SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:Gaming, movies,
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS , kb/mouse, monitor case, PSU 400w Eagle DR B400 ATX
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S)FOR PARTS: here lies the problem, I am based in Japan, so none of the famous US/EU sites are relevant - I am just looking for a general guide with as many examples as possible.
PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD cpu (unless someone shows me that Intel are good value at the lower price ranges)
OVERCLOCKING:I doubt it
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: The ability to run SLI/crossfire would be nice later, but at this price range I am not expecting to have that feature
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have a big tower case, lots of spare fans so cooling should be easy - if I am really making problems for myself by wanting to use my current PSU, then I will just wait till next pay day, spend $200 extra and buy a nice system based around a new PSU. Oh and I don't need a huge HDD - I have 4xUSB drives with about 2TB and just need a small HDD for the system, for my OS and installs.
Wow, that PSU is a real show stopper. Here's the problem, it only has 1 20 pin connecter for the mobo and most modern boards need the 20+4. That and if use an older/low power mobo, then you're PSU probably won't have enough to power (amperage on the 12v rail) a GPU like the 4670. So you'll either have to incorporate the PSU into the intial build or you'll end up with a bottle neck somewhere when you can take the next $200 and upgrade something else. But lets see what we can come up with.
The route I would go at least a tri core like the 720 (since you're not OC) with a 920 or 940 quad core in mind if you can afford it. If you're not overclocking, the stock heat sink fan will be enough. $120-190 US
Get at least a 780G mobo but a 790gx should be with-in reach so go for that first.
Gigabyte 790GX $115 US
Get ram that matches the mobo, you've read the forums and know the prefered manufactures. 4 gigs $45US
Hard drive 320 gig $50 US
550w-700w PSU from a quality name $60-100 US (This is very important if you're looking for Crossfire possibilities. The 4850 and the 4870 needs 550w. The 4890 list it only needs a 600w PSU on the ATI/AMD site, but it has to be a quality PSU) Here's the CERTIFIED list. There are other good PSU that will do the job that are not on that list, but its a good starting point. http://ati.amd.com/online/certifiedpsu/index.html
That leaves about $100 US on the upper end of your budget for a ATI based GPU. The 4850 will be way more than enough for a 1400x900 monitor and if you upgrade the monitor later, a second 4850 will do well through 1900x1080.
Since this looks like everything you'd need, you can use that next $200 for a better monitor or something else, games, Hampster, or a telescope. So depending on the deals you can get, try for that AMD 720 with a good 790GX board (make sure it has 2 PCIe X16 2.0 slots) and you should be able to do the full upgrade now. Or if the game playing can wait till you're next paycheck, then just use the on board graphics for the net and movies or whatever else you use your comp for and get the 940 now. Then buy the vid card when you that check comes in. That will also allow you to get a better card like the 4870 1gb or 4890 which will better position you for crossfire when you have a better monitor.
Thanks and yes it does help, in fact it confirms what I thought but didn't want to accept.
A 720 and a 4850 is a combination I have been considering.
The motherboard is a difficult choice because although there are cheap AM2+ boards available, the price for a decent 790 AM2+ board is only a little cheaper than for a AM3 board, and DDR3 is not that much more expensive than fast DDR2 now.
I did find a dirt cheap AM3 board in a local store today - 2 PCIx16 slots, takes either DDR2 or DDR3 made by Jetway - I had not heard of them before, and have more experience with gigabyte and asus.
Never had a Jetway board either. Its middle of the road from what my perception is. Like a foxconn or biostar. To be completely honest, if you're not going to be overclocking, that board should be fine. Especially if you have a local shop you can return it to if it is DoA. And is this the board? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The only snag I see is the ram is capped at 4gigs for either kind. You won't be able to use 4 gigs ddr3 and 4 gigs ddr2. If you ever get into video editing, this isn't the board for you. Read the reviews that are there, might help the decision making process. And if the board is cheap enough where you can step up to the quad, might also be worth it.
Going with DDR3 on the mobo is based on what you're budget can swing. Performance won't be a huge increase, but may help with the future proofing a little and get more on the back end life of the system.