I'm in need of some extra horsepower for my business and also trying to be extremely careful about spending right now. The machine I intend to build will be used initially as a multi-threaded number cruncher doing very cpu and memory intensive tasks, so memory bandwidth is probably almost as important as cpu power. Later on I intend to put the board into a 1U enclosure with a Dynatron cooler and add it to my small cluster of webservers. Based on what I've been reading and passmark scores, the best price/cpu value seems to be the i7 2600. As this will become 1U a server, spending the extra money on a "K" and an OC-friendly mobo does not seem worth it as temps will be too high, and any decrease in stability is unacceptible. Video capabilities are completely unimportant as this box will almost never have a monitor connected.
The whole sandy bridge motherboard mess is seriously limiting my options, so I've chosen what seems to be the best option given whats available. Here's my plan:
Wait for LGA1155. The i7-2600 is massive powerful. It beats out the i7-980X at stock.
On to the questions:
I don't see any issues.
Higher speed (or more specifically, tighter timings) would help in a number crunching build. I'd want either 1333/CL 7 or 1600/CL 9. The sticks will run at 1600 if you need them to, but the benefit of the 1600 sticks is that you can run them at 1333/CL 7
Unless not having this machine for a week or two will cost you a lot of money, I would wait just to get some more options with the boards. Right now, your choices are extremely limited. Given that this is a business machine, you want to make the absolute best decision.
I should have clarified: I am almost certainly going with the 2600, but in my post title what I meant to ask is whether I should go with the presently-available MSI H61 board or if I would benefit greatly from waiting for a different 1155 board to be in stock. And if so, what would be the benefit of the other board over this one. So far the only differences I've been able to find between this board and higher end 1155 boards are OC capabilities and enhancements like SLI, more PCIE lanes, USB3.0, gamer-oriented features, etc, none of which are important in this build.
MadAdmiral: Thanks for your insightful reply, you seem to take my whole situation into consideration which is great. I was unaware that buying 1600 meant I could run 1333 at lower timings, that definitely seems like a bonus. I've never learned about memory timings but this might be a good time to do that.
As far as whether to buy or wait, is there a specifically compelling feature or model of motherboard that I should be waiting for? If not, and if the MSI model that I mentioned is capable of running the memory at the higher speeds, I think that I'll probably go ahead with the purchase this evening. If parts have to come from NJ it could be until next week before they're all here.
The main problem I see with that H61 board you picked is that it only has two RAM slots. That greatly hampers any ability to add RAM, which is likely important for the build. Unfortunately, the only H61/H67 boards that I see available on Newegg at the moment only have two slots as well. If anything, I'd wait to see if you can get a board with the normal four slots. It's pretty hard to find a board to recommend when there aren't any listed online. I'd mainly look for an H67 board with four RAM slots and enough SATA/USB ports for your needs from any of the following brands: Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock and MSI.
You are basically right about the other features. Generally, as the price of a board increases, you get more PCIe 2.0 slots (video cards), faster PCIe 2.0 slots (video cards again) or better/easier overclocking (less stability). None of those really matter in your case.
I just noticed that the patriot 1600 kit has a $15 discount code, making it as cheap as the 1333. Makes me wonder if I've overlooked discount codes in the past...
The memory limit is a good point that I hadn't really considered. For the near term (next year or so) I didn't envision pushing anywhere near 8 gigs but maybe at some point I will want more, and my only option would be to buy and transplant another motherboard, which is not a great upgrade path.
Then again, I do have an immediate need for the cpu power, and all together I'm looking at $465 before tax & shipping for something that whomps all over my pricey dual-e5420 boxes.
It's entirely up to you. Personally, I'd wait a week or two to see if more motherboards come out. Of course, that's assuming you're not losing a lot of money by waiting. A motherboard/RAM/OS upgrade would be about $400 in the future, so if you'd save anything around or above that amount, adjusted for the likelihood of adding more RAM, by having the new machine for a week or two, then it's worth it to buy it now. If not, you'd probably do better to wait.
I know you want stability, but you can expect well over a 35% increase in performance if you overclock. From a cost standpoint, it is easily worth it IF you know how to overclock and stability test. The basic idea is that after you find your max overclock, you back it down by 5% or so that you're safely stable and then run burn-in stability tests.
As far as heat, just buy a good, cheap CPU cooler like the Hyper 212+.
8GB could be useful for a data crunching machine.
And you don't have to overclock right away, but the ability to get an extra 40% out of it for the $30 "K" and buying a P67 board will be worth it down the road whenever you get a little time to overclock.
In terms of motherboards, I think you should get the cheapest P67 made by Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, EVGA, or Biostar (roughly in that order).
I say you should just wait for the boards to return. For your needs I don't see any benefit to using the more expensive boards. I'm also guessing you don't care about the "Winki 3" quick boot linux OS this board comes with. Since your looking for stability above all I think you would be most interested in Gigabytes Ultra Durable line or MSI's Military Class (which that board does fall under I think). Things like solid state capacitors and all that ^_^.