Been having a few slowdowns in ~30 second intervals across multiple OS's that I couldn't track down, so I thought it'd be time for an upgrade. The 4600+ AMD CPU is more than 4 years old now, so it's served its time well. The initial Asus M2N32 Deluxe motherboard only lasted 2 years, and the 8800GTS that the system was built on survived 3. Since then the motherboard had been downgraded to a stock M2N32 without SLI, and a new GTX260 just over 1 year ago took the box to its current state. I had hoped I could keep the GTX260, but that died in sympathy for the rest of the exiting components.
Initially I wanted to focus more on virtualized hardware acceleration, but I couldn't find any solid evidence of VT-d or IOMMU in use for playing games on VMs. Hopefully it'll be available by the next upgrade. That left me with getting a good bang-for-buck system and the Whirpool crowd seemed to have a good, solid build for gaming rigs. They advocated a Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H motherboard with the AMD Phenom II X4 955BE CPU. Hopefully enough for another 4 years?
Poking around I found that Gigabyte have a board that supports both USB3 and SATAIII. These will be essential in a couple of years time, so it's probably worth the gamble of getting a mobo with these features and no direct need at the moment. The Phenom seems solid enough, and I'm happy getting guaranteed quadcore for the virtualization.
So the build:
Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 motherboard
AMD Phenom II AM3 955 Black Edition (3.2Ghz) 64-Bit Quad-Core CPU
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 CPU Fan
G.Skill 4G(2x2G) DDR3 1600Mhz Memory
Any 1600Mhz memory would do as I'd rather have the headroom for mild air overclocking in the future. The TX3 is also to follow that path as well as a reaction to negative comments about the stock cooler. Personally I wouldn't pay more than $30 for cooling as you may as well spend that money getting a better chip in the first place. It does get pretty hot here sometimes though, so the TX3 is also an insurance for solid performance.
GA-770TA only has 1 PCIe x16 port, but I'd rather get a single card 1-2 steps off the top ala the 8800GTS and GTX260 when they first came out. It also had only 4 memory slots. I initially wanted 8Gb of RAM like my work box, but 2x2Gb will be fine until the 4Gb modules drop in price (1 year?).