My last build was about four years ago, and since then I have not been in the PC technology loop, and also haven't had much time to upgrade.
This isn't an immediate thing though, I plan on building/completing this within a year or so, (wait for Vista/DX10 to iron out the kinks, wait for DX10 games, save money), but here is what I had in mind. Slowly part by part is the only way I can do it, and I'm not all that concerned on being on the absolute cutting edge of technology, just something that will last me a while, and is easily upgradeable.
1. Quad Core CPU - I hear the Intels are dropping in price soon. How future-proof are they? How will they stand up a year or two from now? I mean something like the Q6600. Games like Project: Offset, Alan Wake and Crysis is what I'm aiming to hopefully play. What kind of heatsink would you recommend?
2. Video Card - Pricey huh? For the DX10 games like I mentioned above, how will say a GeForce 8800 stand up in 1-2 years? For the GPU DX10 market, how does ATi's stuff compare performance/price wise to nVidia?
3. RAM - I know that Vista is somewhat RAM intensive, so again, in a year or two, how much will I need to play (well) the games I want?
4. Motherboard - No idea about which mobo, though CPU wise I'm aiming for the Q6600 CPU. Suggestions?
5. Case - I've narrowed it down to either the Antec P182 or the Antec Nine Hundred. Anybody with experience with either of these?
6. Power Supply - With the Antec cases huge selection of optional case fans and such, I'll be taking advantage of every slot, port, or whatever to make it run better. Water cooling isn't really on my mind right now, maybe it will change... Anyway! How many watts would I need? What make/model?
While this may seem "cutting edge" right now, the entire thing won't be in my hands completed for a year or so. Rather than constantly waiting, I've set the bar to what's current, and start building. I just want to know if it's a wise decision.
1. Quad core is definitely the way to go now, and at $266 the Q6600 is what I would go with, also this CPU should be fairly overclockable.
2.Nvidia is the only way to go right now, but graphics cards advance so fast that next year the most high end card will be midrange at best, buy for now, go for the 8800gtx if you can afford it, the ultra is a major waste of money(it's just an overclocked 8800gtx and if you really wanted to you could just overclock an 8800gtx yourself and save a few hundred $$)
3. Firstly they're very close to getting DX10 on xp so soon there will be no real reason to get Vista(Vista is possibly the worst os Microsoft has ever released, and without DX10 being required I can't see any reason to get it) Go for 2 1GB sticks now, and add 2 more in the future. I would strongly recommend against Vista though.
4. I'm not sure about motherboards here, wait for another user to recommend on that one.
5. Cases are more of a personal preference than anything but I'm a fan of the Antec 900
6. People go WAY overboard with power supplies, get a quality one around 600w at most, and choose a quality brand. Definitely don't cheap out on the PSU though, I can't tell you how many times I've seen a cheap PSU destroy other parts in the system and sometimes even the entire system. I personally am a fan of PC power & cooling, and Fortron PSU's.
I highly doubt it, all I've seen is rumour with nothing to back it up, people are dissing vista because of early teething problems, as long as you're buying new kit then driver support should be fairly good.
Graphics wise, forget ATI, it runs very hot and $/fps wise it's no better than nvidia... as for which nvidia to get, well Crytek are saying Crysis will run almost with max settings (but not all maxed out) on a GTX, there's also rumours abound that the next nvidia high end card release will be in november with 3 times the power of the 8800
personally I would go with a GTS-640 right now with the aim of selling it on in 6 months to get the latest and greatest when it comes out
cooler wise, the tuniq tower 120 or Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme are the best currently
CPU wise, personally I would go for a dual core right now (and overclock to 3ghz+), and buy a quad core in 1-2 years time when games actually are taking advantage of them (and they're much cheaper)
an E2140 can be overclocked to perform better than a standard E6700 so why waste money on something games aren't using yet