So first, a little background. I've built two systems previously; one in 1999 (with a minor upgrade in 2002), and one in 2005. In both cases, the systems were built with gaming in mind as well as general purpose computer usage (internet/school/work/etc). Generally, after being built, I left them alone to get me through the years and haven't really looked closely or planned on upgrading the parts over time. With that in mind, this build is intended to last between 3-5 years without significant changes.
System usage on this build boils down to the following, in general order of importance:
1. Adobe Photoshop (CS3) -- in the past year I've gotten into photography as a hobby and have been teaching myself on a Digital SLR. However, digitally processing the RAW files out of the camera on my current machine (4+ years old now) is becoming incredibly time consuming and I have increasingly found myself putting off the grind of going through the mounds of shots to pick out the best and process them because of the time involved in working with such large files on the old system.
2. Moderate Gaming -- I'm an EVE-Online player, and I tend to run two accounts simultaneously on separate monitors, but need to keep the settings at the lowest level in order to keep a stable frame rate. I'd like to change that, as well as have a build capable of playing the occasional upcoming game (Dragon Age-Origins is what's on my PC gaming radar). One of the caveats coming out of this usage is that EVE-Online apparently does not play nice with Crossfire/SLI when running two clients at once and only uses one card, so for now I'm looking for a single GPU solution.
3. General purpose business/personal usage -- My wife is in marketing, and she is regularly using all the programs in the Adobe CS3 suite for various materials and work jobs. In addition, the computer will be used for general internet usage.
I've never overclocked, and don't have any particular urge to for this build, but are open to possibilities.
My plan is to have all the parts purchased and in my hands for the last week of the month, which I have off from work. Budget range is around $1500 ($CAD). Preferred website is NCIX.com, but anything located in Canada works.
The preliminary build which I'd love advice on (compatibility issues/appropriate parts/etc) is as follows:
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM 32MB Dual Proc 3.5IN SATA Hard Drive OEM 5YR Mfg Warranty http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=34286
Existing 120GB SATA drive from current computer (forget the model)
Existing 70GB IDE drive from current computer (maybe -- might get rid of if)
Monitor: Use current 24" LG W2442PA-BF (1920x1080) and 17" Samsung 172x (1280x1024) dual set-up
Case: Use current -- Antec P160 (?)
Optical: Use current DVD-ROM(16x) and CD-ROM(52x)
Keyboard/Mouse: Use current
O/S: Windows 7 RC, replacing with full version in the fall
Total on these parts comes to $1,415 at the moment.
Looks very solid, i7 is definately the right choice. Looks like you've done you're reading. The only thing I would caution is that you make sure the heatsink will fit over the RAM. The extra tall DDR3 ram usually will not as the heatsink covers the first two RAM slots.
Thanks for the head's up! That's exactly the kind of advice I was hoping for, as it's not something I'd be aware of. Sounds like I'd be better off getting the heatsink locally then, so that I can easily return it if it doesn't fit.