Man... this multi-quoting/posting is getting a bit unwieldly so I'll just type this straight up instead of quoting.
chicolom, Technically onboard Reaktek w/SPDIF out with hacked drivers + Fiio D3k is the cheapest route for DH through optical to an external DAC. It's actually not that hard, install hacked drivers, reboot, install DH control panel, reboot, done. The Xonar DGX route is more officially supported as the guy releasing the hacked drivers could quit releasing drivers at any time. And I believe the DGX is currently about $40 - $10MIR at most places.
Man... I wish I had a Microcenter nearby. That i5-4670k+Asus Z87-A bundle for $320 is a great price. The best price my local computer shop has for that bundle is $390 CAD (~$360USD). If you're okay with spending another $150 on your CPU+mobo then just get that. It is more powerful, and will probably last you through a few video card upgrades if you overclock the CPU.
A SSD boot drive will literally transform your computing experience where you will experience almost no lag after clicking and waaaay faster load times when browsing, running photoshop, office, etc and I'm not even talking about gaming. Actually, it probably has less of an impact on gaming since the only time a SSD will benefit gaming is at the loading at the start and at new level loads, the rest is bottlenecked at the CPU/GPU level. That and SSD storage is still too expensive per GB to throw your entire Steam gaming folder onto one. My Steam folder is actually on an old WD 500GB 7200rpm drive while I boot off a Crucial m4 128GB. I've got another 1TB 7200rpm, 1.5TB 5400rpm, 2TB 5400rpm drives for my other storage needs... plus I'm part way through rebuilding/upgrading my file server to 12TB.
SaLX, a 60GB boot drive would be a bit tight for space. Win7 x64 alone will eat about 20GB by itself, and throw on some Office and Photoshop, a 60/64GB drive won't last very long. And the 120/128GB SSDs are a better bang for buck $/GB wise vs 60/64GB. You only need hacked drivers if your m/b doesn't officially support DTS/DH. And surprisingly, my Sabertooth 990FX (#2 most expensive Asus AMD m/b) does not come with DTS or DH... only some cheap and lame Realtek vitual headphone driver. I guess they spent all the money on the fancy circuitry and power regulation for O/Cing instead of licensing DTS for the audio and they probably assume that if I'm spending this much on an O/C m/b that I'd probably have a separate sound card. Also, you're right about the Asus AI o/cing... but only relative to Intel setups. The AI is not so smart when it comes to older power hungry AMD hardware like mine. My PC at work is an i5-3570k on Asus Z77V-Pro and the AI o/c it 4.1GHz easily and it's stable (it's my work PC after all). And I do NOT wear a robe (unless you count bathrobe occasionally) and use skulls and candles (fire hazard). But the whole quiet, dark chamber, and chanting do apply.
NamelessPFG, you're absolutely right. I was digging through reviews and roundups to find where I read about the GPU being the limit in most cases and it was here:
That was for the purposes of gaming at 2560x1440, not 1920x1080, so it's not that relevant here. I did find another link with info that is more relevant in spirit rather than testing with the exact hardware, but they do test at 1080p:
Yes, I hate our spinelss Prime Minister at the time...not that I was even born back then, we could have beat you Americans to the first super cruising all weather interceptor as well as a bunch of other innovations.... and it would have taken NASA a LOT longer to land a man on the moon without all those ex-Avro engineers. Funny thing is there's another Avro_Arrow on this site that I didn't realize was there when I registered and I almost used the same avatar picture as him.
chicolom, depending on the game engine, the CPU can impact FPS by a lot, even with a lower/mid-tiered video card, like Civ V as NamelessPFG pointed out. If you compare the FX-8150 and i5-3570k from that Techreport article, here are the following avg FPS boost for jumping on the Intel: Skyrim +52%, Arkham City +42%, Crysis 2 +14%, Battlefield 3 +4%. They are using a Radeon 7950 in the article which is the next step up from your 7870 so the info should be fairly relevant.
Whew... lots of typing...
The TL:DR version of my recommendation is that if you can afford another $150, return the AMD CPU/mb and get the i5-4670k+Asus Z87-A bundle from microcenter, drop the $30 LED controller if you have to . It will remove any realistic CPU bottleneck for your build. Skip the DGX for now to save money, install the hacked Realtek drivers to get DH out the SPDIF port, get a Fiio D3k for the optical DAC to feed your amps. Done. When you can afford it later on, buy the DGX, SSD (will have to re-install Windows again, ugh), etc to round out the build, maybe a 2nd 120mm fan for the Hyper-212 for push/pull config for better cooling (I run a Hyper-212+ w/2x 1450rpm Gentle Typhoon w/ZM-MFC1 fan controller on my rig).
And after you get it all put together and powered up, do NOT overclock yet. Install Windows and your other apps/games and run it for a couple weeks on auto/default clocks to make sure that all your parts are good and stable, especially the RAM. I spent more than a whole weekend helping troubleshoot my friend's new constantly blue screening AMD cpu/mb/ram upgrade a few months back... turns out 1 of 4 sticks of RAM (from a 4x4GB kit) was faulty and memtest86+ did NOT detect it, even after multiple 12hr test runs... arrggghh... and this was all running at stock speeds. As soon as you start overclocking, it becomes exponentially harder to troubleshoot a flakey system. So make sure all your components are good and stable before venturing into the overclocking world. It will save you time in the long run... believe me... I've been overclocking since the legendary Celeron 300A days... and I still forget sometimes.
Edited by AvroArrow - 12/7/13 at 2:02pm