New Build (Planetside 2 / BF3 / Productivity)

Approximate Purchase Date: Within next two weeks.

Budget Range: <$2500 (Flexible)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Productivity (Office), Gaming, Casual Photoshop, General Usage

Parts Not Required: Everything Required - including monitor x 2 (or 3)/mouse/keyboard/speakers/OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No Preference

Country: USA (New York City)

Parts Preferences: No clue

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: No Clue

Additional Comments: This will be a gaming machine that will double as a school/work computer. I will be purchasing a minimum of two monitors and am considering a third, as I do a fair bit of spreadsheet work and need this functionality. I'm not sure what games are out there that support the use of more than one monitor, but I would consider building to a multi-monitor gaming setup. I typically play first person shooters and the Total War series, so would love to be able to handle Planetside 2, BF3, Shogun:TW on max settings (or close enough as I couldn't tell the difference). This will be my first build - I have no experience with hardware beyond installing my own cards/ram in the past.
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  1. Best answer
    You don't need to spend $2500 on a system for your purposes. You can spend 1/2 of that and then have room to spare for a couple of nice monitors and whatever else you need. Here you go:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($34.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($127.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($37.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
    Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($124.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($285.98 @ Newegg)
    Case: NZXT Phantom 410 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.98 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 750W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1348.85
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-14 19:50 EST-0500)

    I don't suggest monitor or peripherals because those things are all personal preference. Before the regulars start tearing apart my build I included a PSU for dual GPUs, and the 3770K is for Excel and other programs where you'll be working with large files.
  2. Fair point - I suppose I should have mentioned that that flexible $2500 included everything, so it is actually ~$2500 less monitors and peripherals for the system itself.
  3. Following up on your proposed build, I've been doing a bit of research which has made me see things a bit differently. I hadn't thought about simply building a <$1500 machine every few years rather than trying to spend a lot more on one that I can potentially get another year out of. Interesting - so yeah, I now see that it is probably more cost effective in the long run to simply build to the current (and future near term) intended use of the system.

    I have a few follow up (noobish) questions:

    1) Can one graphics card simultaneously support two (or three) monitors, both in terms of performance and physical connectivity? I've looked into what it will cost to run a three monitor gaming setup, and it is a bit excessive for what I plan to do, so if it matters for your answer I only plan to use the second monitor for productivity purposes.

    2) How extreme is the difference between the performance of the i5 and the i7 when it comes to performing tasks in Excel? I don't typically work with enormous datasets, just financial models, some of which can get pretty large and complicated and do tend to bog down my 2011 Macbook Pro. I'm running a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 with 4GB Memory in this. I'm asking here because I see it is possible to save some money by going with an i5 without impacting my gaming - a slightly less robust Excel experience is acceptable to me.

    3) I hope to be able to play Rome:TW2 on high settings when it comes out, I know we don't have a great deal of information on what that will take but wanted to throw this in mainly to determine the degree of overkill I might need planned into the machine.

    4) I've realized now it is pretty important for you to know what kind of resolution I will be gaming at. Well, I don't know... But I've got the budget in this build to tolerate something at 1920x1200(or 1080). It looks like quality monitors larger than this scale pretty poorly in price.

    I'm going to try to take advantage of any black friday/cyber monday deals that meet or exceed the standards of my build, then fill in the remainder of the slots the following Tuesday. I'm not sure I have the expertise to know what a deal looks like, so will probably end up just building to whatever list we come up with by then unless something clearly stands out to me as a major deal.

  4. Best answer selected by Mark11B2P.
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