I'm currently planning to build a Gaming/Development sometime in the Spring/Summer of 2011. I want to try to get an idea of what directions I should be heading in to get what I want. I've been building my own systems since 1997, but I don't actively research unless I've actually got a system planned, so I always end up spending some time just getting back up to speed. My budget is set at USD $1200 +/-$150 (when is it ever minus?). Here's a brief overview of the plan as it stands now:
Mid-High range gaming graphics
ATX form factor (mid-tower or similar)
Front case door protecting power switch (cats love power switches)
SSD Boot Drive
Quad-core with Hyperthreading
Large file storage (500+GB storage available via Linux server)
Build Priorities: (ie: when you have to choose between...)
67% Quietness / 33% Power
50% Reliability / 50% Cost Efficiency
Now, the questions I have at the moment are:
- Obviously Sandy Bridge is the prime target for the build. At the moment I expect to grab one of the Socket 1155 CPUs. I don't see much to gain in the 1356 or 2011 sockets as they will be far more power than I would normally use. Looking at the planned releases, the i7-2600S looks appealing due to its lower TDP, hyperthreading, and the fact that I don't see a need to overclock. However, the released price list has it being sold at $306 while the unlocked i7-2600K is at just $317. The i7-2600 is actually cheaper than the S model. Is there something I'm missing about the S model? Why does it cost more? At that point, should I just go for the K and overclock if I feel like it? Is there any benefit to the lower TDP of the S? Or is it just lower because of the weaker video unit that I won't be using anyway?
- One of the first questions I have to figure out is what case the whole thing goes in. My current systems use an old Sonata II case and a P182. Obviously, the P183 is a contender for the new build, but I'd consider other options. The Fractal Design cases are interesting. I believe that NCIX is stocking them now. I know this is a topic that's brought up a ton in the Cases forum and I've probably read through all the threads that are there. Still, I'm left undecided and not unwilling to look at other options. I feel that until I've worked out what sort of case it's going in, its hard to decide on other things like CPU heat sink, RAM (because of the HS), PSU, and even the video card to some extent. Do we think that Sandy Bridge and associated motherboards are likely to change any of the current thoughts about cases?
- I'd like to feel wild and crazy and try out an SSD as a boot drive. I know people are talking about upcoming revisions of the SSD tech and how its going to double sizes for the same price and be loads faster and buy everyone a pony. Is that actually happening? Will it happen within my timeline? Either way, is there any real benefit to SATA-III in real-world system usage?
- The build will sit next to a Linux box and accept audio-in from the linux box. As much as my novice understanding of electronics would suggest that I shouldn't have interference, the setup is regularly plagued by system-based interference on the sound-out. I'm considering trying an external USB sound "card". Does anyone have any experience with them? Are they worthwhile or should I just deal with the minor amount of static?