Your motherboard supports 1333 RAM or at least 1066 - 4 gigs is around 60 usd
I like the OCZ reaper Series
GPU system could be upgraded, P5k series Supports Sli
Could always upgrade to a i7 or core 2 extreme
As far as HDisks you don't need to spend 600 on a stripped raid system
The caviar 750 works well, I read of people downgrading and haven't missed the dual raptors. http://techreport.com/articles.x/15363
You could upgrade your processor, but it is not worth the cost to do so compared to performance increase in games. Besides, if you ask me, the E8x00 series is the perfect processor for gaming. When games become more multi-core optimized, upgrade your CPU/mobo. If you want to see the best gaming performance increase then upgrade your GPU (get a strong single card so you are future proof by keeping the option open to buy a second card when you need it), the rest of your system is perfectly fine for gaming.
Raptors are nice, but they will only help your game load times, not actual in-game performance.
What else would need upgrading for the pc games of the future.
Games of the future should utilize quad core processors. Unless you are running games at super high resolutions the card you have now will still play games just fine (unless you are one of those guys that needs ultra high settings on everything). If you want a better video card for the future, wait for the games to arrive and make a choice then. The cards out there right now will be cheaper by then and something Much better (at a similar price point) will be available as well.
All in all you have a solid system though I am not sure how you get by with 320gb. My music, video, various programs, and games take up more than that. I don't think that now is the best time for an upgrade. The I7 processor is new and there is a price premium to pay for it; give it a few months and more processors are on the way. If you want better game performance now, get a ATI4870 or Nvidia 285 or whatever you want. There are quite a few cards at a decent price that are better than what you have now.
It doesn't seem to matter right now but a motherboard with PCIE 2.0 may be a good idea as well. Increase PCIE bandwidth could never hurt; P45 chipset may be in order. Though if you are looking to the future, you may need a different socket for a new CPU, so why not wait till then?
Your choice bud, you have a decent system now and if I were in your situation I would probably wait a bit and I would definitely be getting a fat hard drive to store more crap on.
1. For gaming you can always spend more on a new GPU.
2. You didn't say, so I'm guessing that you are running a stock CPU cooler and running the CPU st stock speeds. I would get a new cooler and overclock that CPU. You can probably gain at least 20% more speed from it.
3. If you have anything of value on that hard drive, buy a backup drive for it.
I think a new hard drive is what I shall buy.My Maxtor seems to struggle and take a long while to load programs.I forgot to mention im using XP Pro as my operating system.Is there any advantage of upgrading to Vista at the present time.I know it recognises more ram.
But for example, would it run better with 3 gig on xp Pro or 4 gig on Vista?
Vista will not be a performance upgrade for games unless you are getting a top end video card. The difference I noticed personally between Vista and XP and using an 8800gt wasn't good at all. Vista performed slower across the board. This was with SP1 and all performance tweaks in place. Nothing was unplayable but Vista was aprox 10-20 fps slower in different games.
According to this chart there is not too much difference between mine and the 4850?
The 4850 is a tad faster and doesn't give enough of an improvement (in my opinion) to warrant buying it. We are talking about a slight improvement for around $145 or so, which is wasted money.
I've heard some here mention that your motherboard is capable of crossfire. Is it? There are lower end PK5's that do not have 2 PCIE slots. If you have a crossfire capable board then a 4870 is a decent upgrade for your video card, IF you consider that you can add another one in Crossfire configuration later on. Following the history of graphics cards you will notice that newer cards come out that give better performance than 2 cards in Crossfire or SLI. That ONE card will probably cost less than the proposed 2x4870's if you were to buy them. The 4850 is a cheap upgrade path if you don't mind spending the money on 2 of them for Crossfire as well. We run into the same dilemma though; perhaps for just a tiny bit more cash (in a couple months or so) you can have a better performing card.
So the question of the day is, are you having problems in games Now? If you really want an upgrade because of performance then by all means, get a 4850(or better) or Nvidia 200 series.
Or you may just want to wait until you hit a bump in graphics performance and upgrade then. Me personally, I do not have a problem turning off AA and turning down the detail settings a tad. I game at 1680x1050 and haven't found that to be a limiting factor for me yet, but I am not one of those guys that needs max settings and I can wait until new deals come out.
The best thing to do there by far would be to upgrade your ram - it would be reasonably cheap to upgrade to 4 or even 8GB, and the benifits would be HUGE! Everything else seems fine, although if it were me i would also be adding another couple TB of storage
The card won't be more or less compatible. The 4850 will be faster than the 8800gt, and will give you the option of running crossfire if you chose to add a second card. If you stick with the 8800gt, you won't have that option. 3Gb of RAM would be fine in xp. However I usually like to buy them in a kit (2x1, 2x2...) for compatibility/stability reasons. That's why I suggested adding 2G instead of just 1G.