Since I'm using the system to run the Wine conformance tests under Valgrind, which takes three hours, I decided to get something even faster. The tests I run are currently not parallelized, so quad core would be a waste; dual core is probably more appropriate. John Reiser pointed me to an Ars review that recommended the e8400 CPU. I'm willing to pay an extra $60 for twice the cache and a bit higher CPU speed...
So I bought an e8400 cpu and compared the e7200 and e8400, both in the same system, on the 'valgrind wine test suite with -j2' task. Results: e8400 is 18% faster than the e7200 (83 minutes vs. 99 minutes).
And, to see if faster RAM would do anything, I tried two different kinds of RAM, both from Mushkin: 2GB 5-4-4-12 PC-6400 and 2GB 5-5-5-15 PC-8500 There was no noticable difference in build speed. Evidently you just need RAM fast enough so the CPU runs at all. (And since I don't overclock, I have no reason to buy extra-fast RAM.) (Worse, the PC-8500 RAM itself seemed to cause occasional crashes, it may have been a bad stick.)
The motherboard I bought last time is no longer available, so I went shopping again. This time I decided to go for one with no onboard graphics. Searching on newegg until I found one with good reviews and with a chance of working under linux, I settled on ASUS P5K PRO; newegg lists it for $105. Its network chip is the Marvell 88E8056 -- same as the other motherboard.
For a video card, I searched on newegg again for one with 512MB of RAM, GeForce 7 or higher, good ratings, and cheap; best match seemed to be PNY 8500 GT 512MB PCIe; newegg lists it for for $55.
I also got two more sticks of the nice 5-4-4-12 RAM, a 1TB GP hard drive, and the same case. Total price, including shipping: $552.
memtest86 reports: L1 cache 64K 49,181 MB/s, Memory 1982M 19608 MB/s
phoronix-test-suite benchmark jonas-18272-27994-11746reports
System Hardware: Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q9300 @ 2.49GHz (Total Cores: 4), Motherboard: ECS GF7100/7050PVT-M3, Chipset: nVidia nForce 630i, System Memory: 3023MB, Disk: 500GB WDC WD5000AACS-0, Graphics: GeForce 8500 GT 512MB (450/400MHz) System Software: OS: Ubuntu 9.10, Kernel: 2.6.31-14-generic (i686), Desktop: GNOME 2.28.1, Display Server: X.Org Server 1.6.4, OpenGL: 3.0.0 NVIDIA 185.18.36, Compiler: GCC 4.4.1, File-System: ext2/ext3, Screen Resolution: 1280x1024 Results Overview: Timed Linux Kernel Compilation dank-q9300-3gb-1 690 seconds(Compared to 328 seconds on Jonas' i7 920.)