Looking to get new gaming system, including OS, for roughly $1000

I am building a new system, but I haven't been paying attention to the hardware side of things for awhile, so I am hoping for some advice here. Like the title of the post says, I am looking to spend $1000 at the most (actually I am hoping to keep it around $800 but can spend more if its worth it), for gaming, but also for music production. The game I am really looking forward to playing is X3 Rebirth, and the X3 games are known to be more CPU intensive rather than video card intensive. This being the case, I feel some weight should be put on the CPU in my system. Since music making is involved, I need quiet parts, so no high-RPM fans please! I won't be doing any over-clocking, I need this rig to last, so long-term reliability is also a high priority.

I have a AMD Phenom II X4 945 with a AMD HD5770 video card with 4 gigs of decent RAM (I forgot which brand) running on Win7 in my HTPC. I need this new system to smoke that system in order to justify this purchase. Also, I already have the case, monitor, peripherals, etc, I just need the below listed components.

The things I need:

CPU: I like what I am reading about some of these Intel chips, particularly the i7 3770 and i5 3570. Are these the top bang-for-the-buck CPUs right now? Are there any others I should be considering? I have read that the 3770's advantages do not extend to gaming as much. Is there any reason why I should be considering the extra cost of a 3770? Do you consider this CPU to be more future proof? Also, when I was looking at neweggs CPU section, I didn;t see any OEM CPUs there? Are OEM processors carried anymore?

Motherboard: I don't need a lot of features. I would like a decent 5.1 sound chip with a digital audio out for those times when I want surround sound. I already have a good 2 channel pro-audio sound card which is what I will mostly be using. I am after performance more so than features here. I would prefer a passively cooled chipset rather than an onboard fan, but if there is one that is quiet I will consider it.

Memory: 8 or 16 gigs? Is there any advantage at all in getting 16 gig over 8? Any decent brands that aren't expensive? Remember that I am not overclocking here.

Video Card: From what I am reading, they all look good to me. Do they all support HDMI now? What's the best bang-for-the-buck out there right now? Remember I would prefer something on the quieter side of things here.

CPU heatsink and fan: Is the stock cooler on the Intel chips any good, or should I be getting a better one? Is the stock fan quiet? Are there any inexpensive alternatives that will keep my chip extra cool and quiet?

Windows 7: Which version should I get? I am leaning towards a OEM version of Pro. What bugs me is that, from what I have read, OEM copies of Win7 will lock itself on your MB! How worried should I be about this? Is there a way to beat this?

So how would you divide $800 to $1000 into those components using my criteria (a quiet gaming machine)? I'll be checking this post often, as I am sure there is a lot to learn here.
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More about looking gaming system including roughly 1000
  1. One more thing, how much does a SSD speed things up? Would it be stupid to buy some of the above mentioned higher quality components and not have a SSD? How much does it speed boot up time, program load times, etc?
  2. No one wants to help? I'm sooo lonely....
  3. Here what i suggest if you already have a PSU please tell me the make and model so we can see if you will be able to use it or not PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($127.55 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
    Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($259.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.64 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $924.14
    (Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-07-30 04:24 EDT-0400)
  4. Thanks for the suggestions!

    I do have a power supply, its a 750 watt PC Power & Cooling called the Silencer, here is the product page:


    The problem is that it's about four, maybe five years old now. Do you think its worth getting a new one for reliability reasons? I don't know how long PSU's last, but I don't need my PSU to somehow fry the computer internals due to some kind of age related failure. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

    I have a couple questions regarding your parts list. I do have some programs I like to use that are a little bit old (think win98 era). Does Win7 pro have better backward campatibility than Win 7 home? My sound card (E-MU 1820) does not have official Win7 drivers, just beta ones. Its Windows Vista drivers supposedly work well with windows 7, but because Win 7 has some kind of XP mode, do you think it would be better to get the Pro version?

    The Nvidia Video cards are supposed to be very good too, along with the AMD based ones, is there any particular reason why you recommend that card over equivalently priced Nvidia ones?
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