OK, so after a few weeks of constantly agonizing over this, and adding/subtracting items from my newegg cart daily, I think it's time to put it out there and ask for some opinions.
I am not a gamer. I repeat: I am not a gamer. I do work in the database/content management field and I want to be able to install open-source enterprise-level software at home to test and learn. This means lots of virtualization, ability to move large amounts of data around quickly, and heavy database work.
I'm aiming for a machine that has enough connectivity options so I'm not left hanging in the near future. Firewire, eSATA, USB 2.0/3.0 for data and HDMI/D-sub/DVI for video...maybe it's overkill but I often find myself wishing I had x connector or y port.
The thing I'm most unsure about is the GPU. Everyone has an opinion and I'm not a gamer (though I will be doing Photoshop work) so this one seemed as good as any, and had the ports I want. I should mention that I don't have a TV, but I am planning on getting a 1080p HDTV soon and in the long run will probably use that as my display device instead of a standard monitor.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP
BUDGET RANGE: as close to 1000 as possible - definitely under 1200
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Nah
So here is what I have so far: CASE:COOLER MASTER CM690 II Advanced - $100 - I am in love with this case. HDD slot in the top, eSata/Firewire front connectors, 3 fans, great cooling potential, cable management, easy drive installation/removal, solid construction...for $100 bucks I don't know why anyone would get another case, gamer or not.
CPU: i7 860 - $280 - right now it's the same price as the 920, but it clocks faster. The combo deal I have is bringing the price down a bit anyhow.
CPU COOLING:COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus - $30 - wasn't sure if I needed this, but I read a forum post at some point which said that whether you're overclocking or not (and I may at some point after learning more) the stock cooling is not enough. This one is cost effective and well-liked.
GPU:HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 - $90 - ok I have no idea if this is the right choice. It has HDMI/D-sub/DVI and I think it's powerful enough for a non-gamer, but you might have to give me some suggestions here.
WIRELESS ADAPTER:ASUS PCE-N13 PCI Express Wireless Adapter - $30 - I'm putting this in because in my current apartment there is no LAN access in my living room where I do all of my work, and I don't think my landlord would be happy with my drilling a hole. In the future I may not need this, but for now wireless is how I want to be connecting to the Web. Yes it's slower but it's out of necessity and I'm dealing with it fine now.
OS: Windows 7 64-bit for system builders - $100
So subtract some dough for combo deals and mail-in rebates and the total is $1,125 plus shipping. That's acceptable to me, but if you can see major mistakes in terms of overkill, underkill, or compatibility I'm open to suggestions. Wouldn't mind shaving a few bucks here and there.
Go with the 1366 platform for virtualization. Get a i7-930 from microcenter.com. Check out the GA-X58A-UD3R. ($200). Best case for a virt PC. Also, get a Seagate 7200.12 or a Samsung Spinpoint F3 instead of a WD HDD.
Well, the i7 930 even for $200 would probably be too expensive for a ~ $1100 on average setup which includes everything, and for a LGA 1366 platform OP would need 6GB of RAM, around $50 - $100 extra.
OK, a lot of suggestions for you:
Get the ASUS P7P55D-E LX motherboard instead for around $60 cheaper, it just doesn't include another PCI-e 16x slot, but for you that wouldn't matter.
A Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB would be a better option for your HDD for $10 less.
Your PSU is overkill, considering that the HD 4670 doesn't even use a 6-pin PCI-e power connector. Go for the Corsair CX400W for $34.99 after rebate, IIRC.
The HD 4670 is a pretty good price/perf card. Photoshop does support video acceleration, although I'm not sure how much of a help it would be. The HD 4670 is fine for now.
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus will help later on if you want to do some decent overclocking later on, although I wouldn't think it would hit 4.0GHz. Just remember that if overclock later on, make sure that for safety reasons do not go past 1.365V, and make sure temperatures are below 70°C.
It looks like the only other difference between the LX and PRO is Firewire, but since I have eSATA and USB3.0, you're right it's not worth the extra $60. Are there other things besides video cards that can go in PCI-e x16 slots? Just want to make sure that if i lose the extra one I won't be shooting myself in the foot when it comes to expansion down the road.
Thanks for the suggestion on the PSU, and the comment on the 4670.
As for OC, I imagine I won't go up past 3.5 GHz, but honestly I've never done it before and while I like the idea I need to learn a LOT more before actually doing it.
Re: 930 vs. 860 - why would 930 be better, just because of the 1366 socket? I believe these clock the same OOB.