Do you need an operating system like windows 7? If not I have multiple options to follow here:
AMD Route: Probably an overclocked 955 BE CPU along with an 6970 and 8 gigs of RAM.
Intel: i5 2500k with an 9650 that is flashed to a 6970. (Flashing is basically making the card think it is better than it actually is, and it actually would perform just as good as an 6970.) Also, 8 gigs of RAM here too.
Now I don't have a complete parts guide here for you, if someone doesn't put one together for you I will in a little. (Very Sleepy lol) But these would be the basic guidelines here. You could even get a gtx 560ti though, but these above options would be what I would stick around with the CPU and GPU.
No OS needed but thanks for the reply. I neglected to mention that I will need to get most of the parts from
Amazon (gift cards). I am also distracted at the moment with the Mizzou - Oklahoma game. Only happens once a year.
you can save some money here and there. For example on the HDD (get 500 gb or 750 depends on your needs). You could also get a different GPU, or a different version of the 560ti. I am sure others in the community will have better or more suggestions.
On newegg the same build is $865.92 before rebates 800.92 after rebates. The ram is different but it wont really effect the quality of the build. I can post the links if you want them.
You mentioned AMD, but bulldozer is coming hopefully in October so it would be kind of pointless to build AMD b/c your cpu would be 'obsolete' in a month.
If you're making a trip to Microcenter for the i5-2500k might as well take advantage of their great 2500k and motherboard combo deals such as http://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.phtml?sku_list=200121+525667 or GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 LGA 1155 Z68 ATX Intel Motherboard. You get a $40 discount on the motherboard and it also has a $10 mail-in rebate right now! Btw, I actually picked this up my self for one of my builds and am happy to say the motherboard is amazing especially at $119.99 and $10 rebate. Most noteworthy feature is two x8/x8 pci-e slots for future sli and crossfire configurations.
(NOTE: Need to put both in cart to see/get discount)