Well that's something hard to ensure. In general the faster the CPU the faster your aplications will work, but IMO it's hard to say which is the hot spot, just spend the amount you feel fair between $150-$300. TBH you can't beat the Q6600 in price/performance, but up to $300 you probably get what you pay for, I dunno really. I did decided to go with the Q6600 myself recently, if that helps you. When it comes to gaming is even more difficult, but apparently none of the announced games look like they will be more demanding than Crysis (they lack it's features and fidelity), at least if they are properly optimized, so probably anything that runs Crysis at the settings you desire will probably play well any game at least until the end of 2009. That includes the GTX260 and HD4870 IMHO. All in all you are going to buy in one of the better (yet highly convoluted) times in the history of PCs. Never in history you were able to buy so much for so few. And even though faster parts can be released soon (as always happens) whatever you buy now won't get outdated anytime soon, providing it's fast enogh for today standards.