less so. I think I would look for one of the new 28nm based cards; they will run cooler and quieter. the 7850 would be appropriate.

5. Motherboard is ok, but may be larger or more expensive than you need.

6. To my mind, a SSD is a must have option in your budget range. It will make everything feel much more snappy.
A 250gb ssd will be about $300.

7. Add up the cost of your specified parts, and see how much cyberpower is charging you to assemble it. If you can save enough, do it yourself.
It will take you about two hours to assemble the parts. Most of the time is spent on installing the os and doing updates. That happens very quickly with a ssd.
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May 3, 2012 12:45:30 AM

Thanks geofelt, that is very helpful
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!