Obviously, if ya gonna do professional work at home, R&D, VM & Server stuff, ya gotta keep and industry std Intel P4 business(lo spec component) box around, but
an A7n8x with 2500+ or even 1700+(bumped up abit) has a WHOLE LOT of real thruput that will whip about any Corporate P4 business box...
I would immagine a 2800+ or 3000+ does even better!!!
And with any AthlonXp runnin DDR33 at 166+ with a gig of memory,
makes SQL Server Flat Out FAST!!! A7n's run SqlServer Real Well...
I got some IBM buddies that say those AMD boxes i use just aint fair!
Would online shopping be an option for you? You didn't list prices, but the savings would probably offset the shipping charges given the small selection you have available locally. Where are you located, roughly?
That said, the A7N8x is going to be your best bet of the choices given in the bang-for-the-buck ratio. The small performance gain you'll get with a high-end Intel system will only be appreciated if the extra price is of little concern to you. I, for one, am on a budget (my fiance' insists - lol). However, the AMD XP 2500 I picked up is running the same speed as a 3000 at stock voltages - totally stable. I like the idea of saving $200 on my CPU alone (compared to a 400 MHz FSB 3000+). Even if you're not comfortable with the idea of overclocking, AMD is still going to save you quite a bit of cash over Intel. Does this mean there's anything "wrong" with AMD? Absolutely not. They make excellent chips but are just slightly behind Intel in the performance wars overall.
Back to the mobos, Stick to the nVidia chipset boards, preferrably the ASUS or MSI, as they are consistantly tops in the benchmarks & reviews. Browse through the articles here on Tom's and get some decent (fairly objective) opinions for yourself, and then delve into the forums again to cross-check them with others. I have several links on my site (below) that you can use to check the manufacturer's sites, among other places.
Sorry, I know it's more info than you asked for, but that's better than too little... :wink: