Here are my current plans for a Windows gaming PC:
(1) Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower Case (already purchased)
(2) Seasonic SS-750KM X-series 750W power supply (already purchased)
(3) ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z/GEN3 motherboard
(4) Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III 64 GB SSD (boot drive)
(5) Saphire Radeon HD 7950 video card
(6) Intel i5 2500K CPU (only a $10 difference between 2500 and 2500K)
(7) CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
(8) Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1.5 TB 7200 RPM 64MB (storage, apps, only reason for 1.5 is it is cheaper than 1 TB)
(9) ASUS Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM (about $60. Will never use BW writer, but might want to watch a BW movie)
This will be used only for games (WoW and SWTOR and maybe a little Call of Duty at the moment). I do not plan on overclocking or SLI, but would like to play around with it if the desire hits me at some point.
Edited - updated some components. Will start purchasing on Friday.
Keep in mind there are only 3 PCI slots. If you have any thought of SLI with a 2 slot card like that, the second card would cover your only other slot, so that could be an issue if you ever want to use any other PCI cards.
I use a single SSD about that size. It’s fine. You can’t install your whole library, but you know that. As said, that’s a heck of a video card, but… why not :) Well, I suppose just running stuff like COD might be why not, but I suspect you’ve thought of that. Are WoW/SWTOR demanding?
I don’t find Asus boards competitively priced. You can get an ASRock Extreme4 Gen3 that does pretty much everything that board does, for less, in a full ATX form factor. Gigabyte also has a few in that ballpark.
Gold-rated power supplies are also overkill; they’re priced so much higher that the money saved on your electrical bill will never make up the difference (for a desktop computer, at least). For modularity, you’d be fine with a Corsair HX650 or even a Hive-650, which is a re-badged OCZ ZS.
You could also drop the SSD for a mechanical drive and use the savings to bump the card up to a 7970. SSDs just make Windows and apps load faster anyway. They have no impact on game performance. There’s a lot of things you could do with that ~$275, like a couple new monitors; or a new monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a case upgrade (CM690 II Advanced, Fractal Design Core 3000 or Define R3, Corsair 400R or 500R, Phantom 410, etc).
I’d also recommend an aftermarket cooler. Seems a shame to not put one on a 2500K. The Hyper 212 Plus is a popular choice, but it can get noisy under load. Cooler Master’s EVO doesn’t perform ~$12 better than the Plus. The Corsair A70 has a rebate on Newegg that brings it down to a nice price. But its dual fans may be obstructed by the bling on those Vengeance sticks. There’s some low-profile Vengeance floating around, or you could get some G.Skill Snipers or Corsair XMS.
I’ve used other boards before and I just find ASUS worth the extra dollars. I’m sure the ASRock board is just fine, but I’ve never had a problem with an ASUS board (knock on wood). My power supply cost around $110 with rebates and promo codes, so I can’t really complain (nor change that since I own it). My case cost $59 and is a steal at that price. I’ve spent a lot more for cases that were less put together than the 912. I’m too old to be impressed by pretty fan lights, so I don’t need all of that.
You make a good point about the SSD and I’ve debated that myself. I currently keep my games on about 120 GB of a 220 GB Bootcamp partition on my MacBook Pro. Having Windows open quickly would be nice, but you make a good point about using the extra from a regular HDD and purchasing a 7970.
Monitor, keyboard, and mouse are already set, although my ASUS 24 inch LED does not look as good as my Apple 27 inch Thunderbolt. I may eventually get a Samsung 27 inch TFT, but that wouldn’t be because of gaming.
I agree the premium ASUS boards are often not worth it in terms of what they offer extra for the cost, but I’m VERY happy with my LX version of the current Z68’s…ASUS is reliable and the software utilities MUCH better than other companies. (Well, that board’s got a decent sound card built in, but I already have one so…)
Tom McNamara - Asus got smart, and put the first set of RAM slots you use to be the ones /away/ from the cooler. You typically only need LP RAM for your /second/ set of RAM.
Oh, and I still recommend the Zalmans. Reliable as heck.
I noticed that on the Asus boards, but was thinking I might get LP RAM just to be on the safe side since it doesn’t cost more. There’s some nice looking G.skill Sniper sticks that run at 1.25v so they should produce less heat, which is always good.