My current build is about 2 1/2 years old now. I mainly use it for gaming and like to do so at a 1920x1080 resolution. I've finally started having trouble running some games (Max Payne 3 comes to mind) and max resolution, and other less well-optimized games require turning down some settings as well (Saints Row 3).
I'm also at a point where I have money now, and I'd rather spend it on something worthwhile than frittering it away on random nick-nacks. I realize I could probably run games fine on medium-high settings for the next year or two, but I'm looking toward the future. Basically, since I have the money now, I'm thinking about doing a major upgrade to keep me running games at high settings for the next 2-3 years, but only if it would be worth it to do so.
So without further ado...
My current rig:
-Cooler Master HAF 922 Case
-Corsair TX Series CMPSU-650TX 650W PSU
-Intel Core i5-750
-Radeon HD 5850 1 GB
-Corsair XMS3 4GB DDR3 1600 (not sure if I'm even getting 1600, but I got this RAM really cheap at the time so I didn't mind if I was stuck at 1333)
Here's what I would be keeping:
-Cooler master HAF 922 Case
-Corsair TX Series CMPSU-650TX 650W PSU (assuming it would work decently with the upgrades)
-My SATA HDDs and DVD Drive
Here's what I am thinking about getting:
-ASUS P8Z77-V LK LGA 1155
-Intel Core i5-2500k or i5-3570k (note again I probably wouldn't be OC'ing).
-Radeon HD 7870 2 GBb (thinking XFX)
-G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB DDR3 1600 (if there's better RAM available, I'm open to suggestions. I'm also thinking about picking up another 8 GB for 16 GB total, assuming they'd fit next to the CM Hyper 212 Plus)
-Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus (no need for the Noctua NH-D14 at stocks speeds, right?)
-Arctic Cooling MX-4 (currently using MX-2 and it's been fine. No curing is biggest plus for me)
I also realize I'll probably have a to buy a new license for Windows 7, since mine is OEM.
Approx. purchase data: Sometime before the end of the year.
Budget: Currently at around $850. Can do $1000 if really needed. Before shipping and rebates.
Parts preference: Intel for CPUs, AMD for GPU (unless I'm missed a really amazing NVIDIA card)
Brand: Whatever's reliable and/or has a good warranty.
Website(s): Got my current build from Newegg, so I'd prefer to stop there again.
Location: St. Paul, MN. Don't think there are any decent deals around here.
Monitor resolution: 1920x1080 and keeping it.
Overclocking: No (room temp generally too high for me to feel safe doing so)
Do you think the gaming performance increase would be significant enough to warrant an upgrade at this time? As I mentioned previously, I'm interested in something that will let me play future games at high settings for the next 2-3 years. This is probably the last time I'll be able to afford upgrades for the next 2-5 years.
If you can fit the 16gb, it doesn't hurt.
A lot of people say there's no real need for 16gb (which is more or less true for now except for video/rendering work), but you can always use the extra ram to create a ramdisk or temp files or whatever you like. And you're covered for when ram usage does start to go up.
I have the Gigabyte 7870 GHZ Edition, and it is really, really solid. But from what I hear, XFX is awesome, so I think that either way you should be fine. Also, I have the OEM Windows 7 and have swapped out motherboards and cpus and graphics cards with no problems, so you may be fine on that point.
I recommended the Gigabyte because of the reviews I've read it tends to perform a little cooler/quieter than most cards (except maybe a bit louder under max load).
Like Lokii, I also have a Gigabyte card (although it's a 7970) and it really is a great card.
XFX are usually pretty solid, but I've heard some issues with them producing bad cards, and I'm not clear on how well their cooler performs.
They also have fewer reviews, so I've found it better practice to stick with the card that has a solid reputation.
In the end, they're both great cards so either one is a strong choice.