Budget Range: $500 - 800 (too many factors for this)
System Usage: High-end Gaming, Possibly 3D Movies too
Parts Required: New MOBO, CPU, GPU, and RAM
Preferred Website: newegg.com
Parts Preferences: Intel CPU / AMD Graphics
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1680 x 1050 computer monitor, which seems to work well on my 50" plasma
Additional Comments: If I need to upgrade my PSU I will do that before buying all these parts so don't worry about that for now. I'm currently running an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 with a GeForce 8800 GT and 3GB of RAM.
That is a link to a sample wishlist I created on what I am thinking of getting.
CPU: I was considering the I7 over the I5 but that doesn't seem like an important upgrade, but the other question is should I save $30 by downgrading from the 3570k to the 3570? If I get into overclocking I will not be trying to get the best overclock that I can (even though I have an amazing aftermarket cpu fan right now).
MOBO: I just mainly looked for a low cost Z77 MOBO with a decent number of USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0. I only really need the 1 slot (for the GPU), unless I add Bluetooth as a card? I only need the MOBO itself for setting up a RAID right? I never used RAID before and I'm planning on using it in the future after this upgrade. Also, I might try to get this as a gift from my parents so near or under $100 would be preferred.
RAM: This I also planned on getting as a gift but from my sister, so it definitely needs to be under $100 (less is better). 2 x 4GB seemed to be a good price point and I could upgrade to 16GB later if I found the need. I went with the Ripjaw X since its Intel XMP ready (if that is even useful). One question though, is 8 Cas 1.5V at $60 better than 9 Cas 1.35V at $49?
GPU: Without going into the deep end for resolutions, the 7850 seemed to be able to handle Metro 2033 with ideal frame rates (>60 fps?). I will likely get a better card in the future when I upgrade more of my computer but this card should suffice for at least a few years. The question then is which company has a better card for OC (since this might be the more likely hardware for me to OC first), and who has a better warranty (unless the warranty becomes null and void with OC).
CPU: If you want to overclock, you need the 3570K. I'm sure you know this, but basically you OC by multiplying your BLCK frequency by your CPU multiplier. S1155 has very little play in the BLCK, so you need an unlocked multiplier to OC...only 'K' CPUs have this. OCing is up to you, but don't buy the 3570 and think you'll get 4.5GHz later on, 'cos you won't.
Motherboard: It pays to get a decent motherboard, especially for OCing...the more expensive boards have better features. As a rule of thumb, personally, I tend to look for the motherboard variant that supports SLI. As only reasonably high-end motherboard support that, they tend to have decent OCing features too.
RAM: 2x4GB, cheap as chips. Make sure you get 1600MHz RAM, although it's not essential. The Corsair Vengeance line is good.
GPU: A 7850 will do you fine...can't comment on how it handles Metro 2033, but when PC Perspective reviewed it, they rated it a decent improvement over the 560Ti which I have. The 560Ti lets me run BF3 on max settings at 1080p, so I think you're fine there. MSI tend to do good overclocks, but to be sure just Google a comparison between several manufacturers of the card you're thinking of. If it's pre-overclocked you have cover, but if you increase it your warranty may be affected.
PSU: If you upgrade this, don't cheap out on it...
Looks pretty decent to me. Even my 550 TI handles Metro 2033 okay btw, I have a copy downloaded from Steam. I don't know if they cleaned up the code or what for the release, but I've had much better results than all the benchmark websites have claimed.
CPU- Honestly, for gaming theres no improvement at all offered from the Sandy Bridge 2500k compared to the Ivy Bridge i5s. The Ivy Bridge chips run hotter when you overclock them compared to SB's. If you want to overclock at all, and theres no reason you shouldn't these days with a homebuilt, you're going to need a CPU with the "k" on the end.
Mobo- Featurewise its okay. I've never messed with a RAID myself, so I cant offer you too much advice on that front as far as setting it up. I do know you need a motherboard that supports it (that one does), and I believe 2 or more hard drives of identical capacity. If you were to add a bluetooth card to the board, it would probably use an x1 slot, something a modern video card would never use. That motherboard has 3 of them. Personally, I'd just get a USB bluetooth transmitter, and save the hassle. Yes, a single video card would go into the big slot closest to the CPU. It will take up the physical space of 2 slots however.
RAM- That is a decent brand of RAM, and 8GB is plenty. As far as CAS latency in RAM, lower is better. Although, you will never notice a performance difference, get the cheaper one.
Video Card- Overclocking voids your warranty. My advice to you is to by a factory overclocked video card, the warranty is honored on these as it was sold to you as such. If you want to look at a factory overclocked 7850, this would be a nice choice:
CPU: With my current fan, my core temps are usually around 30 and OC never got above 36 (been awhile since I OC so I will have to relearn a few things). The downside to this wonderful fan is how much of a hassle it is to get in and out (this thing is huge...). I'm not worried about getting 4.5 GHz, maybe just 4 and that is still just a maybe. So I will go with the 3570K.
MOBO: As long as the MOBO has RAID and supports the latest speeds (PCI 3, USB 3, and SATA 6) I'm not concerned with the rest. When I last tried to OC, I did it through the BIOS so as long as that is an option, I don't need any extra OC bells and whistles if it will cost me a premium. I will probably end up using a USB Bluetooth since that seems to be just about the only easy solution to find. So the main point I was getting at is that I only seem to need the PCI slot for the GPU only. So for now I guess I will go with the one I have listed.
RAM: I guess I will go with the cheaper one. I was looking at the low voltage as giving me wiggle room to reach a higher speed without going over the usual 1.5v. So at the very least I figured I could get it running a bit better than the stock 8 Cas RAM and save money in the process. Like I said, my OC goals aren't to see how high I can go, but rather to get slight/decent improvements.
GPU: I didn't actually notice that any of the 7850 were OC, thanks for the catch. I guess I will switch to the Gigabyte you recommended. I might not actually play Metro 2033 but since that seems to be the highest demanding game right now, I used that for a benchmark in case I want to play an equally or more demanding game in the future.
On a side note, in the past I had 2 monitors side by side and when I played a game (Pangya) it would black out the other screen so I couldn't use it. Was that just an issue with how that specific game was programmed? Will I be able to use a second screen for internet/monitoring with the setup I have selected?