Thanks to both of you for the info. It's a very good starting point to do my research and fine tune the choices!
As for the CPU...I so love/hate this eternal AMD/Intel "feud"..which one to chose??? I'm an eternal infidel so I guess I'll do my homework and start reading about it
@ Liverandbacon: I'm not anti-sli. But in the past it didn't really offered noticeable advantage over a single high end gpu...and replacing that single gpu by another single gpu during the lifetime of the comp was less expensive and offered a more uniform overall performance as new games were released (this is meant to be a gaming PC).
of course, somebody is bound to mention Solid State Drives (SSD's). those drives are wicked fast, and they will allow Windows to boot insanely fast. however, they're also ludicrously expensive in terms of cost/GB. taking a quick look over at Newegg, you can get a 32GB SSD for ~$70 USD. doesn't sound like much until you consider that you can get a 750GB HD for the same price. just keep that in mind if you do go that route.
I currently have 3 HDD on my gaming comp which is 4-2yr old depending on the components (I tend to keep files in case I'd use them again in the near future but most of them are totally useless..and my filing system is such a mess...).
How about getting a small SSD drive and a bigger Hard drive for storage? Is that worth it or should just I get two regular HDD? (I am very partial to the 1TB Western Digital Black drive, at least for storage). Don't know if I've been lucky but those WD drives never failed me.
n the GPU side, i would recommend the GeForce 460, Radeon 5830, or the Radeon 5850. all of them are excellent performers at a great price point. the performance edge goes to the GeForce.
I have a Radeon 4870, is it worth replacing it with one of those cards or the one proposed by L&B at this time or would you keep it a bit longer and wait for the next gen? (obviously, this may also influence the mobo choice...)
Also, the noise is also a factor for me (my ears are abnormally ultra sensitive). I always have earphones when I use my gaming PC, even if I'm not gaming because the noise just drives me mad. I chose the Radeon 4870 because at the time because it was less noisy than its nVidia counterpart but still, every time I turn on my PC I feel like an old jet is flying right over my head even with earphones on...for the same performance, I am ready to pay a little extra for a few less decibels (one the reasons why my budget is flexible...the same applies to the case and the fans). Any other case suggestions in that regard (good space/ventilation/sound insulation compromise)? - current case is an Antec P180-b for info.
i'd put it into some better cooling in the form of a CPU fan/heatsink and perhaps a couple of high CFM fans so that you can get some better overclocking results.
That is definitely a given for the heatsink fan... For the cfm fans, I usually go for a compromise between cooling performance and noise.
Btw current built it:
Intel C2D E8400 @ 3400 GHz (tried higher but Mobo didn't like it at all).
Gpu: Ati Radeon 4870
Mobo: Motherboard Asus P5WDH
3 Western Digital 1x250GB + 2X500GB @ 7200rpm
Corsair XMS 2GB PC-6400 DDR2 CL4 (with an additional little kick in the lower back from d3)
Sound Card: modified Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
PSU: Antec True Power Trio 650W
case: Antec P-180b
It might not be half bad but everyone has whims...and this is one of mine!