I've never asked for advice like this as I usually get near top of the line items, but that doesn't work for me anymore when you can spend $1,200 on a CPU these days. Anyway, I was wondering what your advice was for a brand new system. Money isn't really an object, but I'd like good value.
For instance, if a $300 GPU is 90% as powerful as the $600 card, I'll take the $300 option. I wouldn't mind spending something in the $1000 range on core components (not peripherals, PSUs, cases, monitors, software, sound card, optical drives etc. - I have all that already).
From what I've read, I'm leaning toward an Intel CPU for the first time in ages. Those Core 2 Duos seem to be a good mix of performance and cost. Also, I was thinking of getting a graphics card in a decent price range and getting a second one at a later date if it starts to struggle.
As for use, it is really playing the odd game. I've had a Koolance case for ages and I'd like to keep using it. I've seen Asus' new mobos that have the integrated water block for the northbridge. If there are any other devices out there like that, I'd be interested in knowing.
Basically, what CPU, Mobo, RAM, GPU combo (plus new HDD) should I go for to play Oblivion at the highest quality levels without it bloody stuttering.
I would probably be looking at an Intel Core2Duo E6750 and a Gigabyte P35 motherboard. Given how cheap RAM is these days, I see no reason not to go with 4 Gig (2x2048) even if you have a 32-bit OS. For a graphics card, go with either the 8800GT or the HD3870. For a hard drive: SATA 3.0 with 16MB cache. Size is up to you.