My current rig:
Biostar P965 motherboard
Point of View 8800GTS 320mb
2x 1GB Apogee DDR2 800 ram
500W Omega PSU
Sound Blaster Audigy 4
Windows XP Pro SP3
5 hard drives and a dvd writer
My biggest problem is that I went and bought a 24" monitor with 1920x1200 native resolution, and my graphics card chokes at that res. Granted some games like Crysis I won't be able to run at that res, but 1440x900 still looks good, so I'm aiming for smooth performance for that at least. Right now I can use a mixture of settings in Crysis Warhead but I have to run mostly 'mainstream' settings, and I'd like to run on 'gamer' at 1440x900 (without AA) without dropping below 20fps.
So far I'm keen on upgrading the motherboard and graphics card, especially since the turd biostar board can't overclock the Q6600 and I get freezes in a few games like COD4 even at low settings that must be due to the board as I get the same problem with different components and PSU.
Is the Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R Intel P45 Chipset a worthy, future-proof board upgrade? And is it a better idea to get a 9800GT or a GTX 260 considering that the 9800GT is half the price here, and then waiting for the GTX212 or whatever comes out next year, or just suck it up and stick with the 8800gts 320mb for now? I appreciate any advice, as all the charts on tomshardware are making my head spin.
What sort of freezes are you getting in games? Can you describe it a bit in better detail? I wouldn't go so fast in conclusion blaming the freezes on the motherboard. You might want to read up on the overclocking section of the forums if you want to do a stable overclock, maybe you have already. It might not be the board can't overclock, it might just be bad settings.
There's no future-proof upgrades at this point in time, since the new Core i7 uses a completely new socket. 9800GT is a good place to start but at 1920 x 1200, I'd go for a HD4870 or GTX280 (was about to mention 4850 XF but realized your motherboard don't support it and your PSU won't handle it).
I can play Crysis @ 1920 x 1200 and medium setting with my 1900XT 512MB which is probably about 20% slower than the 8800GTS 320MB. They only time that I have severe stuttering issues is during the final battle.
I mostly play a stealth game though. I don't rush into battle with guns blazing so that's probably why I don't don't get any noticeable low frame rates until the final battle.
If you really feel the urge to upgrade then upgrade the video card and probably the PSU too. I never heard of Omega. I recommend the following brands in order of my preference:
2. PC Power & Cooling
The freezes are most noticeable in COD4 and BF2142. I'll be running along at really high framerates and then everything will freeze for 1 second and my soundcard will buzz and then it carries on as if nothing happened. I've changed PSU, CPU, hard drives, and sound cards, so that leaves ram or motherboard unchanged, but if the ram was dying it should crash completely right? I've also reinstalled XP a few times and tried numerous drivers as well as onboard sound to no avail.
Thanks for the heads up about the Core i7, I've been burnt with the AMD64->X2 and now the PCI Express 1.0 -> 2.0 incompatibilities, so I'm loath to upgrade if I get stuck on an upgrade path that is a dead end again. After a bit of googling it seems like Nehalem is going to be insanely expensive until at least 2010? And won't it only benefit gaming if games actually take advantage of quad core? And in that case won't the Q6600 be good enough?
My main reason for upgrading is that Far Cry 2 looks like it needs 512mb vram, so my 8800gts is whimpering quietly in the corner. And unless I go for an old 8800GT I have to upgrade my mboard to accommodate the new gfx cards. Biggest issue is that I'm in South Africa and the prices are insane:
9800GT 512mb: R2000
GTX 260: R4000 (192 core version only)
GTX 280: R6000
So spending R2200 on something that's a minor upgrade on my current card is probably just as insane as coughing up R4000 for a GTX 260.
Check out Buy.com they have a Corsair TX 750W ATX 12V Power Supply that $83 buck after rebate. I just orderd one as I am getting ready to build my new rig and need a PS that can have a little head room for future upgreads...