All I know so far is that I want a 64-bit PC with at least 2 and more likely 4 cores. My main use will be data analysis, but it would be nice to have a machine that can play Civ4 with all of the effects turned on while crunching numbers in the background ;-)
I'm thinking of starting from Ars Technica's Hot Rod system and adding RAM. Do any of you more hardware savvy folks have advice beyond this? I am a bit antsy about throwing down 2k after only a weekend of research, but I need to have this system up and running in the next week so I can get back to real work.
Also, if any of you know of a good pre-built manufacturer that is cheaper than Alienware, I'm interested. When I last looked at this sort of thing 5 years ago, Dell Business was exactly what I wanted, but the customization screen pissed me off by not letting me de-select all of the crap they pre-install and not giving me enough RAM options.