I'm looking to put together a relatively inexpensive machine (probably around £600 to £700), mainly for gaming. I have a rough idea of what components would be appropriate, but what I've got so far is really just a first draft of a build - feel free to suggest major changes if it looks completely screwed up.
As far as I can tell, the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition (going for around £90) is a good deal for this sort of machine, right? The third core would be especially helpful for rendering in POV-Ray, which I do a fair amount of.
The ones I'm looking at are the Radeon HD 4870 1GB (~£105), the Radeon HD 4890 1GB (~£130), and the GeForce GTX 260 896MB (~£115). I really don't know whether to go for ATI or Nvidia here. ATI has DX 10.1 and better Linux support (?), Nvidia has PhysX and CUDA - but I'm not certain I'd even use any of those. As far as I can tell, the price/performance ratio isn't much different either (correct me if I'm wrong). Going for ATI would match the AMD CPU, but are there any advantages to that? My laptop had an Nvidia card and the drivers always struck me as being a bit flaky - but I don't know how much of that was down to me having to use hacked INFs to get them to install, and I have no idea what ATI's drivers are like nowadays for comparison. So, I could be persuaded either way.
I'm thinking AM3 - the price premium over AM2 (and of DDR3 over DDR2) doesn't seem to be that high any more, and while I can see how running an AM3 CPU in an AM2 board is a good option for an upgrade, it seems a bit odd for a new build. The MSI 770-C45 (£60) seems to be much cheaper than the competition - does it have any particular disadvantages, or is it just really good value?
2 x 2GB DDR3-1333 (~£55), nothing interesting to see here...
Everyone seems to like the Antec 300 (~£45), and it certainly seems good, but I'd be open to any other suggestions. One thing I was wondering about it - out of the box, its cooling consists of two exhaust fans only (at the top and back of the case). Is this a practical setup, or would I need to add intake fans to get adequate cooling?
The OCZ ModXStream 780W (£60) is a slightly older model, but seems to be ridiculously capable for the price (modular design and four 20A 12V rails). Unless anyone points out any glaring problems with it that I've missed, I think it's what I'll be getting.
Spoilered for inane tangent:
3.1.5. Catastrophic Failure Protection
Should a component failure occur, the power supply should not exhibit any of the following:
- Excessive smoke [sadly, they don't define exactly how much smoke it would have to emit to be considered "excessive"]
- Charred PCB
- Fused PCB conductor
- Startling noise [merely perturbing, off-putting or irritating noise is acceptable, presumably]
- Emission of molten material [wait, it's okay for it to "emit" solid material? I guess a PSU that chucks its capacitors at you when it fails would still be considered fully compliant.]
A cheap TFT (why do so few of these have DVI-D inputs? ), cheap HD, cheap optical drive, cheap keyboard, probably a wireless adaptor of some kind, I already have a good mouse, hopefully I haven't forgotten anything...
I know all of my links currently go to either Overclockers UK, Crucial, or Ebuyer, but if anyone wants to suggest any other (reasonably reputable) online UK parts vendors, go ahead (I also know of Dabs, but their prices tend to be a bit higher). Thanks for taking the time to read through all this, and for any advice you can give.