<Nerd alert> If you're really not interested in dorky computer stuff, you can ignore this post </Nerd alert>
I've been looking to upgrade my Core 2 Quad machine for a while now. It's fast, but like anyone I'd like faster.
Below are the parts that I've currently got on my wishlist at NewEgg.com. But I'd like to note that I'm assuming a few things with this:
1) That you've already got a monitor, keyboard, mouse, tablet, speakers, etc. This is just for the big computer part that goes on the floor.
2) That you know what you're doing building a computer. It's really not that hard if you're up for new experiences. Actually it's quite fun and there is something to working on a machine that you know you built.
3) I'm going to salvage my video card and hard drives from my current machine. I also have a copy of Vista x64 that I don't need to buy.
So, here are the specs:
$79.99 Antec Solo Black/Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$314.99 ASUS P6T WS PRO LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
$294.99 Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
$358.00 12GB RAM = 2x CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600
$369.00 Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB SATA Internal Solid state disk (SSD)
$66.99 Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366 Ready
According to Newegg, this comes to $1,483.96
As I said, I've already got hard drives (a 150GB Velociraptor and 4 1TB storage drives), power supply, and a video card. But you could certainly get multiple TB of storage for the cost of that SSD. Or get 6GB of RAM instead of 12 and spend the difference on a decent video card. I prefer passively cooled ones without fans, but that's because I'm a silent computer dork. You don't need THAT fancy of a video card even for photoshop CS4. Anything around $100-$130 will do quite nicely.
If you really wanted to slim it down you could get a nice 1TB drive (like the WD Black series) for $130 or so, stick with 6GB of RAM, a low-end video card and the stock cooler for about $1000. You could also save about $100 by going with the low-end P6T motherboard, but I'm willing to pay a little more to get the higher-end workstation board which may be a little more stable. Me, I was planning on overclocking this 2.66GHz CPU to around 3.6 or so.
Reasons why I'm hesitating pulling the trigger:
1) The economy is really bad, so it's hard to justify spending money when the computer I have works just fine. Then again, my current machine could be sold for around $500 at least, so that would defray the cost a bit.
2) The prices of DDR3 RAM are coming down, so every couple weeks I wait, I could get more/better/faster RAM for less. Maybe even wait until I can get the 4GB DIMMS which would let me get to 24GB of RAM. I know, silly.
3) I'd love to replace my 4 1TB storage drives with just a pair of the new WD 2TB drives that have just been announced but everyone is currently sold out of. They are rumored to be quiet and cool and surprisingly fast due to high areal density.
4) Anandtech.com is going to post a round-up of the latest SSD drives and I'd like to see if any of them can compete with the Intel for less before I leap. Up until now, almost all of the reasonable ones were haunted by a crappy JMicron controller which had horribly bad write latency.
The crazy thing is that even with the SDD and the 2TB drives, I can have my dream system for less than $2000. That's just insane.
If you've got questions, I've got answers.