Recommended Components - Gaming System

I am planning on assembling a fairly robust “Gaming” system for my grandsons and am looking for specific recommendations (links and prices) for hardware components.

The system will be running Windows 7 Ultimate (32 or 64 Bit) and will have Office 2003/2010 loaded (for homework, of course).

The budget for this enterprise is $1,500 - $2,000, but could stretch a little if needed.

I usually buy component parts from Newegg, so if you include links with your list it will make the shopping a lot easier.

Thank you
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
What are they intending to play?
There is little point including a 32-bit host system go straight for 64-bit although what features of Ultimate do you need over a cheaper flavour of Windows 7?
Does your budget include monitor & are you considering 3D or at least "3D Ready"?
younghvAuthor Commented:
Great questions.
<<What are they intending to play?>>

I don't know the names of the actual games - they are new this year and bog down their old Dual-Core system to a crawl.

Concur on 64 bit - plus a goodly amount of RAM...but how much and which flavor I don't know.

I just bought them a new monitor a couple of months ago and it is not 3D. They both have birthdays coming up, so maybe "3D Ready" should be considered (for the Video Card). Monitor is NOT included in this. Thanks for clarifying.

Their old system was 7 - Ultimate, but I have a spare license for Home Premium. Good comment, I hadn't given it any thought.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The easy part is the motherboard/CPU/RAM/SSD ...

If you're not planning to overclock the system and are happy with a single video card, this is a great board (I've used it for several systems):      ($115)

If you need 2 PCIe x16 slots (for a 2nd video card) or if you think you may want to overclock, this is a good choice:    ($210)

For the CPU, use this:   ($320)

Memory (8GB is plenty):   ($47)

For the system drive, use this SSD:    ($170 with current rebate)

Total to this point ~ $650 to $750 depending on your motherboard choice.

The rest of the system requires a few choices ...

=>  Optical drive.    I think a simple DVD-R/W is fine ... I usually use this one:   ($26)
... but you may want to spring for one that also plays BluRays -- or even a BluRay burner.     This would bump the optical drive up to the $100 range.

=>  Additional hard drives.    I'd add at LEAST one Caviar Black drive ... and probably a Caviar Green for backups.     But as you know hard drive prices have nearly tripled since the recent flooding Thailand, so you may want to use lower capacities than you otherwise might have.     A 500GB Caviar Black is currently $130 at Newegg;  and a 1TB Caviar Green is $140.     That pair would add $270 to the system.

=>  Case.    This is a very personal choice ... and your grandson is unlikely to like what I'd choose for myself :-)        This is not a case I'd use for myself (don't like the "bling") ... but it's a very popular "gamer" case, and has excellent ventilation:    ($100)

=>  Power Supply.    I'd use a high-quality PSU with at least a 750w rating.    These are a couple of excellent choices (boils down to whether you want to pay $35 for "neatness"):

(a)   ($150)   A superb modular supply, which eliminates most extraneous wiring in the case.

(b)    ($115 with current rebate)    An excellent non-modular supply.

So ... if you went with a BluRay burner, modular PSU, both of the extra hard drives I listed, and the Antec 900 case you'd be up to $1270 to $1370 so far.

The only remaining choice is the video card.    For a good gaming system, I'd use a GTX560 or better.   I'd think this would be plenty of graphics "oomph":   ($220 with current rebate)
... but you can go as high as $700 for a  water-cooled, overclocked GTX580:

Personally I'd use either the GTX560 or a GTX570  ($340):

Add $100 for a copy of Windows 7 and you're done ... easily under the $2,000 limit unless you opt for the water-cooled video card and/or larger hard drives (I'd wait until next year for those -- the prices should come back down by a year out from the flooding).

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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
LOL this is pretty much identical to the list I was putting together, spent a while converting my UK links to Newegg -  garycase & I seem to be on the same page with motherboard too!

It's a pain Newegg don't include the product name in their links :)

Only thing I'd add is Corsair instead for the modular PSU and 6GB RAM as you can usuall get a deal on a 3 x 2GB pack and I still haven't found a game that plays better on 8GB than it does on 6 (but that will change).

Give the man the points :)

And don't forget to add Skyrim to that bundle!
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Definitely would NOT use 3 x 2GB of RAM => the Sandy Bridge chipsets are dual-channel; not triple-channel.    You'll run in a less-efficient mode with 3 modules than you would with a pair of 4GB modules [and at current prices memory is practically "free" anyway !!]
younghvAuthor Commented:
Great stuff guys!
Thanks a lot.

The boys are on their way over right now and I'm in the middle of getting ready.

I will be back later tonight or tomorrow morning if I have any questions.

Thanks again!
I would agree on the i7-2600K as a great performer for the price - it ranks 11 in the benchmark charts:

If you want something bigger than a micro-ATX motherboard, the bigger brother P8P67 would be a good choice.

I have the GTX560 Ti and will vouch for it being able to handle just about any game, including Battlefield3 on high settings - just make sure the cpu is an i7 (any flavor).

Too bad you missed the OCZ Solid3 sale at the beginning of the month, which featured an SATA3 120GB SSD for $160 minus a $30 rebate.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Intel also had a VERY nice sale over the Black Friday weekend -- a 120GB 320 series drive was $120 after rebate !!    But the pricing was only good for one day ... I missed seeing it until it had already expired (or I'd have a "spare" 120GB 320)
younghvAuthor Commented:
I just placed the order from the list provided by garycase - total of $1,436.56 - which does not include airfare for you guys to fly over and help me put it together.

Adding Skyrim was only another $60 with free shipping, so the whole thing came in under the lower range of the budget.

Battlefield3 is one of the games they play. I got that free when I bought something earlier this year. They really like it, but it "lags".

Thanks for all the input - I really count on you guys to steer me right.

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