I'm looking for some advice on an upgrade. Here's what I'm currently running:
- CPU: Intel Q6600
- Mobo: nForce 680i
- RAM: 4GB DDR2-800
- GPU: 8800 GT 512MB
- HDD: 1TB WD Black, 250GB WD 2500YS
- Case: NZXT Zero
- PSU: Rosewill 850W
- Display: 1680x1050
- Speakers: Logitech 5.1 (analog connectors)
My usage is mixed. I'm a programmer and a gamer. I don't play many new games, but I'd like to when I get better hardware. I often have several games running simultaneously, e.g. TF2, Minecraft and three instances of EVE-Online. Those games have grown ever more memory- and graphics-intensive, and my machine just doesn't cut it anymore. I like to dabble in 3D modeling and video editing, and I would love to have a computer that can record video while I play games. I want solid support for virtualization, including VT-d. I'm willing to overclock, but I won't be pushing my limits and I won't pay a large premium for it. I would prefer to run at near-stock speeds with a stock cooler, if possible. My current machine is very noisy and very hot, so I'd like a change in that respect. I'm currently using the slower 250GB HDD as my system drive (don't ask) and when I upgrade I'll be switching to the 1TB, which so far has served as a storage drive. I'd like to purchase in the next 1-3 months.
It seems reasonable to grab an Ivy Bridge CPU. Looking at the features chart, I think I want either an i7-3770 or an i5-3570. I'm not interested in the K-series chips since they won't have VT-d support and I don't care much about overclocking.
Is there any reason to go SB instead of IB? Which of those two IB CPUs do you recommend? (The big difference looks to be hyperthreading, which might be helpful since I plan to do a lot of virtualization.)
The Z77 boards look pretty solid. I particularly liked the MSI board, but I don't understand the difference between the five-ish MSI boards on Newegg. What features should matter to me, and why?
When I first built my current machine, I started with two 1GB sticks. About six months later, I bought another two. I'd like that same kind of flexibility, and I tend to use a lot of memory. To those ends, I think I want a 2x8GB DDR3 kit. I want to buy with a later upgrade to 4x8GB in mind, so I'm concerned about memory speeds. How fast can I go with four DIMMs, given that IB only has a dual-channel controller? Is there any point paying the premium for memory faster than DDR3-1600? Any specific product recommendations?
My 8800 GT is the single-slot kind, and it's loud. I hate it. I want something much quieter. I suspect a typical double-slot cooler will do just fine, but I just want to emphasize that I do not want another wind tunnel in my machine.
I'm sort of an Nvidia fanboy. I will consider AMD cards, but it'll take a really good reason to convince me to switch. One important feature is digital audio directly over the GPU's HDMI output, but last I checked, both vendors supported that.
My graphics demand isn't huge, but like I said, I might want to play some newer games. As crazy as this sounds, if I get an IB chip with the HD 4000, could I use that for a little while and think about getting a GPU later? Will it handle the games I play? (The most graphically demanding are probably BF:BC2, EVE-Online and Portal 2.) Otherwise, I was looking at a GTX 560 (non-Ti). Is 1GB video memory enough? I'm only driving a single 1680x1050 screen at the moment, but I can also imagine wanting to drive two 1980x1050 or 1980x1200 displays (both with games like EVE) with this machine.
I'll be switching to the 1TB WD Black for my system drive. I'm considering picking up an SSD, but I'd like to see how my budget shapes up. If I do get an SSD, I'm not cutting corners; I want something with a good capacity (>200GB) and very high speeds.
The NZXT Zero has given me a few problems (and it's big) but I think I'll keep it for now. I did have some electrostatic issues; the panel on the motherboard side seems to be warped a little convex, and I sometimes had issues where walking near the machine would cause it to shut down. This seemed to cause some related motherboard issues where I had to remove the CMOS battery for an hour before it would start up again. It's not a continuing problem, and it never caused any permanent damage.
This Rosewill supply seems solid, and I've never come close to pushing its limits with my current build. It's probably saved my components on several occasions, because I sometimes run my machine in a rural area where the power quality isn't great due to frequently-falling trees. More than once, the power has dipped for a good half-second and my computer has stayed on. I don't expect a new build to exceed 850W, but do I need to worry about connectors? Age? (It's about 4.5 years old.)