I'm starting a new build and its been a very long time since my last (I had an AMD XP +1800) so i'm having to relearn some of the newer tech.
I have an e8400 paired with 4GB DDR2 800 RAM (from what i've read with a 1333 FSB either 667 or 800 is the most efficient pairing. Anything faster only provides very minimal performance boost.)
I'll be getting a Geforce 8800gt and I'm trying to decide on a chipset. X38 seems like a waste given my specs and only 1 GPU. I don't really plan on overclocking but do want stability and good performance for gaming as well as somewhat fast rendering times.
So will I see a large performance boost with a P45 compared with the older chipsets or am I wasting my money?
Regarding ram selection, it depends on whether the ram is overclocked or not. At stock, what you heard is correct.
The chipset selection depends on the cpu. i.e. P35 supports 65nm out-of-the-box. It can support 45nm after a bios update if available. The manufacturer will drop support if they see fit. Obviously, a newer chipset will be supported longer than the older one. P45 supports 45nm out of the box so you won't have to flash the bios.
No there won't be large performance boost. In fact, P45 ICH10R (RAID) is slower than P35 ICH9R in some reviews. Across the board, the chipsets may perform a bit different on benchmarks.
Go with P45 in your case. i.e. GA-EP45-DS3L (no RAID).
Would you recommend the the DS3L over the Asus P5Q? I was looking at one of the cheaper models.
DS3L has less options, like RAID. But if you don't need those, it's cheaper and perform just as well as more expensive p45 boards. The GA-P35-DS3L was considered a legend by overclockers back in its days. There was a stickied thread in Overclocking board at one time dedicated for that board. GA-P45-DS3L is the updated version, with the same reference board, but p45 replacing p35. It's a proven formula, and cheap too.