Motherboard: EVGA X58 3-Way SLI
I've always been rather frugal when it came to motherboards; I usually just pick a decent brand that has the basic features I need and a price around $100. This time, however, I wanted to pull out some stops... Since multi-GPU support was required, that raised the stakes right away, but it wasn't going to stop there. I don't think I've ever had what you could call a high-end motherboard, and this time was as good as any to treat myself.
This EVGA X58 is by far the coolest mobo I have ever laid my eyes on, let alone called my own. Serious cooling on the chipsets and voltage regulator, crapload of USB and SATA ports, dual gigabit Ethernet, numeric LED display, integrated power and reset buttons, external CMOS reset button - this baby has it all. Of course, it supports LGA 1366 CPUs, a maximum of 24GB of triple-channel DDR3, and has enough PCI-E slots for up to 3-way SLI or Crossfire. It even has padding on the rear I/O shield for a tighter seal, which I've never even heard of before!
RAM: OCZ Gold 6GB DDR3 1600 Triple-Channel Kit
Not much to say here... OCZ makes real good RAM, and this set isn't any different. The 1600MHz rating gives some headroom for overclocking since the motherboard supports up to only 1333MHz stock. It runs at 1.65V, has timings of 8-8-8-24, and sports some shiny gold heatsinks. 6GB is more RAM than all I've ever had put together, and at only about $25 per GB, I could double that amount pretty easily if I want to later on.
Storage: OCZ Agility 120GB SATA II Solid-State Drive
This is the one aspect of the build that I was more excited about than anything else. Yes, they are very expensive at a few dollars per gigabyte, but the overall performance benefit of an SSD is said to be a real eye-opener. It won't have an effect on framerate in games, but it will reduce load times and possible hitching or stuttering caused by mid-game asset streaming. Not to mention the wide-spread speed increase throughout Windows and virtually all applications. With read and write speeds upwards of 200 MB/s, this bad boy leaves traditional hard disks in the dust. I will keep a few of those around for mass storage, of course, ideally through a USB dock or enclosure.
Audio: HT Omega Striker 7.1 PCI Sound Card
For a long while, I was like many others that thought Creative is the only name in the sound card business, but then I found HT Omega. I had never heard of them before, but reviews on Newegg are good and their very lightweight driver package was updated just a couple months ago. Another big plus for me is the onboard hookup for front panel audio - I'm not sure if it's the same with X-Fi cards, but my Audigy 2 ZS would've required a complicated wiring and soldering job to support that. It's a solid piece, and I'm happy to support a company that doesn't screw over its consumer base in more ways than I could possibly mention here.