So for the folks who have responded to my previous two posts regarding a system upgrade, thanks a lot for the advice. That was extremely useful. I ended up just grabbing the evga 560 Ti for now until I can save around 1200 to build a blazing fast system.
In the meantime, I am interested in learning more about computer hardware and how to determine which pieces need to be compatible, etc. Is there a recommended free online resource for learning about this kind of thing?
Your motherboard manual will list compatable ram capacities and which slots to use for 2-6 sticks of ram, depending on the board chipset. You may also read the board manual online before ordering, which is my best advice. The board webpage has a qvl listing for ram, and bios files required for specific cpus. Youtube has several videos on putting together a system; look for a "breadboard" listing for testing the board/cpu/ram on a non conductive surface before mounting in the case. I recommend biostar as I've used up to four brands of ram in some of my boards without any issues (a few were mixed, which I don't recommend).