I'd go with the 955, especially if he can OC. This thing is insanely fast for 3d applications, and apparently it beats a 920. As far as mobo, I think newegg still has an open box M4A79T deluxe for $135.
I forgot to add a video card in there, so I have to change some stuff to make it affordable for the 955 and mobo.
edit: Scratch that, I re-read the program names. Nothing like CATIA (3D Modeling) nor VR (EON Reality)? He could probably use an nVidia Quadro FX1800. However, he won't get very far with that in his major. $1k is EXTREMELY limited. You're looking at at least $3k for a decent build.
So he can't get a decent one to get by for now? Better parts means faster rendering right?
Originally Posted by foothead
ATI FireGL seems to be really good for workstations.