My last Home Theater PC ..i used a really nice Thermaltake DH101 HTPC ATX Case: Picture Here http://benchmarkreviews.com/images/reviews/cases/Thermaltake_VF7001BNS/DH101_16.jpg
which had a Intel C2C Q6600@4.2ghz, AMD HD 5850, 4GB DDR2 Ram, Gigabyte Motherboard. I landed up selling it including the nice case which costed quite a bit and still does even though its 4-5 years old..but anyways..i got a decent price on that old computer setup.
Last month i built my new rig, specs below
i5 3570k @ 4.6ghz - CM Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler with (two) 120mm Push/Pull
Asrock z77 Extreme4 Motherboard
Gigabyte Windforce3 7870 2GB Ghz Edition @ 1240mhz core & 1400mhz memory
8GB G.Skill Sniper DDR3 1600 - 500GB SataII HDD
XFX Core Edition 550watt PSU 80 Plus Bronze
LG 12X Blu-ray 180ms Combo Drive SATA Model UH12NS29
Thermaltake Versa II Case - (six) 120mm fans
50" Panasonic G10 Viera THX Plasma HDTV
Yamaha RX-V671 Home Theater Receiver (recently upgraded, needed more hdmi ports)
Polk Fronts, Boston Rears, Klipsch center, (two) 12" Infinity Powered Subs
Logitech MX 5500 Revolution wireless key/mouse
The i5 3570K processor i bought is one powerful processor, the best gaming CPU out there right now imho.. man that thing is super fast at any thing i throw at it. Example..with my old Q6600 at 4.2ghz..which today is still a fairly decent CPU...it would take me 30 minutes to convert a AVI file to DVD format. With my new i5 3570k at 4.6ghz, it takes me 8 minutes. If any of you guys or gals are looking for a Processor for gaming...save yourself a 100 bucks and get the i5 3570k over the i7 3770..the only difference of these two Ivy Bridge Intel Processors is that the 3770k has hyperthreading which is 4 cores with 8 threads. While the 3570k is 4 cores with 4 threads. If you are into heavy video editing and graphic design using powerful graphic design software and powerful video editing software...go with the 3770k then but if you are wanting to build a new computer for gaming... the i5 3570K is the best gaming processor in the world, period and at around 220 dollars...you cant go wrong and it will last you for the next 4-5 years guaranteed...maybe that last 4th and 5th year you may need to overclock it like how i have mine overclocked now but regardless..it will last you many years. The only reason why i've overclocked mine is that i love to overclock my pc hardware to get the most out of it from day 1.
Keep in mind the Intel will be release their next line of processors code-name Haswell later this year..although they are not expected to be of a huge leap over the current ivy bridge CPU's...and Haswell will require a new socket/motherboard requirement...it's not worth it if you already have a ivy bridge 3570k cpu or better. Remember to get the "K" version of Intel Processors...the "K" means it is unlocked so it can be overclocked. Intel even has a program you can pay a little extra which provides you with a full replacement of the processor if you happen to fry it/ruin it by overclocking it too far or using too much voltage,etc..if you break it by means of overclocking..Intel will replace it if you buy this warranty...which i think is a nice thing on Intel parts to do. I personally didnt pay for that extra warranty..i never ruined a CPU and i dont expect to ever do so in the future as i take precautions and i am careful when overclocking.
Also the Asrock z77 Extreme 4 motherboard i bought is a very good board for the price. You get all the high end features a 200 dollar board has for around 125 dollars which is about what i paid for my Asrock Z77 Extreme 4 mobo. It overclocks like a champ as well. I easily hit 4.6ghz on air cooling using a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler with two 120mm fans on the CPU cooler one to push air into the cpu and the other 120mm fan to suck out the used up hot air out into the back fan of my case which sucks out all hot air from my case.
I use six 120mm fans with my Thermaltake Versa II Mid-Tower Case..it is a very NICE case for air flow..it's made of high quality parts and is very sturdy and only costs around 60 - 75 dollars depending on where you buy it from. Here is a picture of it http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/products-model.aspx?id=C_00001998
The XFX 550 watt Core Edition Power Supply is made by the best manufacturers of power supply's (Seasonic) ...this XFX Core Edition PSU is simply a rebadged Seasonic brand Power Supply..so if your looking for a high end power supply at a low cost...find one of these XFX Core Edition Power supply...they are Seasonic PSU's..just rebadged with XFX company name, sorta like when you buy Blank Media like Memorex DVD's..they are really made by Ritek, same thing here..
One last thing ..i highly recommend this thermal paste - Arctic Silver CMQ2-25G Céramique 2 Tri-Linear Ceramic Thermal Compound ...i've used just about all the best thermal paste there is..i use to work in a computer shop that my friend owned and i helped build custom PC's for customers of ours and from my testing over the two years i worked there...this Arctic Silver CMQ2-25G Céramique 2 Tri-Linear Ceramic Thermal Compound is the best and safest. it gets 5c less than the next best paste out there and the deal breaker here is that you get 25grams of this stuff for 8 bucks at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100018
and best of all its non-conductive.
I was debating on the graphics card between the Gigabyte HD 7870 Ghz Edition and a HD 7950 which was a 100 dollar price difference. Im the type of guy when it comes to graphic cards i always go for the best bang for the buck. After extensive online research, suggestions by other hardcore computer enthusiasts, benchmarks,etc with a overclocked 7870 vs 7950 stock clocks...the 7870 overclocked actually slight beats a stock clocked 7950 in just about every game they were benchmarked against each other. Obviously a 7950 overclocked will beat a overclocked 7870 but that is not my point. My point is for a $100 dollars or so less..you can have the same or slightly better performance of a stock 7950 with a overclocked 7870.
I am fairly advanced in overclocking..done water cooling many times, did all sorts of mods to my past rigs so im comfortable with overclocking, delidding cpu's, using a modified bios for hardware parts,etc so i figured the best bang for the buck would be to get the Gigabyte 7870 Ghz Edition for two reasons....1. it comes out of the box with a WindForce X3 Cooler..which is one of the best coolers you can buy for a graphics card...this gigabyte card comes with this cooler built on it already..so no need to upgrade the graphics card cooler, on heavy load it never goes beyond 53c at my 1240core/1400memory ... 2. By overclocking it, i essentially have a HD 7950 video card (performance wise) and saved a 100 bucks at the same time.
I spent a week straight on researching just on the video cards out there, every review site that mentioned which card was the best bang for the buck named the AMD HD 7870 as the card to get, it is considered a higher mid-range card that can be made into a high end card by a simple overclock, Keep in mind some 7870's do not overclock as good as other 7870's depending on which brand it is and what type of cooling it comes with, Gigabyte was up there with the best of them along with a few other brands. One particular brand, i forget which brand it is but can get a stable overclock at 1300mhz Core believe it or not... im no fanboy of any brand..i was looking at Nvidia's stuff as well but i always tend to go with AMD because it always gave me no hassle with my Panasonic G10..i did have a Nvidia card some years ago that gave me issue with my Panasonic G10 so this is why i've stuck with AMD video cards since buying my Panasonic G10 Plasma HDTV.
I usually upgrade my video card every year and half or every two years. I may just buy a 2nd 7870 and go Crossfire with two cards when i need a graphics upgrade but for the time being...this Gigabyte Windforce3 7870@ 1240 core & 1400 memory is blazing fast which should last me a while considering i game at 1440x900 and i am content with x2 MSAA and x16 AF.
Blu-ray movies are excellent with this card and i just bought Crysis 3, i run Crysis 3 with all "Very High" graphic settings besides Shadows set to "High" and Shaders set to "High" with my resolution always set at 1440x900 for both desktop/net surfing and gaming and i get around mid 40's to high 40's frames per second with Crysis 3 although once in a while i go as far as 60 frames per second and some other area's as low as mid 30 frames per second. Crytek is notorious for releasing unoptimized games.. Remember Crysis 1? That game was not optimized that well at all... after some patches from Crytek it made the game much more stable and performance was helped quite a bit by patches and user-made mods. Crysis 1 without the patches ..the game was very sporadic with frame rates. The same thing is true for Crysis 3...the frame rates are way too sporadic at times...while my system is able to handle the game with almost all "Very High Settings" ... the frame rate fluctuates at times but to be fair.it does not hamper the gameplay at all..at least for me it does not but you can tell when it fluctuates from mid 50's to mid 30's..mostly when there are a lot of things going on far off into the distance..Crytek needs to clean that up with a patch. I do hope that Crytek comes and releases some great patches to help smooth out the sporadic frame rate we see in Crysis 3 that we saw in Crysis 1.
Crysis 2 to me was Crysis 1 but optimized much better. It was on par with the visuals of Crysis 1 but ran a heck of a lot better most of the time but with Crysis 3..there is a definite improvement with Graphics and Crytek simply did not optimized this game as much as they could have...lets just hope some patching will be done by Crytek because it bugs the hell out of me to see developers push games out that are not as optimized as they should be. The GPU's we have today..including mid range graphic cards have more than enough power to be able to run Crysis 3 at all high to Very high settings with absolute smooth gameplay....we should not be seeing any sporadic frame drops here and there like we do with Crysis 3.... but i am having a blast with Crysis 3 and its the best looking game to date. It is a Next Generation game..so those of you waiting for the PS4 and Next Xbox..if you want to see what those consoles will be bringing... watch some videos of Crysis 3 PC on all Very High settings on Youtube... that is what Next Generation will look like and probably even a bit better than Crysis 3 once developers get use to these new upcoming consoles coming out at the end of this year. Sony just released a in-game video of Kill Zone 4 running on PS4 hardware...it looks stunning...about on par with Crysis 3 on the PC with all Very High Settings. Lets hope sony does not make the mistake and sell the PS4 at a huge cost, i know microsoft will sell their console at a reasonable price... 400 bucks per console is about what i am willing to pay..not a cent more. One more tidbit about Crysis 3 ..most people that have already beat the single player are stating it took from 5-7 hours to beat..while that may seem a bit on the short side..most games now days..at least shooters are around that time frame as to how long the single player campaign is
Anyways...happy gaming and hope all you guys enjoy your home theater PC setups and of course gaming with it.