Sorry if this question has already been covered in one of the build-your-own system articles, but I’m getting confused by some of the “build for the future” and “home use/gaming” categories. I need a new PC and am a typical home user – surf, office stuff, digital photo stuff (Adobe Photoshop). I’ve got a Dell Dimension Pentium III – I’ve added memory and an external hard drive but it’s struggling w/multitasking and I plan to let my 6-year-old twins use it for computer games. I want to build an adequate machine for my current needs, and hope to be able to afford a new machine in 3-4 years and wondered if my budget would allow for a “pre-gaming” machine – one that could handle the upgrades required for more complicated games (assuming that’s the direction the kids are headed) in the future. While a small, quiet, wireless machine would be ideal, the system’s longevity probably wins out – we’ve got lots of home remodeling projects coming up and this is more of a luxury than a necessity. I am REALLY trying to keep this effort under $800 if possible ( I have a few old monitors, keyboards & mice lying around). It also needs to be a fairly easy build – I’ve never done this before (but have taken systems apart and done repairs) -- and w/little kids I don’t have a lot of time to devote to tinkering... I think it's the motherboard issue that's confusing me the most -- I'm considering trying a RAID system, and don't know if I need to prepare for dual core CPU, capacity for loads of memory, multiple fans, etc. Any tips would be appreciated. If one of your previous builds fits the bill, could you provide me with the link? Thanks very much.
Pretty tough to really "future proof" an inexpensive build today for what you might want in 3 or 4 years. I guess some future proofing ingredients would be 64 bit computing, DirectX-9 compliant PCI Express video cards, and lots of memory!
Reading your post, I'd recommend an Athlon 64 3000 Venice core in a nice nForce4 board with a mid range PCI Express video card and a gig of memory. That setup should hold you quite nicely for a few years and the Venice core is very cool running so should be a fairly quiet rig.
And I agree with the other poster... why worry about RAID, go with a good single drive solution... I wouldn't buy a Raptor cause they are expensive and only 150 Gig... if $$$ are an issue get one of the new 16 meg cache 300 gig drives. Lots cheaper and nearly as fast.
You could put a box like that together for under $800 for the hardware.