I bet this gets asked a lot here but here goes and thanks for any responses. I am not as knowledgeable these days on latest computer HW as I once was. My goal is a budget system with an approximately $700 limit, relatively green within reason, able to do at least modest gaming (say 1024x768 fairly easily with hopefully most bells and whistles enabled), and hopefully overall be a noticeable improvement to my current P4 2.26ghz/Radeon 9800 Pro system. I already have monitor, speakers, kb, mouse. I don't plan on overclocking. Everything from Newegg.
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W) $109: Was rated at Toms as one of the better price/performance CPUs. Hopefully a noticeable improvement over my P4 2.26ghz. Hopefully dual core might make a difference in such things I do such as video encoding and winrar.
MB: GIGABYTE GA-M55SLI-S4 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX, $89: Don't know much about good mbs this day but this has good reviews. Comes with 2 PATA conns for four devices so could run one of my old hard drives as well as the DVD rom and four SATA with two SATA cables. If better available within the price, please advise. I won't use any RAID features. Hopefully onboard audio will be sufficient.
Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400), $107. Will be running XP for now so thought 1 Gig will be enough. Picked this out of the ratings, don't know if can do better.
Video Card: EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16, $110. Tom said 7600 GT the best for $120. I just picked this one out. Can I do better? Is this a very cheaply constructed 7600GT card? Is this powerful enough for modest gaming and will be better then my 9800 Pro? One important criteria is I would pay more for a better fan that was less noisy and might last longer. I looked at a fanless 7600 GT video card for somewhat more money but it looked gigantic in size.
Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar T7K500 HDT725032VLA360 (0A33435) 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s, $80. Picked this out as Toms said this is a good all around hard drive. Certainly big enough for me to start with, eventually would probably buy an external for data storage.
DVD ROM: NEC Black 18X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 18X DVD-R....., $31. I just picked out one out. Aren't they all pretty much the same these days? I would pay more or pick another if I had reason to believe it would burn DVDs that tend to be more compatible with home players or burn audio cds that would tend to be more compatible with regular cd players.
Case/Ps: RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP Black SECC STEEL ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply, $90. I just picked this out mostly due to price and user reviews and it seems PS is ample enough. Has a big fan in the side which I wonder if I need. As I stated I do not plan to overclock and am tired of fans going noisy on me. If I can do better please let me know.
Total Price before shipping: $616 but there is $40 in rebates that I did not include in the price. Thank you all for hopefully some responses and critique.
Thank you akhilles. You guys do make a good point and when I think about, my current system is a good example. Thru the life of this system, I've had three video cards, the Rage Pro, the GeTi4200 and lastly the 9800 Pro yet kept the same CPU because upgrade with same mb would have been minor and require different memory and for something more substantial would require new mb as well as memory so not worth it. So probably is better to maximize expenditure on the cpu. I wonder if I were to buy a Intel Core 2 CPU (probably E6300 or E6400) vs. an AMD slot am2 system, which would bode me well for future cpu upgrades under the same mb/mem configuration?
At the moment, c2d mobo has a bit of advantage in that it supports all socket 775 cpus from celly-d, p4, p-d (x2), p-ee (x2 high speed), xeon (x2 server), c2d (x2), c2e (x2 high speed) & c2q (x4) from 90nm to 65nm processes. All of these chips HAVE been out. Pricec cuts are coming in a few months. 45nm is coming soon.
AM2 can run Sempron, A64, A64 X2, A64 FX & Opty from 90nm to 65nm right now. 45nm will be out later than Intel's. 65nm chips have JUST been out. No real X4 chips yet. 4X4 is just an expensive excuse to use 2 x2 chips on the same mobo. AMD says AM3 cpus will run on AM2 mobos.