|Odd, I'd thought the opteron would have been the choice. Processors don't burn out if they are properly cooled by a supported cooling device.|
There are plenty of tests out there posted.
You should use a compiled from sources distro for such a use.
Use only the minimum that is needed for your tasks. Look at Gentoo for the fastest distro built for your machine and processor.
"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, are in my top 10