Originally Posted by GreenFrog
Good stuff. Just narrowed down my CPU to the core i5 2500k processor. Now I'm looking for a good aftermarket heatsink that's SILENT.. but they all have fans attached!
edit: I have my cpu, motherboard, ram, SSD, and HDD for movies picked out, but I'm having the most trouble with the graphics card.
I'm aware of passively-cooled GPUs, but I'm getting the sense that these are of lower-performance.. any recommendations?
You can get really quiet heatsinks with fans (you need it with a quad core). I suggest a Noctua for QUIET cooling (expensive, but it really is the best for performance and quiet): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608014
The i5 2500k is perfect for gaming.
Micro Center is still running the z68 mobo for $50 off with the 2500k promotion. Hard to go wrong with either Gigabyte or Asus (I've mostly used either in the past), but this Asrock is enticing at the price: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0384988
The reviews seem on par with those of major board players. Most are very happy, a few have problems.
If you want to play BF3 then you're actually going to want a fairly beefy GPU. I run a HD 6950 2gb and it runs the game fine. The GTX 680 and HD 7950 are both overkill but are better for future proofing. Depends on what you want. If you don't care about future games, then wait for the prices on the GTX 5xx and HD69xx prices to drop even more.
You want a case with built in sound dampening and/or quiet fans. Usually a front door will help reduce sound output from leaving the case too. For budget conscious builds I'd go with the Fractal Define R3 (larger version is the XL). If you have more money to spend and want a case that will last FOREVER, then get the Silverstone Fortress FT-2.
Get an SSD drive (or two). They absolutely make the biggest difference in day to day computer use over a mechanical HDD. Still need an HDD to store stuff like movies, music, data etc.
DO NOT skimp on the powersupply. You want at least 650 watts and ideally 750+ with at least a bronze certification and MODULAR wiring. Reduces the rats nest of extra power cables from becoming a nuisance. I like Corsair, some of the newer OCZ models, Enermax, higher end Antec, and surprisingly Rosewill out of left field
(not modular, but a surprisingly good PSU for the money). I absolutely trust the johnnyguru reviews of PSU's.
*edit* if you read the reviews, the GTX 680 is one of the quietest high end cards out there. The thing is, if you're gaming away, you either have your speakers blasting or headset on. You won't hear your GPU spin up. At idle, they're all pretty much quiet.