Ok, sorry for the long wait for anybody who was wanting to know how this system turned out. Needless to say I've been very busy playing all of my old favorite PC games and the new ones
Heres the short review: its amazing.
Here's the in depth review: its amazingly fast.
Here's the review the might help people decide on what to buy: just buy what I did and you'll be happy.
Basically I spent about $1100 on this rig from newegg.com:
AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition cpu
MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard
Sapphire Vapor-X ATI Radeon HD 4890 1GB graphics card
4GB (2x2GB) OCZ AMD AM3 Edition DDR31600 memory
1TB Western Digital Caviar Black Hard Drive
Corsair GameXstream 750w PSU
Samsung DVD-RW drive
Cooler Master V8 CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Storm Scout Case
I've pushed the CPU to startup at 4.0Ghz, stable at 3.8Ghz, and am currently keeping it at 3.6Ghz because there was little performance increase in gaming between 3.6 and 3.8. Right now this is all by overclocking the multiplier, but probably tomorrow or tuesday (since I'm off work) I'm going to see what I can do by lowering the multiplier and upping the FSB. This should increase overall performance because upping the FSB also overclocks the hyper transport and memory speeds too.
The graphics card is at 950mhz core and 1100mhz memory overclocked. Not the full 1ghz and 1.2ghz speeds I wanted, but these are blazingly fast enough with stability or artifact issues. I can probably hit the 1ghz core speed goal by flashing the bios with a higher voltage setting . . . but I'm not sure if its really even worth the risk.
Windows 7 RC1 is without a doubt much faster and more stable than any of my systems with Vista on them. My bro just bout a new Asus laptop (G71Gx) for gaming (I tried to convince him to just let me build him a new rig) and Vista is just terrible (over 75 programs running in the background). I just partitioned his HD and put Windows 7 RC1 on there for him until he gets his free Windows 7 upgrade (once its released in Oct). The only hickups I've had arent because of Windows 7, but rather 64 bit incompatibilities, which have been very rare and usually have work arounds (Google is your best friend).
While I know that the Core i7 is the latest and greatest and biggest leap in CPU tech thus far . . . AMD has managed to make me a very happy customer. The unlocked mulitpliers made overclocking much easier and fast, along with compatibility with DDR3 memory (didnt want DDR2 since its just bout obsolete), and HT 3.0 support this platform rocks. Most games are more GPU dependant anyhow, so the hundreds I saved by getting the Phenom II went into my 4890 and a 1TB hard drive (I like to download everything).
While most major games are "optimized" for Intel cpus and Nvidia gpus, that doesn't mean they wont play on AMD. This game eats Crysis alive on high settings (gonna have to crossfire to max it out). However, I am running Crysis Warhead on the highest enthusiest settings with around 25 to 40 fps, average 30. Not the smoothest but definitely playable. I just purchased Arma II, which is stunningly beautiful and many times photo realistic to the point its scary. A "simulation" indeed. I spent some time in the military so I've always enjoyed military shooters (mostly just to see if game developer has figured out that the M16A2/A4 is not full auto, or that RPGs have a 75% fail rate), and this one takes the cake! While I have everything but AA maxed out and the draw distanced toned back to 2100 meters (still a lot imo), this game is definately a milestone toward photorealistic gaming IMO. Check out the demo on Steam!
Now back on topic: The Cooler Master Storm Scout is a very sexy and sleek gaming case. It has awesome airflow, a very convenient carry handle, and the best paint job I've ever seen for a case (the inside is also painted black, definitely a plus). My only complaints are the features that make this case a "scout" and the tool less expansion slots (these are worthless, I still screwed in my graphics and sound card (I'm using my old SB Audigy 2 until I get an Auzentech Forte). The two red LED fans are very dim, and really only add a red accent color to the case. Also, the side window is tinted, which is cool, but effectively hides your inner components, so if you want to show them off at a lan party you'll have to either install extra lighting or take off the side panel. Also while the front intake fan and perforated bay covers have dust filters, the side window fan ports do not (there are two *optional* fan ports on the side window). While the dim lights and tinted window definitely make this case a "scout" I did wish the red lights would've been brighter.
In conclusion I am very happy with this build indeed. I made so many mistakes with my first build in 2004 (crappy case, cheap PSU) that I have definitely done much more research this time around (actually understand what the northbridge and southbridges are) and am confident I have avoided my past mistakes and made the right choices with this platform. I also gave myself plenty of extra head room with a 1TB Hard Drive and a 750w PSU. The overly powerful PSU will allow me to CF in the future, and hopefully I will be able to carry it over to my next build down the road (same with the Storm Scout Case).
If anybody has any questions or concerns just PM me