An AMD CPU may be a serious bottleneck in performance and especially so if you try to pair them with high end graphics. However, no high end graphics set up is reasonable with a monitor resolution that low. Crossfire or SLI would be useless for you for several reasons:
1. Dual GPU setups have more problems the lower end the GPUs are.
2. Dual GPU setups are way overkill for your monitor's resolution.
3. If you had a higher resolution monitor then your CPU would bottleneck the GPUs anyway.
For professional work(especially multimedia) the i7-2600K is pretty much undefeated in the sub $500 range. Also, Nvidia graphics cards are generally better for professional work because they are usually better in GPGPU situations then AMD's current graphics cards. AMD made a huge leap with their new architecture but their only retail video card built on it right now is the 7970, way outside your budget.
Thanks for the suggestions. I will consider another CPU in another build. I have already committed to the current purchases and we will see how it goes. Also, not really a big deal on the dual-graphics cards; just curious. I may purchase a better monitor later.
Thanks Keep 'em comin....
Unless that other build is needed right away, the i7-2600K will no longer be the best choice. In a few months Intel's new CPUs come out and the 2600K will be replaced by a faster CPU that uses less power for the same price as the i7-2600K. I think it's model name is the i7-3700K but I'm not sure.
Also to come out by then would be Nvidia's new graphics cards and the rest of AMD's new cards (only thr 7970 is out right now and priced between $500 and $600 it isn't a budget card)
For audio production you don't need a whole lot of horse power, I think your little quad core would be just fine for most things in the audio world. Even my old core2duo did Audition and Audacity just fine. Audio is an odd duck. It really does not require a whole lot of processor power, what is most important is HDD throughput, and having seperate OS, Media, and Scratch discs. Lots of ram helps too. DDR3 8GB or 16GB would be sugested and plenty for almost any recording/editing configuration.
The most important part of your build will be your audio interface. Do not use onboard audio, or a traditional sound card. Tascam US-1800 is a good starting place for this, but there are much better interfaces on the market depending on the price you are willing to pay. This will ensure the most accurate recording quality, and keep you from phase issues, while giving 0ms (or at least close to 0ms) recording delay. USB3 devices should be coming out soon (if they are not out yet), and will allow for many more simultaneous input lines at 0ms.
As to graphics, it is entirely secondary for audio recording. There is (so far as I know) no use for CUDA or other GPU accelerated technologies in today's software yet. Get something that will do what you need, but get something that is silent (or at least very quiet). There is nothing more annoying than a little bit of fan noise to mask something important in the background.
If this is to be an entry level workstation (which it seem to be), then avoid overclocking, sound cards, or multiple GPUs as they are all things which can lead to system instability. Sure, the risk of instability is small, but the last thing you want when in mid-project, is the something to crash.
Lastly, the PSU is hugely overkill unless you are doing multiple GPUs (which I suggest against). When you pick your GPU then use the suggested size power supply for that card. If using the onboard GPU then something in the 350W range would do just fine. I like the OCZ PSUs, as they are pretty nice no matter what OCZ's history has been.
If a fast video card isn't necessary then you could get a passively cooled low end card to eliminate all video card fan noise completely or use the crappy on-board graphics. On-board is more than good enough for work that doesn't need much GPU horsepower so I can't say it's a bad choice if you don't do anything that necessitates more graphics speed.
On that note you could get a high quality passive CPU cooler too and just have a large exhaust fan and large intake. You could go for 120mm or 140mm fans for this purpose or larger if your case fits larger fans.
However it is worth mentioning that a LOT of software uses CUDA and other GPU accelerations, especially with multimedia work. But if audio work is so light then it won't be needed anyway.
Thanks caedenv good info !! I am currently using a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra. works well for what I am doing at the moment. mostly midi with added audio. Just dont want hiccups while recording / playing back audio. Also using lots of samples and loops simultaneously! Thanks