SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (FFXIV once released, LOTRO, various single players), photo editing (lightroom), recording audio
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Speakers, Mouse, audio interface for recording
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: www.novatech.co.uk (I am in Reading at the weekend and therefore would be able to collect parts from Novatech)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United Kingdom
PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU, ATI GPU, midsized case (if poss), 22-24" monitor
OVERCLOCKING: Low-Moderate – I’ve not overclocked before, but I would like to push the CPU within stable limits. I may experiment with the GPU at a later date if I start to experience lower framerates on games at medium settings.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Would like to keep option available – initial build will be single GPU, but will add a second GPU in future if the cost/benefit ratio is better than replacing with a newer single GPU.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: High
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: For the last two years I've been using a Dell XPS M1730 gaming laptop with a 256mb 8700m GPU. I'm not worried about max settings, so this can handle Crysis fine, but it seems that FFXIV will be a stretch too far and it's time to upgrade. I've learnt my lesson with gaming laptops and their lack of upgradability, so it's time for me to go desktop.
I posted just over a month ago and my build below is based on the feedback I received at that time. I am now at a position to buy and want to verify that a) the components below will work together effectively and b) I am not paying excessively for any component when a cheaper one offers similar performance for a lower cost. I do however wish to future-proof myself wherever possible, for instance by investing in a more powerful CPU now to support potential XFire and/or GPU overclocks in future.
Most Gigabyte P55 motherboards have a bad implementation of SATA6G/USB3; the ones that have two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots and don't have a PLX chip disable the second PCI-E slot when SATA6G/USB3 are enabled in the Bios. MSI and Asus don't have this problem. From novatech the one to get is the Asus P7P55D-E Pro - this is one of the most popular P55 boards because it is feature rich and doesn't have a problem with SATA6G/USB3 and CF/SLIing at the same time. And didn't use to have much competition, now it does from MSI. This is the only thing that really 'needs' changing, IMO, from the build in the OP.
If you don't mind heat or noise then the GTX 470 is a reasonable option considering it's cheaper price and competitive performance.
I'll change the mobo based on your advice, as the Asus one was also one I had considered.
The Nvidia cards I'd written off due to reports of excessive noise and/or heat, although I hadn't realised the price difference was so great! I think I'll stick to the more expensive ATI cards however, as the only audio recording I do is for personal uses, I'd still prefer to keep background levels down.
Thanks for the tips on better prices elsewhere. I will look into this and weigh up whether it's worthwhile for me to source from multiple locations.
Glad to hear that my proposed build is otherwise fine