I am also building a new system, and a lot of your choices are very close to mine.
Some things I would suggest:
1. RAID 0 / striping. So do NOT bother. I did this a while back on an EpoX board that had a RAID controller. After the SECOND
damn time the RAID wiped out and I had to reinstall everything, I didnt bother resetting up the RAID and just left them as two HDD. I noticed zero decrease in performance. There are some enthusiast websites out there that have done more scientific studies on this, and come to the exact same conclusion - RAID 0 / striping does squat for system performance. Plus every time the system blue screens or hangs you sit crossing your fingers hoping the RAID didnt wipe out.
RAID 1 / mirroring, I can agree with if you are worried about data loss. If 250gb is enough storage for you, and the very very small chance of data loss on a modern HDD you can live with, just stick with one HDD.
Also - Are you sure you can RAID together a Ultra ATA and SATA device? My previous experience with the EpoX board was that the RAID / SATA controller chip was quite seperate from the Ultra ATA controller. Perhaps this is different now, as the SATA was an "add on" to the base chipset, and now it is included in the chip set? Maybe something to check up on anyway.
2. SLI - I dont think you should regard SLI as a future upgrade path. If you want to SLI right now
then go for it. If you think you might "in the future", I dont think it is worth it. Simply put a single 7800 GT or GTX right now out performs the previous generation 6800 Ultra in SLI. Fast forward to ~ 2 years from now (when I am guessing the 7800 GT will become more middle of the road and you need to upgrade to play Call of Duty 3 or whatnot), and whatever the next generation card is will probably also outperform 2 x 7800 GT in SLI. So you could just drop a new card in in place of the 7800GT. The other thing you have to worry about is actually being able to GET a 7800GT in 2 years time. It may be a discontinued part in favour of some other 7800 flavour. (7800 GS or something). I think some of the previous 6 generation owners face that problem now.
I guess though that a second 7800GT in 2 years time will be cheaper than a single "next generation", which is a point in favour of the SLI upgrade path.
3. Not going SLI means you can scale back on the cost of your motherboard. The NForce 4 Ultra Mobo chipset contains the same goodies as the SLI chipset, just no SLI
. With this chipset you can either go for maybe
- a Asus A8N-E (which needs the screamer fan on the northbridge ripped off and replaced with a Zalman)
- an Abit AN8 Ultra (as suggested by depravedone in my system build post). This one comes with stock passive northbridge cooling, so an added bonus of no Mobo warranty voiding!
Plus, looking at the pic posted (on my thread
) it should "fit" everything into/onto your board, provided a Scythe Ninjo doesnt take up a great deal more space than a Zalman 7700. (piccies at Big Heat sink pics
- Gigabyte also makes some NForce 4 Ultra boards with passive cooling. I didnt really look into them though.
- Check the usual suspect enthusiast sites for other (non passive cooled) mobos. I keep seeing the MSI and Epox ones mentioned as pretty decent. I am on a personal EpoX embargo for an upgrade or 2 though, as the last 2 boards of mine by EpoX had the capacitors crap out. (And a friends as well)
4. I second the nod towards a cheaper 7800 GT, my personal choice is a XFX.
You have brought up some interesting discussion points re the Athlon 3500+, and how it aint much better than a 3200+ so save your cash... I will have to look inot this a bit further (or stretch to a San Diego core 3800+ or an X2)