Heaps of questions on just about every part of a new build

OK so I'm doing a build for a friend of mine, and I've got a budget of about $3500 New Zealand $'s. That includes Screen, keyboard, Tower. The works. It will be mostly used for gaming but since he's off to a engineering degree at uni next year hes expecting to do quite a bit of CAD work on it as well as having it as a bit of a storage hub as he has a near fetish with storing movies etc. Now I've got quite a few questions and hopefully since I've been trawling this site for a few days now and i still cant make up my mind i might get some help please.

Firstly I've decided on a screen, its a Dell E248WFP 24" LCD monitor with a resolution of 1920x1200. Now with that in mind and the fact that that crosses the line of easily playable resolution I'm leaning towards two Radeon 4850's in Crossfire. Now I've always been a bit of a Nvidia fan myself and would like to put some 9800GTX+ 's in there. So here's the first question. Since the two 4850's will cost about NZ$120 less (about US$60) should i go for them? now you might think since they are more powerful it will instantly mean an ATi win but consider this. CUDA/ Physx is available on the Nvidia cards. Too many people don't consider that implication. If CUDA takes off then the 9800's will be the MUCH better course. (also he doesn't want to have to any major upgrades for about 3 years). So once again here's the question. Will the cheaper cards with more gaming power be better now or should i get the 9800's with the prospect that CUDA could take off and give much more to do with the GPU's then just gaming. I suppose i could consider other cards such as a single GTX280 but thats a bit out of the price range and in most comparisons the 4850's win anyway.

If your wondering what CPU I'm planning to use i also haven't decided on that. But i have managed to slim it to two possibilities. Either a Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (NZ$500) or a Q9550($570). I'm not looking at any huge OC's here but i think a 3.5Ghz will be where I'm reaching for. Cooling wise I'm going to be using a Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme, with fan. So here's my second question. With the 3.5Ghz aim in mind is it worth spending the extra money on the 9550 with its higher multiplier? or is it going to be easy enough to OC with the 9450. Also note I'm looking for 24/7 rock solid stability here. So should i spend the NZ$70 on another component and save some money here or should i go for the 9550 and see if i can go higher then 3.5?

In terms of HDD space I've gone for a Samsung SPINPOINT F1 1TB (NZ$211) storage HDD and a Western Digital 150GB VelociRaptor System HDD(NZ$281). Here I'm wondering if the Raptor is really worth the cost? What benefits is it really going to give in the grand scheme of things. Since knowing my friend i know this thing will never be turned off i don't think boot times are a worry, is the few seconds off load times going to matter. Or does the raptor actually increase FPS in game? and is it worth the huge cost?

I'm leaning towards the Corsair 750W TX Series because of the fact I've never had a problem with the many corsair products I've had over the years and the fact its got 60A on the single 12v rail. Something most 1000w PSU can barely even think of. In terms of case its still up in the air but probably an Antec 1200 but that's a but bulky for my liking (heck my own 900 is a pain in the ass to cart to LAN's, even if they are in my own damn shed) but thats not really the biggest issue right now.

So here's the summary: Basically im wondering if its worth spending a bit more money on the 9800GTX+'s and getting CUDA over two 4850's in CF which are cheaper and give more performance. Weather its worth the extra cost of a Q9550 over a Q9450. Weather the VelociRaptor is actually worth it. And lastly with all that in mind what would be a good Motherboard (btw I'm looking at DDR2 RAM).

Any help would be much appreciated as this forum has never failed me before and if you need some help with New Zealand and electronic prices try http://www.pricespy.co.nz/ . Helps find prices at a quick glance. And before i forget there's also a Logitech G15 thrown into the build because he likes it and wants something to match his G5.
Sorry about any spelling mistakes i never was very good at delicious England. Merrychristmas.
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  1. It's a bit of a toss up and there is no easy answer.

    Another question you have to ask is, which drivers will play better with CAD? ATI or NVidia?

    In terms of stability, the Intel chipsets are far superior, so that makes crossfire the better choice.

    Seems like the 9550 is the better choice at that price.

    I'm guessing you will want to go 4850s and find an x38 chipset MB.
    RAM should be DDR2 800Mhz, 1.8V.
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