Hey thanks for all the help guys (especially mgold
thanks for the research). I went to my store and got a list of things that the technicians recommended, I'll list them here if you have any more suggestions. I made sure to get an unsophisticated-looking case =p
Video - ATI FireGL V5000 (supposedly great for OpenGL rendering)
Motherboard - MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum SLI (i want the SLI just in case, for later on)
HD - Western Digital 36 GB SATA (10000 RPM, will hold the boot programs)
HD2 - Maxtor 300GB SATA (16 MB Cache, for my models/data)
Processor - AMD Athlon 64 FX55
Memory - 2GB Corsair DDR
Then slap on a few compatible fans (Zalman), drives, monitor and case and I got myself a computer. It actually went a few $100 over, but it's not a problem for the power I'd be getting.
Hm and by the way I learned a lot, but I'd still consider myself a dummy when it comes to hardware, so still looking for advice. I'll probably end up visiting the store again tomorrow.