~$1500 Gaming Rig Help and Questitions

BUDGET RANGE: around $1500

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, audio/video encoding, photo/video editing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard (have a Logitech G15), mouse, monitor (have a Hanns G 22" widescreen LCD @ 1800x1050 I think, computer is dead so I can't double check, might be only 1680x1050)


OVERCLOCKING: Probably, not an enthusiast in this department though
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, if it's a better price/performance option than a single GPU

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm mostly wary after reading about problems people have getting all of their components to fit together, like making sure large video cards (either due to width or length) such as 2x Radeon HDs in xfire don't clip the SATA/power connectors on the mobo or running into hard drive cages on the case, or not fitting with certain types of case power supply positions, aftermarket CPU coolers covering RAM slots, etc. I'm interested in specifically running 2x Radeon HD 4800s in xfire, but am open to using a single higher end GPU of either brand (ATI or nVidia) or any better video card setups people can suggest. I'd like input on mobo/vid card(s)/case/cpu cooler combos that are known to work together without requiring me to bend, cut or squeeze anything in during installation, as well as being parts that are reliable and don't run overly hot. I'm willing to pay top dollar to not have to worry about installation and heat issues that can't be taken care of by a good case with stock fans and an aftermarket cpu cooler.

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail $284.99
Seems like my most set on component, no real questions here

Video: X2 SAPPHIRE 100279-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $159.99 (total $319.98)
These sound like huge cards and I'm particularly anxious to find a mobo and case where I won't run into space problems, also I'm wondering if there are single GPUs in this price range that'd be better for my wants. DX11 compatibility would be nice but not a huge concern, and I'd really like a card that doesn't run hot as the sun, hopefully not pushing 65c under load

Mobo: EVGA E758-A1 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $284.99 (before $20 mail in rebate)
There don't seem like many options for LGA 1366 chipset mobos, this one in particular I'm worried about comments that aftermarket coolers sometimes cover the ram slot closest to the CPU

CPU Cooler: Can't find anything for LGA 1366 that looks good, looking for recommendations, with emphasis on space concerns mentioned already.

Case: The 3 year old computer I'm replacing is in an Antec 9000 case which I liked, but I'm thinking of trying something new, and hopefully something capable of removing most of my internal real estate issues mentioned above. Size isn't a concern, currently looking at a full ATX tower like

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $139.99

but would love more suggestions. So many to choose from I get overwhelmed easily!

Memory: CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1333C9 - Retail $139.99 (before $20 mail in rebate)
Not looking to overclock memory, latency and voltages and what not confuse the hell out of me, simply want 6-8GB of DDR3 memory that's stable and fast out of the box, recommend something better!

Power supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $139.99 (before $30 mail in rebate)
only concern here is reliability

Hard drive(s): x2 Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive $79.99 (total $159.98)
Newegg is currently out of the 1TB Caviar, also should I think of getting a smaller more reliable drive for my OS and use these for storage?

Total (sans CPU fan): $1474.90, 1404.90 after mail in rebates

One last concern is operating system. I haven't switched to Vista yet from XP SP3, I was thinking of getting Vista Pro with a Win 7 upgrade coupon, is this my best route?

I love all the help and support on these forums, it makes the daunting task of building a new rig a little more manageable, especially for people like me who haven't looked over build parts in 3+ years. Thanks in advance for any help and comments!
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More about 1500 gaming questitions
  1. I would get 1600 MHz RAM with a latency of 7 (for RAM you want higher frequencies, but more importantly lower latencies for better performance). For a GPU I would definitely get a HD 5850. Check out the Scythe Mugen-2 for a HSF. You will be fine with a lower power PSU - 650-750W is more than enough. The Spinpoint F3 500GB/1Tb drives are much faster. Finally, I would wait for 7 to be released if you can (10/22/09) or just get Vista with the upgrade coupon.
  2. If you get that EVGA board, you won't be able to do Crossfire. EVGA is all about nVidia. If you're gonna put an ATI card in there, then get a different motherboard that can do both SLI and Crossfire. 3-way SLI kinda sucks. The ideal purpose of that board is to have 2 cards in SLI and one older model card like a 9500 GT or 9600 GT for dedicated PhysX. I also heard a rumor that EVGA boards only play nice with EVGA video cards, but that's just a rumor.
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