Well, you can get an amazing PC for that price, but given what you do, you may still have no practical need for the $1000 CPU's and uber-high-end graphics setup. Nevertheless, you can still get a very nice computer.
Case: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP - This is a very nice, very elegant, and well designed case. This is big enough for all of your components. You will, however, pay out the nose with shipping. $199
Motherboard: MSI 890FXA-GD70 AM3 AMD 890FX - This is a high-end motherboard with AMD's flagship chipset. This allows for AM3 CPU's, DDR3-1333, and allows for Crossfire. $199 (Before $20 mail-in rebate)
Graphics Card: HIS H687F1G2M Radeon HD 6870 (Two of these) - I suggest two of these cards in a Crossfire setup. These cards are not the high-end cards, but they come very close for about $100 less per card. These cards perform between the Radeon 5850 and 5870 in terms of performance and can very easily handle all new games. If you still want one of the best, and pay more for it, you can also get the HIS H587FN1GD Radeon HD 5870 1GB. $479 ($239 times two cards)
Power Supply: Sparkle Computer Corp GOLD CLASS SCC-750AF 750W - Sparkle Computer Corp., not to be confused with Sparkle Power, is fairly new to the power supply scene, but their PSU's get high marks and are quality components. This PSU can easily handle two high-end graphics cards in a Crossfire setup. $149
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz - This is AMD's flagship six-core CPU. There is a valid, I think, reason for this CPU. You referenced Poser Pro, Maya 3D, Houdini, Cinema 4D, and Cobalt above. Some of those programs should use more than four cores, and if they are anything like Handbrake, may favor actual physical cores over hyperthreading. You could go for one of Intel's high-end six core CPU's, but those are far more expensive than this and will severely hit your budget of $2000. This does seem like a great alternative, balancing value and performance. As this is a Black Edition CPU, it is unlocked allowing for easy overclocking. $229
Memory: Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (Four of these) - Again, you referenced rendering applications, which probably uses loads of memory. Therefore, I suggest maxing out your RAM at 16GB. $239 ($59 times four sticks)
Hard Drive One: Corsair Force CSSD-F120GB2-BRKT 2.5" 120GB - This is an SSD you use to install the OS and all of your frequently applications. $219
Hard Drive Two: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6402AAEX 640GB - This is your data drive where you keep pictures, movies, music, etc. $69
Optical Drive: HP Multiformat DVD writer Black SATA Model 1260I-H06 - This is a baisc DVD drive. If you want something that will burn and read Blu-Ray disc's too, the LG WH10LS30K is also a good, but more expensive, drive. $19
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM - You need this. $94
Grand Total: $1,903 (Before shipping and rebates)
Okay, now this is really nice - I love this case. Design is aesthetically beautiful, and it looks to be very efficiently laid out. I love the exterior "rails" on this.Motherboard:
Oh, nice mobo! With the above case, that's a total of 6 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 USB 3.0 ports. IMO, you can never have enough USB ports. (I'm a peripherals freak, so USB ports are important to me!) It looks to be something that will be extremely usable for a quite a few years to come, too.Graphics Card:
I know I asked this in another post, but I'm not really clear on what a Crossfire setup is. As for needing the higher end cards, I don't think so. I don't do much animation; 99% of my 3D work is still imaging. And I'm not a high-end gamer. I don't watch a lot of movies on my computer, and don't need really high-end graphics for that, because I have a HD television. If I'm reading this correctly, these are like "mid-high" range in performance, which is more than sufficient for my purposes.Power Supply:
Nice! I've never used a PSU that allows me to have only the cables that I need - all of the PSUs that I've used come with the cables already connected internally, which leaves me with all this free-hanging cables inside the case that just get in the way when I need to do something in there.CPU:
Nice - I've always loved AMD processors. Intel makes nice stuff, but they're so d*mned pricey. I'm interested in more info on overclocking - it's something I've always been a little bit afraid of, but I'd like to know what the advantages/disadvantages might be.Memory:
I'm not familiar with this brand - I've always used Corsair RAM sticks. Is there a difference in performance between the two, or is it more just a price consideration? And yes, I plan to max out the memory. Rendering is a memory-hogging process.Hard Drive One:
I'll probably need to go with a slightly bigger drive for the OS and applications. I have a 230 GB drive now for the OS and apps; I have all of my applications installed, nothing else on the drive, and I've used 121 GB of space. Hard Drive Two:
I've always been happy with WD drives - I still have an 80 GB IDE WD drive that I use for archiving old files, etc., that I don't want to lose. That drive is at least six years old, and it's still going strong.Optical Drive:
I need to think about this one. I have a nice little Asus LightScribe DVD burner in this machine, old enough that it's an IDE drive, but it still does a nice job for me. I just might go for the Blu-Ray drive, though I'm not 100% on that. I don't burn a lot of movies, so it seems kind of pointless, really. Most of the burning I do is for data. I truly don't pirate material anymore!Operating System:
This I already have - I have Windows 7 Pro version, purchased retail.
Really, really nice build, DJB. I'm extremely taken with the case - that's just a beautiful design. Some of the guys here might think this is silly, but... Between the mobo, with its blue connectors, the PSU with its purple and pink "bits" showing, and the graphics cards with the red fans, it also satisfies my need for pretty colors. Every time I find myself opening the case for cleaning, I'll see all those pretty colors in there, and smile. It's a girl thing, what can I say?
I probably won't be building this until after the holidays - there's just too much going on at this time of year. It will be like a late Christmas present to myself.
As I get responses, I'll make some decisions, probably ask for more advice, and then post my final choices. Thank you for your input here. It's much appreciated.
Oh, and by the way... Now that I've decided to do this, my daughter (ten years old), is every bit as excited as I am. She thinks she's going to "inherit" this box. NOT! I did decide, though, that I'll give her my laptop - she really should have her own computer for school, etc. Though, that means I'll have to be so much more vigilant with her - right now, I pretty much know everything she does online, since she does it on my machine. At any rate, my building a new computer means that she'll get her own, so all of you who give me input here, just know that you're also helping me make a little ten-year-old girl very happy!