SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Video rendering, games, still be able to boot a useful OS in 7 years, folding.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, case, optical drives
PARTS PREFERENCES: core i7, Nvidia graphcs
OVERCLOCKING: Yes I am sure eventually
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: absolutely
OK, I'm really going to date myself here. I know this is gong to be more expensive than it really needs to be, but I don't build systems very often (ahem, about every 7 years) so I build good ones and then squeeze them as long as I can. Ahhh, I still remember the day the parts came in to build "megadesk" 486DXII with the LOCAL BUS! ... what a machine. That would have been..uh..94? 95? somewhere in there. Sometime around 01 or 02 it was time to build "Gigtower"; TUV4X, 1.2G PIII Tualatin, 4XAGP graphics...wow, smokin'. Well, we all know the old story, I go in for parts these last few years and they laugh at me and point at the junk pile. Anyway, I'm getting long winded, last winter I decided it was time to think about, oh I dunno, maybe entering the age of the PCIe bus and SATA drives? So...a Nehalem build it is, I gave myself a year to let the platform mature and to pick out parts...now the time draws near.
CASE: Homebuilt custom 4U RS310C compliant 19" rackmount, I have not started drilling yet, but have some of the aluminum slabs cut out
PSU: not sure, been looking pretty hard, this and cooling are two areas where I plan to go absolutely bananas as they are never really obsolete. I want a single rail, modular, at least 1.2KW with connections to feed 4 next gen PCIe GPUs, and I don't think it exists yet. There ARE some impressive supplies out there and when it comes right down to it I can hack on connectors as the system ages. I think this is one area where now for the first time you can actually "future proof" cause lets face it, when your system needs a dryer plug it is no longer a "personal" computer and these supplies are maxing out a residential circuit. Here are the candidates.
MOBO: Here again, not sure, leaning toward the P6T7 even though those NF200s are junk, kind of hoping some dual socket boards with decent PCIe configurations come out in time, or USB3.0, or PCIe3, alas, a computer is a snapshot in time...been looking at...
ASUS P6T series mobo $350
MSI Eclipse SLI $380
ASUS P6T7 $450
TYAN (S7025) ???
CPU: Nehalem core i7 920 D0...if the 6 core i9s come out in time I will be sorely tempted...must...resist...overpriced bleeding edge parts.
GPU: I know the ATIs are real competitive price wise right now, but the video guys I work with think CUDA is the way to go...and oh man wouldn't I like to plug a Tesla or two into this baby some day WOOHOO! so Nvidia it is. Haven't figured out if the better gaming cards will play well with the Teslas or if that forces a Quadro? Does anyone know?
RAM: I was really hoping they were going to bust the 4G sticks in time, but that appears unlikely, or if they are out you will pay through the nose...sigh
Drives: I can start small here and upgrade over time, I plan on building in a backplane for laptop drives so I can stack up a RAID and some SSDs someday...but the media itself can wait for now, still I will need a couple decent HDDs in the small form factor.
Cooling: pretty sure liquid is on the agenda, I've got some space blocked out for radiators and such but have not selected parts as yet.
OK, this is getting stupid long, thanks for reading my ramblings. I really look forward to any thoughts the forum has!
Well golly folks, thanks for the advice. Actually, I am quite familiar with Moore's law and am aware of the choice I am making. Not that I really feel like I need to defend myself here but just so you understand; I enjoy working with top end parts...and then I enjoy squeezing an old system for all its worth to keep up. I enjoy bottomfeeding elite parts as they first become obsolete (before they become expensive again) to upgrade my old systems. I am somewhat in trepanation's situation...I do not mind paying for quality parts as long as there are not comparable choices that present a better value.
In particular, as I mentioned before, I plan to spend a good deal on PSU and cooling as these components will, I believe, long outlast the other choices. Perhaps I will not go completely crazy with the mobo, clearly the first two votes are in that direction, but I don't want to get stuck with some POS that won't let me harvest cheap Teslas when they start falling off the truck.
I am not certain whether your 4U case will accept the Tyan 7025 board, but if it does, I would seriously consider the Tyan. It retails about the same price as the Asus you are leaning towards. However, for about the same price you get more memory capacity and the option later on (or now) to add another CPU. I assume you will be using something other than XP as your operating system as I believe XP is limited to 4 GB of RAM. Linux will take all you can throw at it, and I believe some versions of Windows 7 will accept lots more RAM than 4 GB.
Further, should you wish to use multiple graphics cards, Tyan inform me that the board will accept multiple 16 lane PCIe cards. (It has four 16 lane PCIe slots). Nice.
Finally, I have had pre-sales support from Tyan and appreciate their help. They appear to have a strong support group.