I'm currently gaming on the system below which I got pre-built from Scan:
Intel 980X @ 4.2ghz (Water)
2 x GTX 480's SLI (Water)
6 GB RAM - Corsair Dominator GT - 2000mhz
120 GB OCZ Vertex - System Drive
1 TB WD Caviar Black
Sound - Through GTX 480's - Nvidia HD drivers
Corsair HX1000 - PSU
Corsair 800D Case
I'm very happy with it but it's 2 years old now which is about the time I normally look to upgrade and as it's still in warranty I can hopefully get the watercooling loop flushed at the same time
1. CPU / Mobo
For the first time in a while I'm not too sure whether to change the mobo & CPU. The 980X still runs well and Ivy Bridge hasn't really blown it away. On the other hand the 980X is very hot and power hungry and the X58 is a much older platform so maybe changing to a Z77 and selling my current mobo/ RAM/ CPU would be a good idea.
I could go for either of these two bundles (or something else???):
The alternative would be to keep the 980X and invest in a 512GB (or possibly 3x256GB) SSD's to improve and speed up loading in games such as a heavily modded Skyrim.
2. Graphics cards
I have pretty much made up my mind to replace (& sell) my GTX 480's with GTX 680's - probably these ones:
The water loop is set up for two cards so I imagine it will be a straight swap.
3. Soundcard...or not?
I also think that I will buy a better set of speakers as the ones I have at the moment are notably "noisy" and ill defined at times when gaming.
I'll be getting the Z906's as guys on here have given good feedback on them:
I am trying to decide though whether I should use either onboard sound (currently a Realtek ALC889 - I think) or something similar if I go for an Ivy bridge setup or whether a discrete soundcard would be worth the extra £75 to £100.
The only issue is whether putting a soundcard into one of the PCI-E slots on the mobo would knock the 2 graphics cards from 16x/16x/1x/1x to 8x/8x/8x/8x. Ideally I would prefer to have both gfx cards at 16x/16x and forgo a soundcard if necessary. However I'm assuming that the soundcard going in a 1x slot should be sufficient??? (Hope this makes sense to you - I only vaguely understand about how the bandwidth on these slots is apportioned out)! From what I've read GTX 680's are bandwidth limited at 8x/8x on PCI 2.0 so if the soundcard would interfere with them running at 16x/16x I probably wouldn't bother. Be really good to get some clarification on this so I can tie down my upgrade build.
If I was going for a soundcard I would probably choose something like this:
Having had major issues with soundcards in the past and SLI setups I was also hoping that somebody would be able to confirm that the issues with a lot of hissing / crackling and popping have now been cleared up. I think it was due to lack of bandwidth again on the PCI lanes with 2 gfx cards causing brief losses of data to the soundcard and causing this feedback.
Sorry about the length of the post. I hope you have been able to bear with me as I would definitely appreciate some advice on what people would choose to keep / upgrade in my position. I am happy to consider anything as a replacement within the budget of £2,000.00 to £2,200 ish.