So I'm gonna be honest, this is my very very first go at this build, and pretty much all I did was select kind of what I wanted on newegg, and then sorted by best rating I did research on the processors, and I figured the one I selected is the one to go with. Motherboard selection was pretty much a crapshoot, I just want something basic that can support my processor/memory with PCI-Express. Graphics card is something else, I may need to look more into it. $300 is kind of pushing it for me, because I really don't want to spend more than $600 on everything, but hey I haven't upgraded in a while. Basically, I'm a heavy computer user, but not so much on the video games anymore (school/work = don't have time). I do play WoW on occassion, but more importantly, I just got Oblivion which we all know is heavy on the graphics. While I would love something that can make Oblivion look like real life, can I justify an expensive gfx card just for this one game? Right now, I have some AGP GeForce card (7 series maybe?) that I got for mid 100's and can support Oblivion on low texture, which surprisingly doesn't look that bad. Maybe I should switch to a gfx card that can support it on medium/high (my native resolution is 1600x1200 btw, I have a widescreen) okay and get something cheaper? So many gfx cards to choose from, help me out...
Oh, and another note is I've never overclocked anything because I've never really needed a performance bump cause I'm usually content w/ what I have. So I don't need overclocking-friendly hardware.
Will you be overclocking? If so, how much? The below assumes you will not be overclocking or only overclocking somewhat.
You should wait for April 22 - there are price cuts on C2D and new processors. The E6600 will be $218 and the E6420 (E6400 with 4MB cache) will be even less.
The 4-4-4 timing is not that important. I'd recommend going cheaper on the RAM and lower voltage. Right now, I'd go for either Corsair or G.Skill.
Unless you will be doing SLI, I'd recommend a Gigabyte DS3 mobo. Very solid and overclocks well (but does not support SLI).
Good graphics card. If you will be doing SLI, I'd highly recommend the 640MB though (from what I've read, the 320MB becomes memory limited in SLI).
Have you thought about other components?
For hard drives, if you want high performance (and price), go with WD Raptor (hard to beat 10k RPM). For pretty good performance and better pricing, go with the Seagate 7200.10 (make sure it is the .10 as that indicates perpendicular recording). The Hitachi T7K1000 looks like a really nice drive (1TB space and very good performance for a 7200 RPM) with performance and price in between the Raptor and 7200.10 - however, it is currently only available through OEM system builders (ex Dell).
Case is mostly a matter of personal preference. For my new system, I went with the Antec P180B ($129.99 and pretty often has a rebate). I've heard really good things about the Coolermaster Stacker 830 but it costs almost twice as much.
Do not skimp on a power supply. If you will not be doing SLI, I'd suggest looking at Seasonic S12 Energy+ or Corsair HX. If you will be doing SLI, you might be able to get by with one of those on 8800GTS (they don't supply enough power for 8800GTX SLI though).
-I won't be overclocking, or if I ever decide to, it will be very little (don't plan on it though)
-Good to know, I'm definitely a fan of price cuts. Are they releasing newer-gen processors then?
-How much impact does 4-4-4 have over other slower timings? I assume they make a difference but I guess I don't know just HOW much of a difference. From looking at the Corsair link, what diff does 4-4-4 vs 5-5-5 make and what does lower voltage do for me (since the voltages differences are pretty low).
-I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with SLI. From a quick wikipedia, it seems like it links up graphics cards to get more power from multiple cards. I seriously doubt I'll be doing this, especially since I'm already on the fence about buying ONE expensive graphics card I don't need a mobo to handle SLI.
-As far as other components go, I'll be stealing them from my current computer. Have 3 hard drives, the newest one being a 250 gig SATA, so I'll be happy with the drives I have for the time being (although I haven't heard about the perpendicular recording, so I'll def need to look into that). I'll definitely need to upgrade my power supply if I get that new graphics card... the question is, to how many watts would be safe? Those things seem to drain close to 200-300 on their own under load, so am I looking at 450-500W? I'll be using the same case as my current comp, because I don't mind it right now Might get a couple extra fans for it though.
I believe the only new processors on April 22 are the 6320 and 6420 (4MB cache versions of the 6300 and 6400). I think I heard some new processors are coming out in June but I'm not sure.
I'm not really sure on the RAM timings. They used to make a pretty big difference but multiple people told me that it makes very little difference with DDR2 (and I think I found a review after I heard that that backed them up). It will make a small difference but probably not enough to justify the price.
Yes. SLI is hooking up two nVidea video cards in-line to increase the performance. I've never thought it was worth it. New graphics cards come out too often - just buy a single newer card and get better performance than you would have from hooking up a second old card.
I'd recommend 500W+ watt PSU for 8800 and C2D. The Corsair 520HX or Seasonic S12 Energy+ 550 are both very nice (efficient and quiet). For other options, you can check out one of the tiered PSU lists linked from the PSU 101 article in the PSU forum on these boards.