I am a professional photographer and graphic designer. I'm planning on returning to Mac once the new desktops come out, but my 5-year-old homebuilt AMD XP 2200+ system needs to be replaced before then.
I'd like to build a new PC tower for around $1000 that may not be state-of-the-art, but is future-proof enough to still be a good secondary system 3 years from now. I mostly multitask and work in Adobe CS3, but if I use 3D apps like Maya or video games like COD4, I'd like the system to have sufficient processing and graphics horsepower.
I'd appreciate any advice you'd have on improving the following list of components without significantly raising the cost. Also, if you notice anything I might have missed (incompatibilities? thermal paste? etc.), please let me know. Thanks for your input.
I built a very similar machine in the last couple of weeks (with a cheaper video card and a Gigabyte P35 mobo instead). I posted my experience on another thread.
I'd really advice you to replace the Arctic Cooling Freezer with the Xigmatek S1283. I used the latter with the Q6600 and have idle temps of 35 - 37 C and 4*100% Prime load temps of 48 C in the NJ summer. I couldn't be happier with it. It has an 120 mm fan that's somewhat quiet.
My friend bought the Arctic Cooling Freezer for an AMD Double-core machine -- far less heat output (65 W vs 95 W for the Q6600). He is very good with building, has built several machines and still, his temperatures are far far worse than mine -- at least 5 C higher usually.
And that 92 mm fan is loud.
Finally, I think both cost the same now -- the Xigmatek is only $26 after rebate (though you really must buy the retention bracket for $6 extra).
I also have the identical PSU and quite happy with it.. it comes with cables sleeved already and helps keep the case organized and airy.
I'd also recommend the non-conductive Arctic Silver MX-2 paste - worked well for me, no worrying about the smallest spill of silver.
The components look very good. We have been producing professional clinical photography since the the late 1970's, if you go back to the University years. For the past twenty-two years we have done it for money...the preverbial 'side job' In recent years we have moved entirely to digital reproduction of our clinical photography aspects. In the past we used two identical Nikkon cameras complete with micro close-up lens with bellows set up to photograph clinical quality craniofacial pictures. Like looking at the the true color or small chip of a tooth. Or an absess or potential cancerous growth. Anyway, a few things you might consider. Add an additional hard drive for storage as well as a guard against important data loss. Acronis True Image and a USB HD allow for a one button clone copy of your hard drives. Also recommend Vista OS. The Aero interface allows your screen to display the photographs you are working on in more 'colorful' or enhanced application if you will. We prefer Vista 64 with Aero fully functional when we are working. If you can manage Vista 64, 4 to 8 GBs RAM really goes to work for you in Photoshop. Poking around close up photos with 4 to 8 GBs of RAM is a refreshing upgrade from the bland feeling of 2 gigs and XP. A Lightscribe DVD burner makes professional quality disks easy. And a high quality color printer make your work appear that much better. We use a old Canon i860 currently to print out photos in addition to what we send out on CD.
The system you have specked out will work great with your professional photography needs. Moving to a Q6600 from an AMD Athlon will be like night and day. We have many computers from Athlons like yours we rarely use at work anymore, to the Q9450/Q6600 to the E8400 setups with Vista 64. Our main rig we use for the photography reproduction currently is Vista 64 with an e8400 with 4 gigs of PC26400 on a 35G MB and an 8600Gt. It's tough. As far as gaming, My son uses a Q6600 and 8800GTS 640 to game with. No complaints. The Quad you have speced out should do you well now and into the forseeable future.