This will be my first build. The purpose of this machine is to test a commercial software product which interfaces with MATLAB (www.mathworks.com). We have an automated testing procedure which takes about 12 hours total (2 hours compiling + 10 hours running many tests with many different versions of MATLAB). I believe the primary perfomance bottleneck to be CPU speed. This machine will initially run WinXP pro (32-bit). Will probably upgrade it to a 64-bit OS in the future. There are multiple threads at various points in the testing process.
The configuration I am currently planning to build is as follows:
2 AeroCool AEROFANS-X X-Blaster 80mm Case Fan [$14]
1 Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound [$18]
1 OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) OCZ3P1333LV6GK [$68]
1 iStarUSA D-407PL Black Steel 4U Rackmount Compact Stylish Server Case [$90]
1 ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard [$280]
1 EVGA 256-P2-N753-TR GeForce 8600 GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 [$50]
1 CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified [$120]
1 Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 [$280]
2 Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive [$140]
1 LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model GH22LS30 [$26]
1 Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3 for System Builders [$118]
Total is $1203
Some additional notes: I know that only 3.2GB of the memory will be accessible from WinXP. The person familiar with the testing process claims the extra .2 GB make a small but noticiable difference in time (maybe 5%). I may try using ramdisk-9 to turn the unused memory into a ramdisk. We plan to use the 2 hard disks in a RAID 1 configuration.
Besides the obvious "Am I doing anything really stupid?", one question I have is whether an aftermarket CPU cooler would be worthwhile. If I can overclock the CPU without affecting stability, I would be willing to try it. But stability has to come first.