This setup is currently running on Vista Business 32bit. It was a free upgrade from a friend so I went with it. My question is this: if I'm primarily going to be gaming and a little cpu overclocking (to 3.0 at the max), as well as school related processes, what is the right OS for me?
Secondly, since this is a new build, I still have a lot of old files on an old 80 GB WD HDD. Along with the files, Windows XP is on there too. If I stick this into my current rig, will it affect it with the 2 OS's on there? Also, if it doesn't, can I just copy everything but my partition for XP over? Thanks all!
I would upgrade to a 64-bit OS. Overclocking really has no bearing on the OS so don't worry about that. If I were you I would look into a 64-bit version of Vista. Home Premium looks nice. Buy that and then request the 64-bit version from Microsoft. It'll cost you shipping, but then you'll be set.
Alternatively you could go with Windows XP x64 Edition which is what I use. It is XP which has been built on Windows Server 2003 so it is rock solid. Still with 4GB of memory Vista would run nicely on your computer. Up to you. Vista has DirectX10 which is nice for the games that use it. The actual difference between DX10 and DX9 is another debate entirely.
The only reason I am suggesting a 64-bit OS is because of your 4GB of memory. 32-bit OS's cannot use all 4GB. So your extra memory is going to waste. No sense in wasting something you paid good money for right?
I don't think you would run into any trouble plugging that other hard drive in. Give it a shot. I can't see how any damage could occur. Just plug it in, boot to your new OS, take the files you want, and format. I have done this in the past with no repercussions. If anyone has any better suggestions or criticisms I am sure they will speak up.
There's no right or wrong. I think you meant to ask does the os do what I need? It does. You can see up to 3.5GB in 32-bit os. Is getting the remaining 500MB worth the hundreds of dollars in OS upgrade? Only you can determine that. Don't forget you'd be upgrading from Vista to Vista. More like side-grade.
Careful now. When you stick the old harddisk in, you must check the harddisk order in bios. If the old disk is seen as C: or 1st drive, then your Vista won't boot. Most new mobos let you rearrange the harddisk order, in addition to boot order. Don't confuse the 2.