New build suggestions for Virtualization

Approximate Purchase Date: This week

Budget Range: < 2k.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Virtualization /Lab/Test environment. Gaming, mostly WoW for now. (yes I still play it, hehe.)

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: by brand or type: ASUS Z68 MB, intel i5 or i7 2nd gen K series

Overclocking: More interested in long term reliability of system, but not going to say I'll never over clock.

SLI or Crossfire: Video cards I'm not up on the latest, but need to be able to run WoW nicely at highest res. Is it better to buy one expensive card, or two less expensive ones?

Monitor Resolution: Dell 24" HD monitor. Might use it on my 52" plasma at times though :-)

Additional Comments :

Currently, I'm running a 7 year old Dell Optiplex GX 270 now,that I've maxed out at 4G RAM, a 1T 7200 RPM (black) HD, and a graphics card purchased about three years ago. It's been fine for my gaming, but the Virutalization is driving my need to upgrade. I need a lab for development, so will need to have probably 8 to 10 vms running, but nothing under a high CPU load.

I've pretty much decided on the ASUS Z68, but can't figure out between all the different versions of it, which one has the features I need, while not paying for those I don't. Like what's the difference between the V, LX, Pro, Deluxe, etc. 5 different models for the same mobo. I've Googled, done the compare on different web sites, but really can't make out what the difference in them means to my intended use. I haven't built a PC since back in the 90s, so don't know much about all the new stuff. I notice the Deluxe includes 2 GB onboard NICs, but not that big a deal to me. I don't plan to connect to anything other than internet, and it's not going over 10 MB anyway. The rest of the stuff seems to be related to additional drives and what not. I might buy more 1T drives to raid with my existing one, but will wait to see how it performs with the single drive first. USB ports, umm, I have a USB mouse, keyboard, printer, and smartphone, so not sure I care that much about having loads of them, but want them accessible in the front, along with the audio.

One feature of the MB is the SSD caching. I was thinking I'd buy a 128 MB SSD drive and use that as my boot drive and program files, and re-use my 1T 7200 rpm (black) drive for my data and VMs. So wouldn't that make the point of SSD caching moot? I'm thinking there may be an additional benefit in that the two drives would be attached to different controllers, but not sure on that. Just looking for comments and insight.

Not planning to re-use my old Dell case, so need some suggestions on Case/Power Supply. For sure I want something I don't need tools to open, and ideally, I'd like to be able to open it while everything is hooked up to it. Something cool looking doesn't hurt as well. I plan to have this one for a long time. I'll add fans wherever there's a hole and a connection to hook them up to.

And I'll be using 8GB RAM. Will start with one stick, and add later up to 32 GB as needed (and as they become cheaper)

For the video setup, will the integrated graphics on the processor be enough to get going, so I can plan out my video card purchase later? Also will be using a dual monitor setup.

From what I've been reading, I understand the only difference between the i5 series and i7 are the speed, but all other features are the same. So I was thinking to go with the i5 2500k to save money. Let me know if I understand wrong. I don't mind paying extra, but not if all it gets me is a few hundred MHz.

Sorry for the long post, but thought I'd include as much info as I can.
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