I need help assembling a decent-but-no-bling gaming platform. My budget is approximately $1500, but of course, the less the better.
I am asking for help because I haven't been paying attention to hardware development for the last 5 years, so I don't have a clear picture of which options are out there, how they compare, and how they combine.
Here are some starting constraints.
*) I will be using a 27'' LCD monitor, with a native resolution of 1920x1080. This constrains the graphics card. So far, I am going for a...
*) Radeon HD 6950 w/2GB RAM. My plan is to start with one, and then later buy another and CrossFire-connect them. Eventually, I will fiddle with my BIOS to convince it that the cards are Radeon HD 6970 cards. This constrains the PSU, and might constrain the motherboard (does it need to support CrossFire?).
*) I want to experiment with watercooling when I purchase my second graphics card. This constrains the cabinet. Lian-Li Armorsuit pc p80 would work, but I find it somewhat large. While not relevant now, I would appreciate a link to a watercooling howto made by people who know what they are doing.
*) I want 2 or 4 SSD hard drives running RAID 0. This constrains the motherboard (its chip should have decent RAID support). If you have come across a good benchmark of 1, 2 RAID 0, and 4 RAID 0 SSD performance (so I can see if it pays off going from 2 SSDs to 4), I would appreciate a link.
As you can see, the biggest variable is the motherboard. I know that RAM, graphics, and fast drive read is more important than a blazing CPU when it comes to gaming, so a motherboard with ample RAM slots and non-bottlenecking buses are what I need. Then there is the NF200 chip, which according to http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/p67-gaming-3-way-sl... is supposedly useful in a multi-GPU setup. Can it only be exploited in a NVidia SLI setup, or will an AMD CrossFire setup find use for it?
So, what would you do with $1500 and these constraints, and why? :-)