So, my motherboard died last week. This sucks. The good news is that my wife said I can rebuild or buy a new computer (yay!!). I really want to keep my case, RAID controller, hard drives, PSU. Everything else I'm willing to replace. I need help figuring out which option is best. Here are my computer specs:
Processor: 2x Intel Xeon E5410
RAM: 16GB Kingston DDR2 FB-DIMM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) ECC (4x4GB)
Graphics: XFX nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS
Mainboard: ASUS Z7S WS Dual LGA 771 Intel 5400 SSI CEB Server Motherboard
Computer Case: Lian-Li Classic Series PC-A70B / Black / Full Tower Case
Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM1000-HP 1000W
Cooling: 2x Noctua NH-U12DX heatsinks; 3x Noctua NF-P12 120mm fans; etc.
3x Seagate Barracuda ES.2 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
RAID Controller: 3ware 9650SE-8LPML KIT PCI Express x4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s)
8x 500GB Seagate RAID-5 for 3.17TB usable space
For context, I did consistently use a substantial portion of the power of my now defunct machine, and so I want a machine with similar (perhaps slightly lower) power. I have some programs that really only use 1-core, so I wouldn't mind if the strength of a single core was higher, but I don't really need 8-cores.
In addition to this computer's previous duties, I'm going to rebuild with gaming in mind (Tribes Ascend and Diablo 3). It doesn't need to be godly (I sometimes bring graphics settings in games down on purpose), but I want it to be very smooth.
Unless you convince me otherwise, I'm picking up a Radeon HD 6850. According to Passmark, this is the best bang for my buck. I could also crossfire these down the road if I wanted to improve the graphics (assuming whatever motherboard I get allows for this).
I think this video card would handle my needs. I had also considered a GeForce GTX 480, which for $100 more seems to benchmark well and still be a fairly efficient use of money according to the passmark benchmark(although, not as efficient as the Radeon).
Now, I need to figure out what to do about this motherboard. The dead motherboard is very expensive to replace (if you can even find it), and frankly, while it is a great motherboard when it works, it is known for failing and being a pain to install and get working. It lacks Win 7 support also. Unless you can convince me otherwise, I will not be buying an identical motherboard. I need to revamp my system. Here are what I believe are my options:
Go for the new ddr3 i7 setup and sell off your old stuff. I switched from explorer to chrome; explorer has some issues with flash player 11.0 with windows 7 64; don't expect too much from wndows 7; it's bloated with files so the 8 gb of ram is needed just to keep up with older machines with less ram. The four cores with the i7 should be adequate for your needs.
I have been using Win 7. I have to say, I'm far more impressed by a streamlined, stripped down "performance" version of XP (e.g. 12-second bootup on my netbook!). Unfortunately, XP has real hardware limits, and it is seeing less and less support.