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First build - looking for comments/advice

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Last response: in Systems
March 18, 2006 1:15:51 AM

Looking to build a decent gaming rig. I'd like to keep it under $2k, but I'm flexible. After much research, here's what I came up with on Newegg. I'm open to any and all constructive criticism and/or advice...


ASPIRE X-Navigator ATXA8NW-AL/500 Silver/Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail $154.00

ASUS A8N-SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $114.99

eVGA 256-P2-N563-AX Geforce 7900GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $309.00

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 1GHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA4400CDBOX - Retail $463.00

CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model TWINX2048-3200 $180.00

Atech Flash Xm-4U 11-in-1 USB 2.0 Black Internal card reader - Retail $24.99

SONY Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM $9.99

2 Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $188.00

NEC Display Solutions AS900-BK Black 19" CRT Monitor D-Sub - Retail $179.99

SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM $20.99

SAMSUNG 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model SH-W162Z / BEBN - OEM $35.99

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail $115.99

Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound - OEM $4.99

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro Cooling Fan with Heatsink - Retail $34.99

Subtotal: $1,836.91

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/wishlist/PublicWis...

More about : build comments advice

March 18, 2006 4:57:30 PM

A few things, one... get the 4200+ instead of the 4400+, cheaper, or if you don't mind OCing, the Opteron 165, it has the large cache you seem to want, and overclocks like nothing else.... plus its cheaper than the 4400+. Two, get a third-party PSU, you won't regret it.... a make like Tagan, Seasonic, Antec, or Hiper all do excellent quality PSUs which will keep your components safe from power surges and maintain very stable voltages.... Three, there's better thermal compound than that, being Arctic Silver 5 and Arctic Cooling MX-1. I think that should help you save some money whilst maintaining an overkill system.
March 18, 2006 7:44:26 PM

Thanks for the thoughts. Here's where I'm at...

CPU: I feel pretty committed to the 4400+ at this point. As far as the X2s go, this seems to offer the best bang for the buck, and reviews seem to support this (it has the larger L2 cache, and has some decent OC ability). My only debate has been whether to go with this or the Opty. Everyone seems to love the Opty, but I am not planning to OC just yet. Also, I want to stick with air cooling and stay away from liquid, so shouldn't OCing be a gradual process anyway, especially for a beginner? In light of this, X2 seems the way to go, offering better performance out of the box. Anyone have any more thoughts on this?

Mobo: I've heard different opinions on Asus, but I've never really seen a bad review, and the good seems to outweigh the bad. But, I'm not glued to it - I just need more insight. As for SLI, I had planned on utilizing this down the road when more games and apps were fully utilizing this. My understanding is that SLI is a little better integrated than cossfire, which is why I went the nvidia route. Can you elaborate why I should get a non-SLI mobo? Or is it worth spending a bit more for a better SLI or crossfire mobo?

Case/PSU: I admit I chose this combo partially because it has such a killer look. I really do like the case, though (at least from what I have read) - It includes 5 fans, has plenty of room, good cooling ability, and could support future builds with relative ease. Of course, it only comes with a PSU. Originally, I had selected the steel case (virtually identical, but heavier and only $100), but user reviews prompted me to go for the aluminum, if for nothing else than it comes with at least a decent PSU. I had always planned on replacing the PSU once I tried SLI or OC, but is this a waste perhaps? Am I better finding a stand alone case and better PSU? If so, can anyone suggest a case that has everything this case has ($154 seems an awful lot to be buying a separtate PSU).

Thermal compund: Cost is negligible here. I had heard good things about Ceramique, but I'll take the best quality to insure I have no problems down the road.

Thanks for everyone's helps!
Related resources
March 18, 2006 9:17:43 PM

if you havent started OCing yet you may want to consider getting your computer built first using the stock AMD cooler and compound (both of which are very good for being just stock) this way you can get your system up and runnig and dont void your warranty.

here what i think about sli. What make more sense adding a second outdated card or buying a brand new state of the art card. that will most likely beat the 2 crappy cards.
March 19, 2006 2:17:40 AM

My thought with SLI is that it seems to be taking off. I would probably not simply add another 7900 a year from now, but may in fact decide later on to go with 2 new cards. I simply wanted to have the option, since Mobo is the single most difficult component to upgrade. Is SLI really a waste of time? That being said, is a non-SLI ASUS board a good way to go, or should I head towards DFI or another brand?

As to heatsink/fan, does it really void the warranty to use the non-AMD? It was suggested to me before that it would not be sufficient, but perhaps that is only for OCing.

I will have to check out the case wusy suggests in the mean time.

Sorry for all the questions, but I am trying to get educate myself as much as possible. Thanks for the continued suggestions.
March 20, 2006 1:17:33 AM

I can't find warranty info on AMD processors anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find this?
March 20, 2006 2:33:22 AM

Quote:
I can't find warranty info on AMD processors anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find this?


Boxed retail AMD processors carry a 3 year warranty from AMD. OEM processors sold at Newegg/Mwave are 30 days/1 year.
March 20, 2006 3:15:51 AM

my friend is building a much better rig than that for only $1500, dont waste your money on a 4400 the Opteron 170 is cheaper and it will work just as good and overclocks better. We also found a X1900XT for $450 at newegg, that my friends is a grab.

X1900XT
March 20, 2006 5:26:13 AM

Quote:
Boxed retail AMD processors carry a 3 year warranty from AMD. OEM processors sold at Newegg/Mwave are 30 days/1 year.


Thanks, but I was actually looking for a specific policy on using after-market heatsinks/fans. Fortunately, I finally found it on AMD's extremely difficult to navigate site:

http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/TechnicalResources/...
March 20, 2006 6:00:39 AM

p8ntslinger, see my post above in regard to Opty vs X2. What I really need to know is:

1. If I never OC, is Opty still preferred?
2. If I MAY OC just a little down the road, would it make a significant difference to have the Opty over the X2?
3. Why does AMD even make the X2 if the dual core Opty's are so superior (many preach this, though this seems to be far from unanimous)?

By the way, is there really a significant diff in performance between X1900XT and 7900GT? The 7900 is only $300, after all.
March 20, 2006 6:16:16 AM

Quote:
p8ntslinger, see my post above in regard to Opty vs X2. What I really need to know is:

1. If I never OC, is Opty still preferred?
2. If I MAY OC just a little down the road, would it make a significant difference to have the Opty over the X2?
3. Why does AMD even make the X2 if the dual core Opty's are so superior (many preach this, though this seems to be far from unanimous)?

By the way, is there really a significant diff in performance between X1900XT and 7900GT? The 7900 is only $300, after all.

1. Depends on which one has higher clock speed.
2. No, you may get 200 more mhz tops. Get what is cheaper if you aren't seriously planning on it.
3. Opteron's are for workstations. Overclockers aren't supposed to have them, it's surprising AMD hasn't cut off supply to the OEM shops.
4. Since you aren't planning on a serious overclock, forget DFI. I have had 4 of their boards go to $hit on me. Biostar, MSI, Asus Epox and such are good brands. As for the PSU, don't go cheap on it, as if it fails, your entire system might go "up in smoke" with it.
March 25, 2006 5:40:26 PM

Ok, after much scrutiny I have updated my build list. I upgraded case, PSU, and mobo from my last list, and switched brands on the video card (faster gpu). I am VERY close to buying, so please let me know if there is anything I need to re-consider. As always, much appreciation for any help. Here's the current list:


NZXT LEXA-NP Black/ Silver Aluminum/Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $124.99

ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $156.99

XFX PV-T71G-UDE7 GeForce 7900 GT EXTREME (520MHz) 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $315.00

Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-550 ATX12V 550W Power Supply - Retail $83.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 1GHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA4400CDBOX - Retail $460.00

CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model TWINX2048-3200 - Retail $180.00

Atech Flash Xm-4U 11-in-1 USB 2.0 Black Internal card reader - Retail
$24.99

SONY Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM $9.99

(2) Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $192.00

NEC Display Solutions AS900-BK Black 19" CRT Monitor D-Sub - Retail
$179.99

SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM $20.99

LITE-ON 16X DVD±R DVD Burner W/ 5X DVD-RAM Write Black ATAPI/E-IDE Model SHM-165P6S RTL - Retail $39.99

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail $121.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM $5.99

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro Cooling Fan with Heatsink - Retail $34.99


Subtotal: $1,951.89

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/WishList/PublicWis...
March 25, 2006 6:41:17 PM

Quote:
Ok, after much scrutiny I have updated my build list. I upgraded case, PSU, and mobo from my last list, and switched brands on the video card (faster gpu). I am VERY close to buying, so please let me know if there is anything I need to re-consider. As always, much appreciation for any help. Here's the current list:


NZXT LEXA-NP Black/ Silver Aluminum/Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $124.99

ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $156.99

XFX PV-T71G-UDE7 GeForce 7900 GT EXTREME (520MHz) 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $315.00

Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-550 ATX12V 550W Power Supply - Retail $83.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 1GHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA4400CDBOX - Retail $460.00

CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model TWINX2048-3200 - Retail $180.00

Atech Flash Xm-4U 11-in-1 USB 2.0 Black Internal card reader - Retail
$24.99

SONY Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM $9.99

(2) Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $192.00

NEC Display Solutions AS900-BK Black 19" CRT Monitor D-Sub - Retail
$179.99

SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM $20.99

LITE-ON 16X DVD±R DVD Burner W/ 5X DVD-RAM Write Black ATAPI/E-IDE Model SHM-165P6S RTL - Retail $39.99

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail $121.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM $5.99

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro Cooling Fan with Heatsink - Retail $34.99


Subtotal: $1,951.89

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/WishList/PublicWis...

Since you are willing to spend so much on a processor already, I recommend the Opteron 170. You will keep the 1mb of cache and have the potential for much higher overclocks (if you are lucky you can get 3.0ghz)
Also, just get the cheapest 7900gt and overclock. Paying extra for 20mhz is silly. Buy the way, don't buy it at newegg, they are all sold out and newegg loves to mark up in-demand items.
As for the processor cooler, get a Thermaltake Big Typhoon. It is far superior to the Arctic Freezer 64.
I'm not a fan of the A8N-SLI's at ALL, but I suppose that will serve your needs just fine.
March 25, 2006 6:48:43 PM

Stick with the X2 that you have it is a very nice cpu expecially if you are not planning to OC the X2's are3 better tahtn the opty only reason people prefer them is because they OC better.But if you are not even going to do it orr only a little you will get much better performance on a X2.Just to let you know the case you were thinking of before is really nice and you can get it without the PSU i will give you a link to it if you need me to.And the stock cooler on the 4400 is more than enough for you so if you want to save the money dont worry about an aftermaket cooler.
March 26, 2006 2:03:40 AM

Quote:
Stick with the X2 that you have it is a very nice cpu expecially if you are not planning to OC the X2's are3 better tahtn the opty only reason people prefer them is because they OC better.But if you are not even going to do it orr only a little you will get much better performance on a X2.Just to let you know the case you were thinking of before is really nice and you can get it without the PSU i will give you a link to it if you need me to.And the stock cooler on the 4400 is more than enough for you so if you want to save the money dont worry about an aftermaket cooler.


There are a few reasons I perfer the Opteron.
1) The X2s are not "better". The Opteron is a server grade chip and has higher quality control standards. Remember the chip is made for systems running 24/7/365. X2s are not.
2) The Opterons have 1MB of L2 cache per core, the X2s (below 4400+ only have 512KB per core)
3) As you state correctly, the Opterons are better for overclocking.
March 26, 2006 3:31:16 AM

Anybody realize that he has $2,000 to spend but is using a 7,200 RPM drive? Get at least 1 150GB 10,000 Raptor. (Preferably 2)
March 26, 2006 4:02:46 AM

I've stuck with X2 mostly because I don't plan to OC - just not comfortable with that yet. If I were, then perhaps I would go Opty and non-Asus board. Without OC, seems like the X2 is the way to go, no?

For the 7900gt, I actually changed cards because the evga had gone up in price (on newegg). The xfx is actually less expensive now and performs better out of box, so that seemed reasonable. I will probably stick with newegg for convenience on this ($15 isn't much considering the bulk shipping will be less and good RMA service if necessary).

For hs/fan, Big Typhoon seems like overkill for no OC. Now, perhaps I should just stick with the included hs/fan? Not sure. I wanted to add a little extra just to keep everything cool all-around. Maybe just my personal thing. No one seems to know for sure, but would using 3rd-party hs void my warranty from amd?

Sekeru, I would love that link for the case if you have it, though I think I have decided on the nzxt case now. Not cheap, but I think it can support the next few builds with all that space and cooling - might be worth the money. It looks so slick too!

Thought about the Raptors, but they are costly. If I go raid 0 on the se16's, would 10,000rpm make much diff? It is a question of value to me at this point. I could spend some more, but is it worth it (plus the extra heat/power needs)? If I do it this way, I might still have enough power and cooling down the road to add 2 more and put them in raid 0+1.

Thanks much for the feedback. Any additional insights are appreciated.
March 26, 2006 4:12:37 AM

Quote:
I've stuck with X2 mostly because I don't plan to OC - just not comfortable with that yet. If I were, then perhaps I would go Opty and non-Asus board. Without OC, seems like the X2 is the way to go, no?

For the 7900gt, I actually changed cards because the evga had gone up in price (on newegg). The xfx is actually less expensive now and performs better out of box, so that seemed reasonable. I will probably stick with newegg for convenience on this ($15 isn't much considering the bulk shipping will be less and good RMA service if necessary).

For hs/fan, Big Typhoon seems like overkill for no OC. Now, perhaps I should just stick with the included hs/fan? Not sure. I wanted to add a little extra just to keep everything cool all-around. Maybe just my personal thing. No one seems to know for sure, but would using 3rd-party hs void my warranty from amd?

Sekeru, I would love that link for the case if you have it, though I think I have decided on the nzxt case now. Not cheap, but I think it can support the next few builds with all that space and cooling - might be worth the money. It looks so slick too!

Thought about the Raptors, but they are costly. If I go raid 0 on the se16's, would 10,000rpm make much diff? It is a question of value to me at this point. I could spend some more, but is it worth it (plus the extra heat/power needs)? If I do it this way, I might still have enough power and cooling down the road to add 2 more and put them in raid 0+1.

Thanks much for the feedback. Any additional insights are appreciated.

Your current RAID solution is fine. Also, why do you want an Arctic Freezer 64 if you aren't overclocking? That is why I included the Opteron...
Stick with stock if you have no intentions of overclocking. It is very powerful, I have tested it. By the way, forget purchasing expensive Raptors. Your best bet is to RAID 0 the cheapest you can get and blow away the performance of a single drive.
March 26, 2006 8:22:59 AM

Good to know. It is hard to beat the value of the se16s. For the stock hs/fan, is the included thermal pad/application sufficient, or is it best to apply retail paste?
March 26, 2006 4:00:20 PM

Quote:
Good to know. It is hard to beat the value of the se16s. For the stock hs/fan, is the included thermal pad/application sufficient, or is it best to apply retail paste?


Included thermal pad sucks, at least it did on the XPs and A64s.. use some good thermal paste.
March 26, 2006 7:43:59 PM

Quote:
Good to know. It is hard to beat the value of the se16s. For the stock hs/fan, is the included thermal pad/application sufficient, or is it best to apply retail paste?

The thermal adhesive supplied by AMD is junk, either on the crappier aluminum block coolers or their high-end heatpipe coolers. I didn't even waste my time with it.
March 26, 2006 7:45:05 PM

Quote:
Good to know. It is hard to beat the value of the se16s. For the stock hs/fan, is the included thermal pad/application sufficient, or is it best to apply retail paste?

I was really referring to getting 2 older 36.4gb Raptors and doing RAID0, but 2 se16's will be plenty fast.
March 29, 2006 2:50:35 AM

just keep in mind if you dont use the stuff AMD supplies you are voiding your warranty. there really isnt any reason to replace the thermal pad if you arent OCing.
March 29, 2006 3:31:46 AM

He said it was a possiblity in the future.
March 29, 2006 4:08:23 AM

I may want to tinker with oc down the line, but I am also concerned with the life of the cpu. Though 3rd party paste/hsf may not be necessary for performance, wouldn't it contribute to longer life? If so, seems like a worthy investment.

Does AMD allow "approved" 3rd party paste/hsf under warranty? Has anyone ever rma'd after using 3rd party? Would AMD even know 3rd party parts were used? None of the AMD warranty documentation I've found addresses this.
March 29, 2006 4:19:58 AM

Haha, no. They would never figure out about something like that :o 
March 29, 2006 5:49:23 AM

Quote:
p8ntslinger, see my post above in regard to Opty vs X2. What I really need to know is:

1. If I never OC, is Opty still preferred?
2. If I MAY OC just a little down the road, would it make a significant difference to have the Opty over the X2?
3. Why does AMD even make the X2 if the dual core Opty's are so superior (many preach this, though this seems to be far from unanimous)?

By the way, is there really a significant diff in performance between X1900XT and 7900GT? The 7900 is only $300, after all.

1. Depends on which one has higher clock speed.
2. No, you may get 200 more mhz tops. Get what is cheaper if you aren't seriously planning on it.
3. Opteron's are for workstations. Overclockers aren't supposed to have them, it's surprising AMD hasn't cut off supply to the OEM shops.
4. Since you aren't planning on a serious overclock, forget DFI. I have had 4 of their boards go to $hit on me. Biostar, MSI, Asus Epox and such are good brands. As for the PSU, don't go cheap on it, as if it fails, your entire system might go "up in smoke" with it.

I don't understand why you say overclockers aren't supposed to have Opterons.

Opterons are titled as "workstation" processors. From what I have read they have no real difference in architecture than the x2's except for perhaps the cache. The thing that separates them is that since they are supposedly "workstation" processors they go through much more rigorous testing than the x2's do.
March 29, 2006 12:57:56 PM

Quote:
p8ntslinger, see my post above in regard to Opty vs X2. What I really need to know is:

1. If I never OC, is Opty still preferred?
2. If I MAY OC just a little down the road, would it make a significant difference to have the Opty over the X2?
3. Why does AMD even make the X2 if the dual core Opty's are so superior (many preach this, though this seems to be far from unanimous)?

By the way, is there really a significant diff in performance between X1900XT and 7900GT? The 7900 is only $300, after all.

1. Depends on which one has higher clock speed.
2. No, you may get 200 more mhz tops. Get what is cheaper if you aren't seriously planning on it.
3. Opteron's are for workstations. Overclockers aren't supposed to have them, it's surprising AMD hasn't cut off supply to the OEM shops.
4. Since you aren't planning on a serious overclock, forget DFI. I have had 4 of their boards go to $hit on me. Biostar, MSI, Asus Epox and such are good brands. As for the PSU, don't go cheap on it, as if it fails, your entire system might go "up in smoke" with it.

I don't understand why you say overclockers aren't supposed to have Opterons.

Opterons are titled as "workstation" processors. From what I have read they have no real difference in architecture than the x2's except for perhaps the cache. The thing that separates them is that since they are supposedly "workstation" processors they go through much more rigorous testing than the x2's do.
They don't. But to maximize your overclock, it's usually better to get an Opteron. Like I said, they should hit about 200 mhz more than what most X2's top at.
March 29, 2006 1:22:55 PM

Looks like a damn good system!
March 29, 2006 1:44:46 PM

Quote:
Thanks for the thoughts. Here's where I'm at...

CPU: I feel pretty committed to the 4400+ at this point. As far as the X2s go, this seems to offer the best bang for the buck, and reviews seem to support this (it has the larger L2 cache, and has some decent OC ability). My only debate has been whether to go with this or the Opty. Everyone seems to love the Opty, but I am not planning to OC just yet. Also, I want to stick with air cooling and stay away from liquid, so shouldn't OCing be a gradual process anyway, especially for a beginner? In light of this, X2 seems the way to go, offering better performance out of the box. Anyone have any more thoughts on this?

Mobo: I've heard different opinions on Asus, but I've never really seen a bad review, and the good seems to outweigh the bad. But, I'm not glued to it - I just need more insight. As for SLI, I had planned on utilizing this down the road when more games and apps were fully utilizing this. My understanding is that SLI is a little better integrated than cossfire, which is why I went the nvidia route. Can you elaborate why I should get a non-SLI mobo? Or is it worth spending a bit more for a better SLI or crossfire mobo?


Not all that long ago, my thought processes were very similar to yours. In fact, I bought the A8N32SLI/4400+ combo myself. I got a single 6800GS, planning to do SLI (this was before the 7900GT/GTX hith the shelves.

If I had it to do over again, I would have gone with a DFI/Opty dual and would have been clairvoyant enough to wait for the release of the 7900. I also thought I wouldn't be ready to OC very soon but within days of getting Windows installed, there I was playing with it. Look at it this way - for 43 more bucks, you can get the same specs as the 4400+ in an Opty. Sounds like a steal to me. And what do you lose by going to a DFI board?

Good luck and have fun!
March 29, 2006 1:46:48 PM

Quote:
p8ntslinger, see my post above in regard to Opty vs X2. What I really need to know is:

1. If I never OC, is Opty still preferred?
2. If I MAY OC just a little down the road, would it make a significant difference to have the Opty over the X2?
3. Why does AMD even make the X2 if the dual core Opty's are so superior (many preach this, though this seems to be far from unanimous)?

By the way, is there really a significant diff in performance between X1900XT and 7900GT? The 7900 is only $300, after all.

1. Depends on which one has higher clock speed.
2. No, you may get 200 more mhz tops. Get what is cheaper if you aren't seriously planning on it.
3. Opteron's are for workstations. Overclockers aren't supposed to have them, it's surprising AMD hasn't cut off supply to the OEM shops.
4. Since you aren't planning on a serious overclock, forget DFI. I have had 4 of their boards go to $hit on me. Biostar, MSI, Asus Epox and such are good brands. As for the PSU, don't go cheap on it, as if it fails, your entire system might go "up in smoke" with it.

I don't understand why you say overclockers aren't supposed to have Opterons.

Opterons are titled as "workstation" processors. From what I have read they have no real difference in architecture than the x2's except for perhaps the cache. The thing that separates them is that since they are supposedly "workstation" processors they go through much more rigorous testing than the x2's do.
They don't. But to maximize your overclock, it's usually better to get an Opteron. Like I said, they should hit about 200 mhz more than what most X2's top at.

There's also a reason why AMD hasn't stopped Opteron shipments to OEM's even though they're supposedly for "workstations." It's because that people who use them to configure workstations buy them for sure, but also people who overclock buy them a good amount as well. They know people use them for overclocking, they aren't going to cut off supply to OEM's because people buy them for that specific reason. AMD is a processor company, but it is also a business. They aren't going to cut off supply to somewhere where there is a good demand for their product.