An update on my gaming rig:
I finished my update of my personal productivity rig a few days ago and overall, I'm very pleased with it. I used my existing Intel i5 Sandy Bridge CPU, mobo and soundblaster 5 channel soundcard with new and higher capacity RAM (8 GB), new Rosewill mini-tower case (exactly what I hoped for), new Rosewill 550W power supply (surprisingly good for the price), Nvidia GTX-760 graphics card, and 2TB of additional storage for future games. I know several of you suggested a larger 3TB drive but I was curious to try a SSD high capacity drive as I've never owned one and so far I'm glad I did. Subjectively (I haven't run any software tests on it yet) it's very fast and quiet (an important feature for me). Though this case has three more fans its predecessor (two for the graphics card plus a front intake case fan, it is actually quieter. It's whisper quiet at three feet and inaudible at six when the system is at idle or I'm using it for general productivity work. The fans do get a bit louder during game play but only a little, so I'm never aware of them during play as they are completely drowned out by game soundtracks. The only minor problem I've encountered is that I'm pretty sure the new RAM is bad so I'll have to exchange it but I'll do advanced replacement so I can still use the system in the meantime.
I tried a new download of Mass Effect 1 ($5-I'm loving PC gaming already for this alone
) to test the rig with all graphics settings maxed out and all I can say is OMG!
I was expecting graphics comparable to, or perhaps a little better than ME1 via the Xbox360 but the difference in video quality was profound! The ME1 graphics via the PC looks like a combination of quality film and state of the art CGI. The combination of the two looks makes the characters and environment look very close to reality. In short, it blew me away and it's like I'm playing ME1 for the first time. I can only imagine what ME2 and ME3 will look like (on the Xbox360 both looked substantially better than ME1 which was no slouch in its own right).
Then there's the sound: previously, I used HDMI out from my Xbox360 into a small, long out of production Yamaha mini-AVR (required due to space constraints on my desk). It produced perfectly good sound and I had no complaints. However, now I'm sending the sound analog out from the SoundBlaster Z soundcard to a Dared DV-6c hybrid tube amp. The sound quality is superb and noticeably better than the Yammy amp.
All in all, I'm very happy I made the switch from Xbox360 to PC for gaming.
1: Replace the new, defective RAM.
2: Get another, 3 or 4 TB HDD for backup of the new 2TB drive. Over the past few days I've downloaded ~ a dozen games and though the process was mostly painless, it was also time consuming. I don't want to repeat the process due to drive failure with no backup.
3: Start acquiring the parts for an even better rig next year. I want to make it clear up front that I blame all of you for this
but seriously, I like my admittedly new and brief experience with PC gaming enough that I want to build a system optimized for it from the start. Note that part acquisition may start as soon as Friday, but I'm in no hurry to build a complete system in the near-term. I envision just grabbing parts as I see really attractive pricing. The nice thing is that my current rig will not go to waste when I'm ready to assemble the new rig. In fact I'll have two options: 1-Sell my current rig intact as is or 2-Use the parts (with the exception of the GTX-760, I may keep it and acquire another one for SLI) for a peripherals test rig. I already have the open frame case and power supply for it.
New case and tube hybrid amp: