The last time I built a computer was 2004, so I am feeling a bit bewildered by the choice that's available now.
Basically I am looking to build a computer to post-process digital photography, with a side goal of being able to occasionally play some computer games(Civ 5, some fps's). Right now, my lenovo x200 isn't doing too well with either of those goals.
After some preliminary research, I've come up with a build --
1. phenom ii x6
2. 4gb of ddr3 1600 memory
3. xfx 5770 graphics card
4. 890fx chipset motherboard
5. antec 1200 case
6. corsair 850w power supply
7. zalman cooler
Since this is the last computer I'll be building for a while, upgradability is important(hence the full tower). I'd also like to overclock(hence the power supply and the large fan). But I am constrained by money and any money I could save would be good; so my specific questions are
1) Supposing I want to go the AMD route, as in the preliminary build, what motherboard/cpu combination would allow me the most room to upgrade in the future?(as well as perform well, of course)
2) Fast writes are important-- will SATA 6gb/s be better than current SCSI drives?
3) any hard drive recommendations or cooling recommendations would be great also
These components seem to run about ~$1200. That's roughly how much I am willing to spend also, but I wouldn't mind give or take 100-200 dollars.
You're better off with an i7-860 or i7-930. The stock phenom ii x6 is about the same performance, but lacks the overclock headroom of the above 2 CPU's. Also, those run on 8 threads as opposed to the X6's 6.
PSU wise you'll be fine with a 550W psu if you don't plan on xfire down the road. If you do, a 650w will be fine.
You can also consider a SSD, but it's expensive. It's up to you if you think the performance upgrade is worth the money, but here are a few articles from Tom's Hardware and Anandtech advocating the upgrade.