I plan on overclocking the CPU slightly, perhaps to 3.2-3.6GHz. In addition, I'll buy another GTX 295 eventually (after they significantly decrease in price). Anyways, at this point, I'm uncertain whether or not to go with liquid cooling or stick with air. Beside facilitating potentially increased overclocking possibilities, the decrease in noise and dust is very compelling as well. Note that I have absolutely no experience with water cooling systems, but I'd diligently perform the necessary research and willingly spend the extra money if justified.
You don't mention your gaming resolution. If it's 1920, then . . .
The 295 is a extreme waste of money at an inappropriate time. The next gen vid cards are coming shortly, a 275 or 285 will handle it all very nicely for quite some time anyways, and then . . .
You could use roughly the same money to buy a pair of OCZ Vertex SSDs instead of the Velociraptor.
The net result would provide significant improvements to all of the things that affect all kinds of games, MMOs and FPS. Not to mention fast boot-ups lol.
The Rampage II Extreme is a board that reportedly takes quite some skill to handle well. You can probably grab another $100 towards those SSDs by backing up a step and achieve the same OC results.
Obviously I am saying there's nothing wrong with your build. Just trying to say you can achieve more for the same money (if that's important) by redistributing your investment.
Thanks for the feedback!
I use a Dell 2408wfp @ 1920x1200, and I hope to obtain another soon for a dual monitor setup. I've considered waiting for the next-gen cards as well, yet waiting is difficult - however, getting a 275 to hold me over seems like a reasonable solution.
The only place I "disagree" with Tom's list is that I personally will not rely on SLI/Xfire for an intial build, even if its price/performance is (supposedly) better than a single card. SLI/Xfire does not scale well in all FPS games, and in MMOs it can result in a reduction in frame rate. For me its a defensive upgrade option.
I share that "better luck with nVidia", so I know where you're coming from. But, those experiences are not shared by all. To be fair, I had to share the raw performance comparisons.
As for water cooling, that's a tough topic for me lol. To me, the biggest problem with cooling is *disposing* of the heat. Not having it trapped under my desk, blowing up in my face, etc. I tried to design a water cooling system to deal with that - using a "remote" radiator and long tubes to route the heat elsewhere - until I realized I couldn't move the PC very well lol. And other issues.
I use only mild OCs (2.67/3.0 QXs OC'd to 3.2/3.6) and air cooling suffices. Gaming at 1920 - and all else - is fine for me. Sealed liquid coolers don't (yet) cool cpus as well as the best air, though they have some benefits. Regular water cooling has its place, for sure, but I don't need a new hobby enough to take it up. YMMV.