Alright, I'll make this sweet and to the point: I have a home-grown system that I've maintained for a while, but I'm at the edge of a massive upgrade. Here's a break down of my system:
Athlon XP 3000+
Gigabyte motherboard (forgot what model)
1 GB (2x512) of DDR 400 RAM from Mushkin
1 80 GB ATA/100 7200 HD
1 120 GB ATA/100 7200 HD
2 250 GB SATA/150 7200 HDs
BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC AGP Grfxcard
Antech 480 Watt power supply
Plextor Plexwriter IDE CD-R/W
Sony IDE DVD-ROM
Okay, that's pretty much all the pertinent information. Anyways, as you can see, I am way behind the times, but that's never bothered me, while my uber friends tend to struggle with the new tech, I tend to be happy with my lesser tech but much more stable box. That's the key word: STABLE. That said, I really feel like upgrading to PCI-Express, and am sold on the Intel Duo Core chip and a Nvidia Grfxcard (just one). However, I am at a loss as to what motherboard to purchase, they say the 680i is great but plagued with stability issues. The other chipsets seem to have thrown IDE under the bus, which would require my replacing over half of my components. Can I get any advice from the experts? Anything will help, if you say trash the entire box, I'll take that into consideration.
It depends how much you want to spend. Most new boards only have one IDE channel so you'd have to toss a couple IDE devices. Some have two though.
So what's your budget? If it's low you could get something like the 775Dual board which would let you use your old RAM. But I get the impression you're not restricted by budget.
So I'd say get:
Asus P5N-E SLi or Asus P5W DH Deluxe (more expensive but has fancy stuffs)
Core 2 e6600
8800 GTS 320mb or 7900GS if the 8800 is too expensive
2x1GB DDR2-533 (if you're not overclocking. If you are, get 800)
Those boards have 2 IDE channels so you could use all your old devices. But another choice is to get a good board with only one IDE channel like the Gigabyte 965P/G DS3 and buy a DVDRW for like $30 that'd replace your two optical drives.
Whats your upgrade budget? The only things in your current pc worth keeping are the optical drives, HDD's, the sound card, and possibly the psu, depending on the model and which gfx card you end up getting.
Most, pretty much all, current chipsets still support IDE, its the IDE hdd's that arent supported. Although that can be solved by getting a PCI hdd controller card for IDE drives.
The 680i chipset is good, but not one of my favorites. I would rather get a 975X or P965 based board, but thats just me. Most of the problems with the 680i based mobos have been resolved by know, i wouldnt worry about it.
Ah yes, budget, I forgot to include that. To give you an idea, I had picked out the following:
GeForce 8800 GTS ($400)
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 ($318)
Cosair XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 ($370)
Total Cost so far: $1088
Those are the prices last time I checked, might have gone down since. I'll probably throw in another hard drive so I can get rid of the IDE hard drives. For mobo, I'm looking for somthing less than $200, around the $100 - $150 range. Again, I was "window shopping" so I'm pretty sure these are good buys, but I could be erroneous in the compatibility or capabilities of these parts. After all, I'm an enthusiast, not an expert!
Ahha, a fellow Canadian. Good choices, though the RAM is unnecessarily expensive, especially if you're overclocking. You can get good DDR2-800 RAM for around $250 our dollars. If you're not overclocking, you can get even cheaper RAM without really seeing a performance difference.
For the board, it's kinda important to know if you intend to overclock.
I'm really iffy about going over to Vista, I probably won't switch over anytime soon. As for the type of games, the most demanding game that I have so far is FEAR and NFS: Most Wanted. I play a mix of games, but getting them to run at super-highest-maximum-ultra level is not that important for me, though I do want to be able to bump up my settings with the upgrade. My settings usually consist of AA 2x or 4x, med to med-high settings, and resolution at 1280 x 1024.