As many of you know, my old AMD 2800+ system popped a vessel  approximately two weeks ago and a friend suggested I post a request for donations to help fund the purchase of new equipment. The response was great and we raised over 200 USD in 3 days. I sent out little 'thank you' notes as well as posting publically, and I received some heart-warming responses. I was very honored by the kind words, so thank you for those as well. The community surrounding Linux and open source software is an unique environment that most windows users can not fathom. I've always believed the community was the core foundation of oss and that's the ingredient windows will never be able to duplicate. It's their missing puzzle piece.
I purchased an Asus A8V motherboard, AMD 64 3700+ and 1 gig of Kingston HyperX DDR400 memory for a final pricetag with shipping of $439 (donations still accepted). This system is no where near bleeding edge, but my resources are less than they once were and the prices of processors have gone through the roof (or so it seems to me). That motherboard was one of the fastest in its day and got very good reviews. So far, I'm pleased with the set up. It's not noticably faster in the gui, but compile times are greatly reduced. However, the most important thing is the stability. So far the system seems rock solid. I have no cpu errors in the logs and have experienced no lock-ups or application crashes on my main gentoo system. The first symptoms that the old rig was going bad were lock-ups and logs full of hardware errors.
I used the heatsink and fan supplied with the processor and I must say, they sure are making those things easier to install these days. After assembly, I felt that familiar little tug of trepidation as I flipped the power supply switch on and reached for the power-on button. Thankfully, it fired up first try.
The first screen I saw was a pretty splash screen, that I turned off as I like to see the output. However, I might as well leave the pretty splash on as the post flies by so fast I can barely see the drives detected, let alone anything else. I'm running the system with the bios defaults. Or more precisely put, I'm letting it auto-detect voltages, multipliers, bus and clock speeds, and the rest. I disabled the on-board lan and sound for now, but I did compile support for them into my newest kernel. At the time of assembly, I wasn't sure they'd be supported and I didn't want to have to crack the case back open to put in a nic and sound card. So for now I just went with what I knew would work. I will test the new on-board components in a few days.
I'm running the same 32 bit gentoo system that I installed 15/16 months ago, except the first thing I did was compile up gentoo's 126.96.36.199 kernel sources. I changed the platform for it to K8 and set some of the faster options I've been too conservative to do in the past. Those include timer frequency of 1000 HZ and I went with Voluntary Kernel Preemption. Then I changed my boot splash from Aqua Matrix  to Gentoo's cool 2006.0 livecd splash .
The next thing I did was compile KDE 3.5.2. I compiled up kdeaddons, kdeartwork, kdegames, kdelibs, kdenetwork, kdeutils, kdeadmin, kdebase, kdegraphics, kdemultimedia, and kdepim in less than 4 hours. That's roughly little over 1/2 the time of my old setup. These time estimates are very rough though.
So, despite Atang's sound advice , I did heat up the new processor the first night to 46 degrees for about 4 hours. It runs at 39 degrees Celcius at idle. Although if this one is like all the other cpus I've had in the past, it will probably stablize at about 5 degrees warmer when it becomes broken in.
At this time we are downloading beta 9 of suse 10.1 and we will carry on with the business of loading up Linux distributions and software, and reporting what we see. Thanks to all who contributed to our hardware drive and as stated, donations are still being gratefully accepted  to help pay the remainder of the bill.