I'm considering building a new system over the holidays and would like everyone's input. My budget is around US$1,000-1,100, including a monitor.
Current build: Core2Duo E8400 on an eVGA nForce 680i LT mobo; 6 GB of mis-matched RAM; ATI Radeon 3870; 500 GB hard drive (5 yrs old) in a Lian-Li case (which I intend to keep and re-use). Yeah, it's outdated. My only constraints are that I only need to power the type of monitor selected below: 1080p resolutions, max. Also, I'm not interested in an SSD. Loading and boot times don't bother me; the best frames per second bang for the buck is my target. To that end, I'm planning to do some mild overclocking.
MSI Z77A-G45 mobo
8 GB RAM, DDR3-1600
ATI 7870 GHz Edition (no regular 7870s available on Newegg)
WD 1TB hard drive
Antec 650w PSU
DVD-RW drives x2 (Current ones still use the old IDE ribbons)
ASUS 23" monitor - 1080p resolution
Cooler Master Hyper 212 heatsink
That build has 750w PSU, to allow for future addition, of 2nd GPU. If you don't want that, the 550w version would be more than enough. That may even give scope, within $1100 budget, to use GTX670, or HD7950 for GPU.
Thank you for the feedback. My jaw dropped a little at the Microcenter price for the CPU. Provided I can get to a store to pick it up, that plus keeping my current case would save more than enough money to get a better graphics card.
Shepherd, what are the issues with the MSI board? I've seen that Gigabyte and ASUS tend to do better with overclocking (and my experience with ASUS other than their crappy website is excellent), but is there a particular problem with MSI?
It's been a year or so since last I needed to use it, but I remember it being very rudimentary once you get into the section that holds drivers; it's better than others, in the sense that they don't require registering your product just to get drivers and documentation, but I had very slow downloads. Using eVGA's site, for example, for the same drivers would usually take half as long. I've tried to get ASUS more for their reliability than the sophistication of the website. I used to build servers and workstations, and our motherboard selections for non-server systems were almost universally ASUS. We had one system come in for a repair that was 7 years old, and the motherboard was still rock-solid. It turned out to be a failed memory stick. But I digress...