Here's an XFX 5850 for less (free shipping) and with an amazing warranty. XFX is generally considered the highest quality for ATI GPUs.
I also don't consider RAID 0 to be worth it. You double your chances of a minor error causing you to lose everything. Instead of paying $110 for 1 TB of storage (with some added speed and large added failure odds), I'd pay $75 for it and get the 1 TB model.
I'm not seeing a case, which could change some combo recommendations. I assume you have one though...
It's not the same price. The Ripjaws have a $10 promo. I'm also fairly certain that the Ripjaws' heat spreaders aren't big enough to interfere with the major heatsinks. That's more of a problem with the Trident series. I could be wrong though, but my Ripjaws don't seem to extend that high up...
Dunno how attached you are to AMD. You could easily go i5-760+Asus p7p55d-e Pro and 460 1GB SLI for about the same price as AMD + 5850 SLI and get slightly better performance in game and otherwise. If you go this build, I would stick with the ripjaws, as the extra voltage matters on the Intel side. I would also maybe consider stepping up to the xfx 750 if you're sure you are going to be SLIing, although 650 should handle this level of card easily. Would just be a "nice-to-have" if you have a little extra space in your budget.
i5 760: 210
p7p55d-e Pro: 180
Any GTX 460: 230-250
You wouldn't get better performance. The 5850 would win right now and tie once Crossfired (it's essentially the 5970 at stock). Given that a good 5850 can be had for roughly the same price as the 460 (I know a few bucks more), it's essentially a wash, except that you'd spend a good $100 more for the i5 and P55 board and get nothing for it.
Also, Intel's current sockets are dead ends. The LGA 1156 is being replaced by the end of the year, and the LGA 1366 is following soon after. It's a pretty bad itdea to be building on something that's going to be obsolete in under three months.
You're not counting the combo for the X4 955 and the PSU. That's $35 off for the AMD build, making it cheaper. I also wouldn't expect the 5850 to stay where it is now for long. It was just $255 yesterday, which means it's likely to see a permanent price drop soon, especially with the 6xxx series due out relatively soon. I can't see the 460 moving for a long time.
Also, if I had time (or the desire to do it), I could easily play around with different possible motherboard choices and find some more combos. That would put even more daylight between the prices.
Bulldozer IS going to be plug and play with AM3 sockets. It just depends on the chipset. Considering that the 8xx is the newest, it will be. At the worst, you'd need a (free) BIOS update, which you can do yourself. That's better than not having anything to move to.
Similarly, in these benches, 460 SLI seems to come out ahead just a little bit too. Same deal as with the chip comparison. Not anything major, where I would say going one way is wrong and the other is right, but enough to warrant bringing it to OP's attention.
That's the 8-core. No one will ever need that for gaming. There will still be 6-core ones that will likely be compatible. Also, they may change that. After all, the AM3 CPUs were compatibile with AM2 and AM2+ boards, so there's no saying that's not how it will be when they're released.
I should also point out that many benchmarks for CPUs are pointless. To get viable results, they have to impose unrealistic settings to handicap the builds. You'll never see those differences in real life.
Another thing to consider with the GPUs is how well they overclock. The 5850 overclocks amazingly well. I'm not sure what the 460 does.
I should also point out that the Gigabyte board is on the "higher" end of AMD boards. The board I've tended to recommend simply because you can't beat it for features and price is the ASRock 870 Extreme3 for $90. I know ASRock isn't as high quality, but it is Asus' budget brand, so it's still fairly good. That would knock another $50 off the cost of the AMD build.
I should also point out that the X4 955 is $153, not $160, but I'm not going to fight over $7...
I switched to the gigabyte mobo, and I was already doing the 955 xfx combo, thanks for pointing that out though.
As far as the core i5 goes, I looked at a lot of benchmarks, they all favored the AMD for gaming. One of the benches was here on toms hardware. AMD works for me.
I don't want any Nvidia card. As I stated above I'm doing this for eyefinity. My current Nvidia rig plays all the games on full, i'm in this for the eyefinity experience.
5850 with a small OC is as good as the 5870 stock (looked at multiple benchmarks) And I don't want the XFX 5850 because the HIS has the iCooler V and so better cooling = better OC. 5850 should be cheap by December, I can easily throw another in.
955 OC to 4.0ghz stable 80% of the time, if it doesn't make it, it will be around 3.8 and thats still good.
As far as a case goes, I'm looking for one that I like, but if you see any good combo's let me know. I prefer a side panel window and obviously good cooling.
I want a fast HDD situation, I am really considering raid 0 but Ive never done it, can we shine more light on that subject?