After several long and hard researches, I have come down to 2 options for my build. You may have already read, but here's a short recap of my story:
Basically I've got someone who's looking to build a gaming PC. Unfortunately for him, prices here in Jordan are astronomical. I offered to sell him my current mATX B75 motherboard and single 4GB 1333Mhz RAM, for the same price I purchased them (from Saudi Arabia next door, much cheaper). I'm going back to Saudi in January for holidays, will take the opportunity to get the parts I want for my build. Now that I have the opportunity to upgrade, I've narrowed it down to 2 choices.
Note: My CPU, GPU and PSU: i3-2100, Sapphire 6850, Corsair CX500
Build #1: Full ATX B75 motherboard + 2x4GB G-Skill 1333Mhz
Pros: Pop in that i3-2100 and Corsair Vengeance. Ability to upgrade down the road sometime to an i5-3570K and OC on a solid Z77 motherboard. SSD caching, should I wish to get an SSD later on. RAID, should I wish to get another HDD. Native memory support for 1600Mhz for the Corsair Vengeance, ability to OC higher (B75 restricts to 1333Mhz with a SB CPU).
Cons: Bit more expensive, about $70 more in total... upgrade-ability not the smartest route?
I know there's not much left till Haswell, but with my i3-2100, I shouldn't even be looking at LGA 1150. Should I sell my i3-2100, I will see a large depreciation value in the total bundle I'm selling, down to 50% of my original purchase price, not something I'd be pleased with.
Now I've looked back and forth at both builds. Both seem good... one moment I'm with Build #1, the next moment I'm all over Build #2. I don't know which one to choose. Will you please help me make up my mind?
EDIT: Alternatively, I could get the ASRock Z77 Pro3 for $30 cheaper... however, should I be concerned about its 4+1 power phase design? Remember, if I get an i5 3570K, I'll be OC'ing, and the same goes to my 6850.
This is my usual standard in upgrading hardware. While it doesn't fit some people standards, it has worked for me on every build I've ever made.
Personally I usually run a system (CPU/MOBO/RAM) for at least three years. GPU, HDD, and other non essentials don't always follow the pattern but the biggest buys of my system usually stick for a while.
Early 2011, I bought a Sandy Bridge system consisting of the ASRock P67 Extreme 6 and the i7-2600k processor along with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance ram. While that whole setup cost me over $450 at the time it has be a very valid investment. Nearly two years down the road it still has plenty of performance to keep me going another few years. No need for top of the line if the top of the line is only 5-10% faster you know?
Your seat is a little different though Ford. I'd look into it this way.
Are you planning a massive upgrade of over $700-$1000 when Haswell does come around? Are you planning to run this system for more than a year or two?
Factor in what all you have and where you're going with it. An i3-2100 is a decent budget processor that will game quite well and paired with a decent GPU will definitely last a couple years. While it won't be the most stout system out there; it will have the performance to keep it above those minimum requirements that are totally bogus these days anyways.
So I say take the upgrade path that suits you best. If you're wanting to transition to the next big switch, like Haswell, save as much money on this build to put forth to the Haswell build. If you're looking to stay in the SB/IB area, then I say grab the Z77 board, get a K-Series processor later on, and you'll be happy with it.
Remember, the changeover from Sandy to Ivy bridge wasn't a huge gap. Just as the changeover from the previous i-7 to the Sandy Bridge i-7 wasn't a giant leap. Was the performance better, yes. Was the performance a giant leap? Absolutely not. I doubt that Haswell will give a giant leap over Ivy Bridge performance. From what I've read it looks to be around 10% which isn't a huge gain. So a 3570k should be more than potent enough for some time.
So do what you think will suit you right. If you want to save up for Haswell, then go as cheap as you can while still having some performance now (B75) and save for the Haswell. If you want the best you can get now, then get the Z77 board and buy a 3570k and be stomping the yard at 4Ghz+ in no time.
Wow thanks for the really thorough and informative reply Steddora!
Alright to answer a few questions:
1) I am hoping to keep this build for the rest of my college years: 6 years.
2) I do not plan to transition to Haswell.
The i3-2100 holds up well as a current budget gaming processor, however I doubt it will have the guts to handle games over the next 6 years. This is why I'm thinking of getting a good Z77 and later on an i5-3570K when I start needing more performance.
As you said, the transition to Haswell will only see small performance increases. I don't know when the processors will be released, but for IvyBridge, it wasn't until August 2012 that they were released here, and Z77 prices were astronomical at the time, the cheapest being $180. I can only see the same process repeating itself with Haswell: late release + overpriced and very limited selection of motherboards for months on end. Why go through this headache for a 10% performance increase?
And I heard Skylake will be on another socket (if not BGA) about a year after Haswell's release. The point being there is no sense in trying to get the latest or waiting for something newer, as it will always quickly be replaced by another newer product. Get what's good now at a good price and enjoy it.
So having said all that I really am in favour of getting the ASRock Z77 Extreme4. Not too much more expensive than the B75, ability to get a i5-3570K later on, lots of neat features that I may take advantage of as time moves on.
EDIT: If I was to be really really picky, the only thing I'd have against the ASRock Extreme4, is the mis-matching colour scheme for my desktop and not being full-sized ATX. I can get black Corsair Vengeance to suit the build.
Unfortunately, the PCB of my Sapphire 6850 is blue. That, along with an open-style case (side-window and fan vents), it might not be the prettiest sight. Maybe once I have my blue LED fans lit up, it would mask the mis-matching colours and then that would be alright.
However, it seems they have some issues. From what I'm hearing, OC'ing problems, limits on the voltage, and the voltage automatically increasing itself with an increase in multiplier. When talking in this context, it would almost seem damn stupid to go with one of those when you have a perfectly proven solid ASRock Z77 Extreme4 staring at you for the same price.
EDIT: is there any other solid choice of motherboard in this Z77 list here asides from the Extreme4? The mis-matching colour scheme is cheesing me off a bit. Its size is alright with me, borderline alright, almost the same as the length of my 6850.
Haha sometimes you feel they're right when they say,"Ignorance is a bliss"... knowing too much is having me pulling my hair out over these 2 motherboards haha... I might go with something higher up the tier to satisfy my needs, or wait for something new to pop up...