This will be my first build, after years of pining for the time when my income would allow me to buy a kickass PC. I originally wanted to spend less than this build will cost, but am extremely tempted by the Dell U2711, so would like to see what it would cost to make it happen.
Approximate Purchase Date: First - Second week in July. I will be moving, but once I know what my build is, I will keep an eye out for bargains.
Budget Range: Ideally, a total of about $2500, including the $900 for the monitor.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (I'm not a hardcore gamer, but I will be probably playing Mass Effect, ME 2 and ME 3 multiplayer, Dragon Age, and maybe Skyrim), statistical simulations and estimation on large datasets, netflix streaming.
Parts Not Required: Mouse, I guess.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I prefer Amazon for financial reasons, but I also like Newegg. I don't have much experience buying computer parts, so I would defer to any suggestion if it implies substantial savings. I will also have a Microcenter nearby starting in early July.
Parts Preferences: I don't know how to choose a case, but the cleaner looking the better.
Overclocking: Not right away.
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe, it seems like a way to upgrade going forward.
Monitor Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Additional Comments: Not much to say.
After reading around a little bit, I came up with this configuration. I'm partial to having lots of RAM, because it seems to really help with my simulations. My price limit is based mostly on a mental limit of what I "should" spend on a computer, but I am willing to change it if I am persuaded it will be necessary. I just want to know what I need to game on this monitor!
High-five for picking an awesome display. I will make one suggestion, if you can find the extra cash now you should get the u3011 rather than the u2711. It's on sale at Newegg for 1200 and Dell occasionally puts it on for 1100 (that's when I bought mine). It's an extra 3 inches of pure e-peen and will last you a goo 5-10 years. The full 3 year warranty is awesome too, Dell will have a new one at your doorstep within 48 hours if anything is wrong with it
Thanks! I'll keep an eye out for sales but the monitor is the one thing I figure I should buy after I move. Do you think the 670 will be enough for this resolution? I see you have 2 7970s. I don't know much about hardware - I've just been reading a lot in the past month to get an idea.
2560x1440 and 2560x1600 are two resolutions that definitely benefit from higher amounts of VRAM and memory bandwidth. There's a lot more pixels to drive than 1920x1080. However, 2GB is of VRAM generally enough. I used to drive this with an HD6970 and most games were quite playable on maximum settings so I don't think that a 670 will have any issues with any games that are on the market right now. With that said, the 7970s do tend to perform a little bit better than the 670/680 at 2560x1600 because of their extra memory bandwidth
The extra gig of GDDR5 on the 7970 helps it a lot in crossfire at high resolutions, but 3GB isn't really necessary for a 670.
Unlike standard system RAM, graphics RAM is only useful for so many technical applications. It's primarily used to store textures (often multiple filtered versions of the same base texture), buffers, overlays, shaders, models, geometry, etc...
Employing higher resolution textures, more detailed models, more complex shaders, more detailed geometry, more robust buffers, etc... all require more video memory. It's also obviously necessary to store a number of pre rendered frames so they can be displayed.
Just like how increasing the amount of system memory in a computer that is not constrained by a lack of memory will have only a marginal impact on that computer's performance, increasing the amount of video memory in an adapter that doesn't need it will have only a marginal impact on that adapter's performance. This is why the 7970 shines at high resolutions and when put in CrossfireX with another 7970, the added video memory actually becomes useful.
For all intents and purposes 2GB of video memory (VRAM actually refers a particular variant of video memory that has not been used since the 1990s) is more than enough to drive even the most demanding applications at 1920x1080 without limiting performance. 3GB becomes desirable at 2560x1600 or when multiple monitors are used such as in Eyefinity setups