I'm trying to select components for a gaming rig which will be built for me according to my specs then delivered ready to use. The most demanding game I will be playing is Skyrim (I'm sick of playing the un-detailed, glitchy console version whilst drooling over footage of the beautiful PC version and its mods) and I want to be able to do so with maxed out graphics (all the frills: AA AF etc etc and mods) as well as be at least semi future-proof. This is as far as I've got:
RAM: Corsair Vengeance PC3-12800 1600MHz, either 8GB or 16GB (will explain)
Storage: Either of 1.00TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 OR this AND 120GB - OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD (will explain)
Drive: LG CH10LS28 Blu-Ray Reader
Graphics: AMD HD7950 3GB OR AMD HD7970 3GB OR nVidia Point of View GTX 570 Graphics, 1.3GB
PSU: Corsair 650W, 750W or 850W PSU
Case: Antec Nine Hundred midi tower
CPU Cooling: ThermalTake Frio CL-P0564
OS: Windows & Ultimate x64
These specs will cost somewhere in the region of £1500/$2300 which is about what I wanted to spend. Basically: is this rig complete overkill, absolute trash, or just about right? Now I will explain my choices...
I had a choice between the i5 3.3GHz or the i7 3.5GHz and opted for the latter since I have read over and over that vanilla Skyrim is already very CPU heavy and I'm going to be doing my fair share of modding. I cannot decide between 16GB or 8GB RAM. I know Skyrim can only utilize 4GB but when researching (I'm sure by now you've realized that I am completely new to this) I read that with sufficient space the entire Skyrim (or whatever) directory can can be loaded into RAM (see http://www.wincom7.com/blog/how-i-put-skyrim-ram-drive/). Since the 16GB is only another £23 this would remove the need to get the expensive SSD (since I've also read that these allow for faster loading times if I install the OS and games on it and stick other stuff on the HDD, otherwise I would only be getting the 1TB HDD). So: 8GB RAM with SSD for OS and Games with HDD for misc stuff OR 16GB RAM with current game directory loaded and only HDD for everything else? NB: I won't be making HD 3D movies, calculating Pi or simulating galactic collisions in the background whilst playing Skyrim (maybe the odd movie download and some 3D modeling) so if I'm still well in excess of RAM with 8GB let me know.
I'm completely lost when it comes to the graphics card. I will NOT be overclocking so the 7970 seems like the best choice since it performs best but its £120 more to go from 85 to 107 FPS at 1080p (am I right in saying I wont notice this and would be better getting the cheaper 7950 model?). Then again, there's also the nVidia Point of View GTX 570 Graphics 1.3 GB but I keep hearing that to do Skyrim justice with settings maxed you really need to hit 2GB VRAM so leaning towards one of the 3GB AMD cards... but which?
Am I better just getting the most powerful PSU (not a huge price difference for extra 200W) so that my PC can just suck as much juice as it pleases? Any thoughts on my choice of CPU cooler, given there will be no overclocking and I'm not keen on water cooling? Lastly, I chose my case for mainly aesthetic reasons and because it comes with an array of built in fans & is fairly spacious, but are there any other considerations?
wr6133 is right on. i5 2500k is the best gaming cpu for 2 reasons first its priced alot better then the i7 and it performs better then the i7. Games don't make use of the hyperthreading of the i7 so it will not benefit at all. If you do plan on video editing then keep the i7 but if not save the money and get the i5 and upgrade your gpu. Also like the poster before me said there really no benefits with ultimate either.
You haven't specified a motherboard, and they are pretty essential to a working PC. The go-to board for good quality, features and price is the AsRock Z77 Extreme4. It supports dual SLI/Crossfire properly, 8 SATA ports (4 of them SATA3), BIOS is easy to use, along with the usual benefits of the Z77 platform. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You will be better off with both a HDD and SSD. The SSD to hold your games, OS and programs, with the HDD as mass storage, for your documents, music and such. The OCZ Vertex 4 is a much faster SSD with better reliability, I would get that over a Vertex 3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The BLU-Ray drive is pointless unless you actually read/burn BLU-Ray discs. Any $20 SATA DVD-RW optical drive will be sufficient for the average user.
For a single GPU system, 650W is sufficient. Get 750W if you want the option of dual SLI/Crossfire later.
For a gaming rig, 8GB is the most RAM you will need. Setting up a RAMdisk is largely pointless as an SSD is already sufficiently quick. And plus, data stored on the RAM is lost in the event of a power outage, so you would have to re-install it every-time a fuse blows. Make sure its Low Profile so it will fit under the CPU heatsink. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU cooling is mostly pointless if you wont overclock (which you should, youv picked an overclockers chip and iv suggested a good overclocking board), but the budget cooler to get is the Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO. It keeps my 3570k (overclocked) under 55C at full load. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Finally the GPU. To play Skyrim on a single monitor isn't all that intensive a task, you don't need the best graphics card by any stretch. My overclocked HD7870 easily hits the 60FPS cap with the high resolution texture pack, everything turned to high and multiple mods running, many of them visual. Also the 60FPS cap is Vsync kicking in, most monitors cant display above 60FPS, and to try too can lead to screen tearing.
The VRAM on a card doesn't really matter as its only a consideration when its possible to run out of it, which you wont on a single monitor.