New (non-gaming) system- CPU and MB?

New system build question about what motherboard and Intel CPU (and CPU cooler) to get (and before I get flamed, I'm not an Intel fanboy, all of my personal PCs are actually AMD- but this particular system /will/ be Intel-based)

System purpose:
Run Vista (possibly-64 bit to take advantage of >3.5MB RAM) on which I will run virtual machines (not virtual server) for software testing purposes. Testing will include video rendering/encoding under different software configurations.
No gaming
Overclocking not required
Not overly worried about RAID

Components I already have:
Ultra Wizard steel series case (or can use an old tower case with plenty of bays for HDs)
Ultra V Series 500W ATX PSU (will upgrade if needed)
EVGA e-Geforce 7900GS (dual monitor support)
I/O Magic Dual Layer DVD Drive (because it was FAR back when I got it)
2 19" Hanns-G LCD Monitors
Vista (business edition), Office2007 Pro, Technet Plus subscription

Things I need:
Motherboard (preferably with plenty of expansion slots)
reasonably priced RAM (either 4GB or 8GB)
good CPU cooler
Reasonably priced large HDs; one for Host OS, one for guest OS(es), maybe additional drives. I'm thinking 500GB each (or more if there is a good deal on HDs). This will allow me to save and compare test results more easily.

It doesn't look like I would currently get much performance premium for quad core (no 3D rendering or photoshop; virtual machine only uses one physical core), but if the price points are close ($50-75) I would get a quad core just to be prepared in case the virtual machine software is ever upgraded to take advantage of multicore CPUs. Motherboard with built in Firewire and Ethernet would save me a few expansion slots. Built-in sound is fine, I'm not an audiophile and won't be doing any serious audio stuff on this PC. I will need several HDs, probably SATA/SATA2?

I am looking for the sweet spot on the Intel CPU price/performance curve (with the possible exception of paying just a little more for quad core if appropriate)- I don't want to spend extra money for incremental performance improvements. Then I need a good MB to put it on. I was looking at the 6600 dual and quad cores, but I really can't tell if those are the ones I should be comparing for this system.

Also, forgive the (pseudo) off-topic (vendor-related) question- does anyone know why new.egg offers 1-yr warranty on some motherboards, but only 30 days on others (including brand new ones)? Without knowing more, I'm leery of buying a motherboard that only has a 30-day warranty...

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  1. Get the Q6600 Even if is abit much for you, this thing is thinking long term. With this you can do a lot more Multi Tasking and for the ram:

    The Price is good and corsair is a good brand.And it comes with a Lifetime Warranty so don't worry.
    For the CPU cooler I would get the Thermalright Ultima 90 with Scythe S-Flex Fan SFF21F and with the Scythe at 800 RPM that thing is silent. But that is if you really want the extra drop in temp.But as alway the stock cooler is good enough as it is.
    And for the MOBO have no Idea for what you'r needs are.
  2. I'm gonna agree with the above poster, but my question is this: Do you want PCI-X or not? Most mobos have PCI and PCIe, but will PCI-X benefit you?
  3. I've never heard of those cases. But it's up to you. to me airflow is extremely I always nab a top of the line case.

    For HD's there are just all over the place. Just try to nab a Seagate or a WD drive..The new Caviar's have faster read/write then raptors but keep in mind raptors are still superior due to IO performance and such. But yea...You have lots of lee way...just look through newegg and you can find something.

    GET QUADCORE...Most applications for encoding are also multi-threaded. It wouldn't be smart going with a dual core. You can literally cut the time in half with some codecs in encoding. Also if you plan to video edit at all.. all REAL video editing applications are multi-threaded as would be a major performance hit getting a dual core.
  4. You know I'd wait to see if the Amd K10 is good or not before going to buy. But if you need a pc right away, q6600 ftw. And as for your curve thingy, why not use the THG's cpu charts and plot it out? THG kinda did that with using 50% games and 50% applications and lo and behold the best performace/price is an Amd 3800+. We overclockers never need to consider this cause we just, well, overclock the cheapest cpu to bring top performance.
  5. 1) Not sure what Virtual Software you are using, but VMWare definatley uses multiple cores.

    2) Not sure Vista is your best option, at least until very recently, VMWare performance was terrible because Vista will not allow device drivers or 3rd party software kernel access.
  6. original poster here- thanks to all for responses so far- here are my thoughts based on what you've said here;

    *looks like the consensus is the Quad core 6600- sounds fine to me.
    *posts in this forum favor the Gigabyte P35 board, but I haven't been able to tell whether I need the GA-P35 -DS3R, GA-P35C-DS3R, or GA-P35 -DS3P (comparison on newegg didn't really help me understand the differences)
    *I don't have any immediate need for PCI-x
    *I can't afford to wait for new chips or chipsets, I just need to get something now on proven technology, and for testing purposes it needs to be intel (sorry evilonigiri). I actually did take the THG chart and typed it into Excel (THG posts it as a picture so I can't cut/paste), then I went to newegg and started putting in prices. Unfortunately, there were a lot of CPUs that weren't on the THG chart, and of the ones that were, there were huge price ranges that didn't make any sense to me- one chip was $250, the next number was $800... I'm sure it was differences in die size and other factors, but again not enough info on Newegg for me to ensure I was doing an accurate comparison. Overall sounds like the Q6600 is the sweet spot for now.
    *Zenmaster, I was planning on using the MS Virtual Machine product, although I'm open to VMWare; I know the MS product available to me for free, but I looked on the VMWare site and it wasn't clear what I needed or how much it would cost. I actually have a licensed copy of VMWare from a time a few months ago when they were giving it away free, but I never installed it so I don't know if the registration code is still valid. Also I don't know enough about it to know how to set up a PC with it- what is used as the host with VMWare? I want to make sure that I maximize the advantage of the hardware setup, while also making sure that my test environment is stable and replicable. I'm not opposed to linux (I have a ubuntu disk somewhere) but I don't have linux experience, so I'd only lean in that direction if it was easy to set up and get to my virtual machines.

    Thanks for your past (and any future) suggestions- especially any further clarification on the motherboard.
  7. The difference between the 3 boards is minimal.

    If you want DDR3 ram then you need the GA-P35C-DS3R.

    If you want firewire or need 2 PCIe x16 then you need the GA-P35-DS3P.

    if you don't care about those items then pick the best price.
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