Motherboard, Cooler, And Memory
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-DS4
Using the Core i7 CPU means using an Intel X58 chipset, and there are a lot of intriguing X58 motherboards out there already. We chose the Gigabyte GA-EX58-DS4 because of the attractive price and myriad overclocking settings.
The DS4 is the cheapest of Gigabyte's X58 motherboard lineup (Ed.: as of Don's writing--Gigabyte now sells an even cheaper model on NewEgg that you could also consider), so what do we give up for the price? The killer feature is SLI support, as the DS4 only supports up to 3-way CrossFire. For 3-way SLI and CrossFire support, you need to spend $55 more on the EX58-UD5. Other than that, the DS3 and UD5 are extremely close in functionality, with the same BIOS options. The only other notable differences are that the UD5 carries a higher-quality ALC889A HD audio chipset, dual Gigabit LAN connectivity, and more copper on the PCB. Compared to the DS4's ALC888 audio chipset and single Gigabit LAN capability, these are nice features but not deal-breakers for the frugal buyer.
This makes the DS3 a very attractive option as a full-featured Core i7 motherboard at a low price, as long as you don't require SLI support. Since we'll be using a single Radeon 4850 X2 for this month's build, the lack of SLI capability on the DS4 isn't an issue for us.
Memory: 3x1 GB of Crucial DDR3-8500 Triple-Channel Kit CT3KIT12864BA1067
Crucial’s kit will allow us to run the X58 motherboard’s memory in all of its triple-channel glory. And why go with more than 3 GB of RAM when that’s all Vista 32-bit can see anyway?
At $79, this kit is both cost effective and boasts a CAS latency of 7, which is pretty decent for cheap DDR3. When all factors are considered, this is a perfect choice for our build, and at a great price, too.