Budget of about $7000-$7500 total for the computer.
So far I've bought:
3 refurbished 30" NEC 2560 x 1600 monitors, $2200
1 Intel Core i7 980X, $1070
1 Intel X25-M G2 SSD 160GB, $470
1 Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 64mb cache 7200 RPM HDD, $110
1 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM, $130
1 Corsair Obsidian 800D, $300
1 Silverstone Strider ST1500 power supply, $400
1 Panasonic Blu-Ray Burner, $190
That leaves around $2100-$2400 to get motherboard, memory, and graphics cards.
I'm roughly planning $350-400 for the motherboard, $400-$425 for the memory, and $1400-$1600 for the graphics cards.
Memory, I'll probably get either 12 GB Corsair Dominator 1600MHz or 6 GB Corsair Dominator GT 2000 MHz. Guess I'm just a sucker for flashy colored heat sinks.
Graphics cards, I'm thinking either dual Radeon HD 5970's or triple Nvidia Fermi 480GTX's, depending on which performs better and is actually available. Neither one is in stock online at the moment, at least as far as I can tell.
Undecided on motherboard. Some options: Gigabyte GA-X58-UD7, EVGA Classified 3-way SLI, Asus P6T6 WS Revolution, Asus P6T7 Supercomputer, Asus Rampage III Extreme.
I'll probably try to match colors with the motherboard, memory, and graphics cards as much as possible. So a consistent theme to the colors of the computer. Three of these motherboards are blue and black themes, two are red and black themes, all should (I hope) work with the processor and case I've selected.
I plan to eventually water cool the cpu and motherboard chip set with a 3x120 radiator mounted in the top of the case. I probably won't water cool the gpu's, at least for a while, due to lack of space in the case and lack of funds. Maybe in six months or so, but not any time soon.
I wouldn't mind adding in a dedicated sound card and possibly a dedicated network card. I like PhysX and would probably add in a dedicated PhysX card if I went with the Nvidia gpu solution. These extra cards would probably be things that I request from Santa Claus, not something I do for the initial build, because better graphics cards has more appeal to me than these do.
Any advice on motherboard selection would be appreciated. As for gpu selection, I'll wait and see what the Nvidia stuff looks like when it is released tomorrow.
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 $350.
RAM: Both of those are bad choices. You over pay for Corsair sticks, especially for Dominators. Also, special heatsinks are completely unnecessary. You definitely don't need anything over 1600 mhz. Here's the fastest sticks out there: Mushkin Enahnced Redline 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 6. Two sets will cost you $470.
GPU: If you're buying right now, I'd get the 5970s. If you can wait a while (likely several months for availability), I would at least see what the Fermis can do. Of course the 480 isn't available online yet. It hasn't been released.
That is a good latency on the muskin RAM. 12GB of corsair is cheaper though, at $404, even though it's only CAS 8 latency.
I'm waiting until tomorrow to see what the 480GTX's are like, they should be released this weekend. That'll help me determine if it's worth the wait or not. Most likely not, but it might drive down the price of Radeon cards, hopefully.
For some things, low latency is better. For others, the overall speed is better. A nice balance between the two would be OK with me. I'm not too worried about $50. But at the same time, the bulk of my budget is already spent and what I have left has to cover motherboard, memory, graphics cards, cooling, sleeving, sound card, headphones, network card, keyboard, mouse, webcam, and modding.
I do like the idea of CAS 6 @ 1600 MHz, though... sounds like some great memory. On the other hand, 7-8-7-20 @ 2000MHz also sounds pretty sweet too.
Actually, a lower latency is more important than speed. Tom's did an article about it a while ago and found that the best combo was actually 1333 mhz/CL 7, and anything over 1600 mhz didn't do anything. Those Mushkin sticks are literally THE fastest sticks on the market. Any other set will be slower.
The problem with CL 7 at 2000 mhz is that you can never get the sticks to run that fast. Also, they're $430 a set. So basically you could get one set of those or you could get two sets of the Mushkins. So you'd not only have more RAM with the Mushkins, they would actually be faster.
Just a note, and I know it's too late now, but if I had my time again I would have gone with an Asus motherboard. All things being equal I actually like Gigabyte boards better, but I also have Crossfire 5970s (god, imagine the power draw if you'd gone for tri-SLI GTX 480s.....) and on my UD5, only two of the three PCIe lanes are 16x. So what you say. Well this leaves the graphics cards sitting VERY close together with the top card heating up markedly from the radiant hear from the lower card. This was actually becoming critical as the top card's GPU were hitting over 100c. I found a very low-tech, stop gap solution, inserting a piece of folded paper between the cards allowing more air to be drawn into the fan. However, with the Asus Rampage cards, you have 3 x PCIe 16 lanes and you can buy an extended Crossfire strap on eBay that will extend across an extra lane ensuring that both cards stay nice and cool.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding as that the UD7 also has only 2 PCIe 16 lanes, non?
Anyway, I'm happy enough with my system which is quite similar to yours but, given that I live in Australia, I have to start thinking up a more permanent solution than a folded piece of paper before summer rolls back around.