Need Advice For Gaming PC With Special Consideration

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: No rush. Before August 2010
BUDGET RANGE: Um... mostly whatever? Cheaper is better, but the money is available to spend.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Internet, Etc. Work stays on my work computer.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: All. I've had bad experiences reusing parts from old rigs.
PARTS PREFERENCES: As much Intel as possible.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've built a huge computer before, and it wasn't fun. I'd like to have a mid-sized (and weight) rig this time around. I'm also totally in the dark about water cooling, so I'm not sure if I want to go with air or water.

So here's the deal. I've seen almost everyone recommend sticking with i7-920 over the i7-975/980x because you get a lot more bang for your buck. Would your opinion on that change if you could get Intel products for around half retail price? ($150 for 920, $275 for 950, $500 for 975, presumably $500 for 980)

I'll be building a rig in the next couple of months, and I've got a connection for half-priced Intel products. I don't really have any desire to go top-of-the-line, as I did that last time and didn't feel like I got my money's worth. I do however have a desire to use that discount as well as I can. To that end, I plan on getting an Intel 160gb SSD for my OS/games (in addition to a pair of 2TB drives for storage) and hopefully an Intel mobo. I haven't looked at mobo technology in a while, but as I understand there's not a lot new to look at?

So, with that in mind...
1. Would you recommend the i7-980 (at the $500 price point)? Why or why not? What alternatives?
2. What mobo should I pair with it (light overclocking and no experience with water cooling)? Is there a good Intel option?
3. Is there an easy water cooling setup that I could do? Or is it all going to require more work than I want?
3a. If I do go with water, is it going to up the weight significantly?
4. What graphics card should I pair with it? I'm okay with getting a pair of them I think, but I haven't decided whether I want to go huge monitor, dual-monitor, or 3d-monitor, so I don't know if that plays into it or not.

Thanks in advance!
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  1. Best answer
    1.) Not for gaming. You'd do better just to save your money. The extra cores don't do much for games, it's more useful for number crunching. I would get the i7-930 though.
    2.) See the build below.
    3.) Not really. Air is just as good and more reliable. It's also a lot cheaper.
    3a.) Yes. The weight of the liquid and the extra parts would add quite a bit.
    4.) See build below. 3D is useless right now as there is NOTHING to play in 3D. Expect that to continue for several years.

    CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Asus P6X58D Premium $570. Intel motherboards are actually very low quality. I'd definitely avoid them.
    RAM: G.Skill Pi 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $190
    GPU: HD 5970 $700
    HDD: 2x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $180
    PSU: OCZ Z Series 850W 80+ Gold $190 after rebate
    Case: HAF 922 $80 after rebate
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $22
    HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $35

    Total: $1,967 @retail prices.. I left out the SSD. I wouldn't buy one right now as they're still to expensive.
  2. Best answer selected by Kanenfawder.
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