1. I've generally went Sapphire when buying ATI graphics cards. Is there any real difference with ASUS?
2. Is 850W enough for the PSU?
3. I'm really leaning towards the i7 920, because I've used one before. However, from what some people have said it seems like the i7 860 rivals it. Is there any real difference, or is one of them better for overclocking/future-proofing?
HD - The WD Black 2 TB model is a 500 GB per platter drive, but unless things have changed, the 1 TB is the older 330 Gb per platter model. Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. At smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3 for 500 GB per platter drives. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):
I don't think you or the average buyer gets it. i7 920 is the best cpu, yes, no contest, but you HAVE a budget constraint. If it's spare no expense, yep, 920 it is. Most games still don't make use of quads. i5 750 is still overkill for most games, but it's changing a bit in the dev. scene. Right now a handful of games make full use of quads. The rest will run on one or two cores at the same time.
I don't blindly recommend parts. I always get to know the usage & budget and recommend parts accordingly so that the buyer gets the most out of their investment RIGHT AWAY. Not "I'll throw in another HD 5770 for CF lol" later. The reason is I'm not the average buyer. I upgrade every 6-12 months. So part selection won't matter as much to me as the average user who won't upgrade until end of life of the pc or a few years later.
And the time I recommend i7 920 is a) spare no expense and b) budget allows & usage (video encoding) requires it.
Depending on how you value your time, what you have to do at upgrade time and what you ahve to spend should be considered. While I agree that most people perform few upgrades to their PC's over its lifeime, the audience here at THG certainly fits into another category. I try and time my builds such that 2 years down the road, I can do a CPU and GFX upgrade to squeeze some extra life outta them. I would venture to say that most here do upgrades during their PC's lifetime.
Things I consider right now are:
a) Future CPU upgrades likely (hexacore in your future) ?
b) Will you benefit from triple channel memory (not likely w/o a above)
c) Support for hi end RAID controllers and PCI-E based SSD's important ?
d) Are you using a hi bandwidth vid card solution and will you add a 2nd ?
If you have to toss out your MoBo, deal w/ possible memory issues, choosing an upgradable solution is worth considering up front. This is akin to spending the premium between a 650 watt and 850 watt PSU if you are considering adding a 2nd GFX card later on.
However, with regard to the last item, the release of MoBos like the ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer with the NF200's ability for 4 x16 PCI-E lanes certainly make p55ibexpeak's argument stronger.....there's a price premium for it but it's still cheaper than most hi end X58 boards.