I spend many hours reading reviews and studying benchmarks. Some products consistently rise to the top. I have no axe to grind and am not a fanbois of any particular manufacturer.
If you're looking to build a quality but not ridiculously overpriced system, you won't go far wrong with these. Happy drooling1 (All links open in new Tab / Window)
CPU (processor), RAM (memory), mainboard, GPU (graphics card), SSD (Solid State Drive), HDD (mechanical Hard disk Drive), case, watercooler. radiator fans
This powerhouse is a multitasking, encoding and gaming beast. Built on 22nm lithography, it cruises at 4GHz and automatically boosts to 4.4GHz! With even a gentle overclock on air, 4.5Ghz and higher is easily achievable whilst remaining within voltage guardbands. It includes the new and improved Intel HD Graphics 4600 @ 1.25GHz consuming up to 1.7GB of RAM. It supports dual-channel RAM natively at 1600MHz but as it's unlocked, this isn't really a barrier. It also support PCI-e Rev 3.0 and can run 1 x 16 PCI 3.0 lanes or 2 x 8 PCI-e 3.0 lanes if SLI is your bag. (You will NOT saturate the bandwidth on either)
Gskill are a leading light in the world of RAM and hold many world records going up to 3400MHz! Now some of you may be thinking "faster RAM is just snake oil isn't it?" Well yes and no. It is up the reader to balance cost v performance increase. As a UK Yorkshireman, we have a reputation for being frugal. My philosophy is bang for buck. Also, the maximum speed of our little family car is about 110MPH - that said, I never drive that fast. In other words, having faster RAM than you actually need builds in headroom for tightening timings and latencies.
For example, my old Socket 775 mainboard supports 1333 DDR3 RAM, I bought 1600 and overclocked it to 1440MHz. Likewise, it's native timings are 9-9-9-24 2N but I've tightened it to 8-8-8-22 2N. Along with my Q6600 CPU overclocked from 2.4 to 3.24GHz - it's quite a (legacy) powerhouse. For those with doubts, take a peak of my 3D Mark Benchmark, 2rd fastest benchmark posted for my CPU / RAM / GPU.
Anyway, I've done my homework, 2133MHz seems to be the DDR3 sweetspot, so I've chosen 2400MHz for good luck.
Anyone, geek or not, who does not appreciate the aesthetics of that motherboard must live in a cave! It does all I will need for many years, has solid construction and excellent reviews. I need say no more.
New GPUs are coming out all the time. The Titan-X came out yesterday and the 230x is not far away. after that will be the 980Ti. I went for the 770 and have actually had this card for some time. There are many variants but this is the one I chose.
With a little tickling in MSI Afterburner, my Core Clock runs at 1254MHz and my GPU RAM strolls along at 7516.8MHz! This means with anti-aliasing set to 4X, I can get some pretty impressive benchmark results. Bear in mind I'm on PCI-e Rev 1.1, Socket 775 and SATA -II. See the screenshot below.
Unless you're going for PCI-e SSDs - this SSD is very, very impressive. Samsung actually manufacture the V-NAND Flash used inside, making it a very attractive proposition. I'll be covering SSD and optimal OS installation in a future Blog Post.
HDD (MECHANICAL HARD DISK DRIVE)
Take my word for it, you want 7200rpm, NCQ and good seek times. 7200rpm uses hardly any more power than 5400rpm and greatly improves seek times. Also, those Green / Energy Saving ones etc work by constantly altering the spin speeds which I have seen kill the motors of many hard drives first hand. This HDD, therefore, fits the bill. Furthermore, it has NAS 24x7 firmware and mechanics, meaning that it's designed for 24/7 use. Even if you're not running server or NAS, that surely can't be a bad thng.
It's a thing of beauty! a word of caution. When choosing a case, be wary of dimensions and compatibility. There are no standard form factors you can trust, so the words "large tower" or "gaming tower" are marketing waffle. Carefully check that the components you want will fit. Cover yourself by emailing the manufacturers directly. They want your business so will probably reply promptly!
This is a beast. 2 x 140mm fans are included. Personally, I will be ditching the 2 included fans and going with 4 of the Noctua ones in the next section. It SHOULD fit the case above at the front with some minor mods, I'm undecided on the case yet because of this reason so may well change as would like the Kraken X61 at the top of my new case.
These Austrian geniuses (or is that genii), refused to release a PWM version for some time. Why? Because there scientists are perfectionists and were still developing them. You can have confidence in Noctua. The build quality is awesome and I currently rejoice in 4 x 120mm fans. Just remember high airflow for case fans and high static pressure for radiators.
My philosophy is a mixture of ideas. I like certain manufacturers who have built up my trust over the years. I don't let singulat bad experiences put me off as EVERY company has a bad day. I aggregate the opinions of trusted reviewers and get a "feel" that way. All these opinions and recommendations are my own. They are made in good faith. That said, I obviously can't and won't accept any liability for anything, anytime, anywhere.
I've used the pics (except my screenshots) from the manufacturers' sites. As I'm effectively giving them free publicity, I doubt they will object.
Feel free to share, comment and ask questions. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading.