Definitely want a legal OS so I'm eligible for all updates.
Good tip on sound. Forgot to mention sound since it is a separate budget from the computer.
Will be running an external sound box:
Focusrite Saffire 6 USB - 6 Channel Audio & MIDI USB Computer Interface. It handles live recording/MIDI performance/ and monitoring playback.
I've read the experiences of many people using SSD's and it seems like the storage medium is rarely where the bottlenecks occur. That said, I'll be running 7200RPM 6G/sec HD's with a 6G/sec MOBO to make sure it's not an issue.
GPU, MOBO and CPU are far more likely culprits when it comes to snail-like rendering behavior than HD from what I've read. Hopefully I've got those fairly well ironed out by going i5 2500K/Z68/GTX 560.
After getting pounded on by a few other editors, I'm leaning towards several upgrades:
Instead of 2500K/Z68/GTX 560, I'm thinking 2600K/Z68/GTX 570 should give me appreciably better render times. Also I'll bump RAM to 16G to take advantage of the full capabilities of the 8 threads in the 2600K.
Long render times suck eggs. I really want my vid renders to be blazing so I can go from raw video to final DVD as quickly as possible.