Well with it being new year, and the newer Adobe apps crippling my system, I've decided it's definitely time for an upgrade. I posted here a while ago with a similar problem, and got some great help, but there's been a few things that have since made me unsure about what I need.
Basically, I've decided to settle on getting an Intel Q9550 as it seems to offer a very decent price/performance option. But I'm still struggling with which motherboard, RAM and graphics card to get. I've also recently gotten hold of a slightly old, but very nice, Sony 24" CRT - should that make any difference.
I use my machine for a lot of 2D design (the usual adobe programs, along with a few others), some 3D work, as well as music/film/internet... but no games at all. So I'm not really interested in overclocking or anything like that, but I do want as much stability and reliability as possible. I'm not saying 'money no object', but I don't mind spending a little more if it can assure that extra bit of confidence.
I realise this is all a bit vague, but any help at all would be greatly appreciated - even if it's just which brands to steer clear of etc.
The HD 4670 is not really a gaming card, but it's still very powerful for the price.
The GA-EP45-UD3P is very reliable. There's a cheaper GA-EP45-UD3R too, but I like the UD3P because you can put two video cards in it and feed 3 or even 4 monitors. Very useful for a working machine, what with LCDs getting cheaper every month.
4GB of RAM may be enough, but 8GB would be better if you have a 64-bit Windows and you use very large files in your Adobe apps.
Thanks for the reply. I've checked out your recommendations and they actually look great to me - lots of people giving the MoBo and RAM thumbs up. It seems the EP45-UD3P is a little rare here in the UK, but I've found a couple of suppliers.
The only thing I'm not sure about now is the graphics card. There doesn't seem anything particularly wrong with the HD 4670, but I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to run two in Crossfire mode or not, or maybe upgrade to a slightly higher model. As I said, I'm not a gamer - this would be for design, 3D and video rendering and as entertainment. I did read that the card you mentioned has better video playback than some similar spec'd cards, but would it be enough to comfortably crunch through a few video layers with fx applied?
I don't want to spend more than necessary, but I can stretch to a bit higher than the card you suggested - but if it's a waste of silicon, then fair enough.
I would recommend dropping the Q9550 for the Q6600 and OC it to 3ghz. I know you said you don't want to OC but with the P45 recommended above there are pretty basic presets in BIOS that will do the OC for you. It would also save $140 which could be applied to upgrade the video card or used to upgrade something else like the power supply or just put back in your pocket.
Crossfire will only benefit games, because those are the only applications written to support it. I really don't think it would help you. Also, a HD 4850 will beat two HD 4670 cards in games and it's cheaper too (118 pounds HD 4850 vs 2*65 pounds for HD 4670 Crossfire, ebuyer prices). There's also the HD 4830, somewhere in between the HD 4670 and the HD 4850, if you want a bit more graphics power.
BTW, video rendering is normally a CPU-intensive thing, not so much GPU work. What would really help there is a good quad CPU, maybe overclocked a bit.
I take your point about the Crossfire and lack of GPU needs - I guess just a decent card will do me fine.
As for the overclocking of the Q6600, it had crossed my mind to do something like that, but from lloking at the specs, the Q9550 has 12MB cache, compared to the Q6600's 8MB - and if my needs are for a decent CPU, would it not be more advantageous to have the 12MB?