I should first mention I'm in Canada where components are much more expensive so $1000 here probably gets me about as much as $800-$850 would down there.
So, I was going to build one last year but ended up putting it off. My current rig is now 4 years old and is having a very hard time with some of the newer games even on the lowest settings so I think it's about time to retire her.
I was hoping to be able to build a new machine for around $800 CAD. When I was looking at prices last year, that seemed very reasonable. But now, it looks like I can't really get away with any less than $1000 for a decent quality build that will last me a while. I'd like to shave off a few dollars if I could but it isn't a huge priority.
So here's what I've come up with so far:
Case - Antec Three Hundred
PS - ModXStream Pro 600W
CPU Heatsink - Zalman CNPS9500
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-X48-D6Q
CPU - Q9550
Mobo & CPU combo
Video - Powercolor Radeon HD4870 1GB
RAM - OCZ Reaper DDR2 1066
Video & RAM combo
Shipping - $15.23
HST - $118.78
Total - $1032.44
MIR - $35.00
Total after MIR: $997.44 (plus cost of fans)
I'm still trying to figure out which fans to get for the front of the case. Preferably something that isn't too noisy or expensive. Suggestions would be nice
For the case, the Antec 300 seemed perfect since I was hoping to do a little bit of overclocking and it's got tons of airflow.
I ended up deciding to go with the OCZ power supply as a bit of a compromise between quality and price. I kind of wanted the Corsair 550W PS but it seemed a bit too expensive. I figured 550W should be more than enough for me to do a bit of overclocking and eventually add in a second video card.
The processor choice was a bit of a dillemma. I was originally going to go with a Q6600, but they apparently aren't sold anymore. The Q9550 has a higher clock speed, more L2 cache, and runs cooler when OCed because of the smaller architecture so I guess it's worth the extra money. The 9400 is an option too, but I'm not sure how much of a performance hit it would be to have half the L2 cache (and a slightly lower clock speed). It is $40 less but I'm unsure of whether or not the performance hit would be worth that $40. (The same combo with the GA-X48 is available with both processors). The core i7s are still far too expensive for me and I honestly don't really think it's worth that much extra (especially when you factor in how much more you have to spend on the mobo and ddr3 ram, and none of the mobos look particularly good)
I've decided to go with an X48 mobo since I would like to add in a second 4870 at some point down the road. The PCIe slots on the P45 motherboards are reduced to x8 when run in crossfire, while the X48 remains at x16, meaning that adding a second video card onto a x48 mobo will have a much more dramatic effect. It also seemed like a good idea since with the combo deal it ended up being not all that much more expensive than a mobo with a P45 northbridge, and the Gigabyte x48 motherboard seems to have some fairly good reviews.
As for the video card, I've been pretty much set on a 4870. I had thought about getting a GTX 260 instead, but the selection of mobos with an nForce northbridge (for SLI down the road) is horrendous and they are all seem to have bad reviews. I could drop to a 4850 and save $30-40 but I'm afraid the performance hit might be too big. The 4890 is a bit too pricey. I'm currently playing 2 games which both use the Cry engine, so I'd like for the card to at least be able to handle that.
RAM was pretty much a tossup between the OCZ Reaper and Mushkin's DDR2 1066 CL5 RAM. The Mushkin RAM would have been about $5 more expensive, but more importantly, it seemed to only be overclocked DDR2 800 RAM, while the OCZ Reaper wasn't (meaning I could overclock it more if I wanted to).