I'll be building a new gaming rig when I go home in two weeks and I just ordered the parts on Newegg today. I thought I'd show off my new purchases here for critique or for anyone else thinking of upgrading to get ideas from. For basic research I highly recommend RPS's new hardware series Hard Choices
. The author boils down all the gibberish into just the essentials and offers a handful of recommendations if you really just need to be told what's the best bang for the buck. After that it just a matter of reading reviews on specific parts or using basic Google-fu to compare one option versus another.
For reference I will be upgrading a 4-5 year old PC that was running on Core2Duo 2.66Ghz, Nvidia 8800GT, 2Gb RAM, and Windows XP with a 500Gb hard drive. I'm keeping the same monitor, peripherals, case, power supply, DVD drive, and the hard drive for a backup. However, I may consider upgrading the case and/or power supply if I think it's needed once I get home. It's doubtful though. I also plan to do simple overclocking of my new processor and hope to do it with the stock cooler, but if I can get significant gains by using an aftermarket one I might do it.
Processor: Intel i5 2500K.
Pretty simple choice. This seems to be almost universally considered the best for your money even after the new Ivy Bridge came out. Easy to overclock and will be the first CPU I do so.
Motherboard: This Asus Z68 board.
Quite a bit cheaper than the Z77 options, well reviewed, and one of the boards mentioned in the RPS article.
Video Card: XFX Radeon 6950 2Gb.
Very slightly cheaper than the other equivalent option Nvidia's GTX 560 Ti and heads-up comparisons seemed to give it a very slight edge in performance. Both were the top two choices in the video card RPS article.
RAM: Patriot 8Gb.
The general consensus seems to be that 16gb isn't really necessary over 8gb and this was 1/3 the cost of a 16gb setup.
SSD: OCZ 120Gb drive.
This will be my first SSD and I'm excited. Apparently OCZ doesn't have the established reputation of some other SSD brands, but this drive was well-reviewed and had the best price point at purchase. It also met all the checkboxes that the SSD RPS article said to check for. It will be my OS and games drive with my old 500Gb platter as backup.
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. The only thing about Professional I may have wanted would be the XP compatibility mode, but I already own XP so I can just do a dual-boot setup if I run into legacy issues with certain games.
Total cost after promo-codes and rebates: $750 with no tax and free shipping. Normally I aim for the $500-600 mark when I upgrade, but this includes an OS and a hard drive which I usually am not upgrading. Not bad. I can't wait to get home and put this baby together. Also, making my dad and brother jealous isn't a bad perk either. With the hardware slow-down that seems to be the trend nowadays I predict this system should easily last me another 4-5 years.