APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: two weeks to a month
BUDGET RANGE: $200-$250, maybe $300, depends on what I sell my laptop for on CL
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 25-50 tabs of Firefox at a time, Office 2007 apps, GTA San Andreas and Vice City, maybe GTA IV on low settings
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: optical, HD, keyboard, mouse, speakers, memory, display, OS (I'm keeping XP for now)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Egg
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: AM3 processor, motherboard capable of re-using my 3GB of PC2-5300 memory, at least one PCI Express 2.0x16 slot, mid-tower case
OVERCLOCKING: doubtful but I might try 5-15% speed increase if it is stable with stock cooling
SLI/Crossfire: even more doubtful, in fact on-board video is fine if it's ATI
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Just want to get out of the restrictive case and into something more upgrade-friendly. Prefer a MB that can use that new Athlon II X4 620 $99 processor with AM3 socket, cheap quad core comparable to a $149 Q8200. Will eventually be using a HD4870 512MB card from my wife's computer when she upgrades to Crossfire and a better PSU to handle it next year, and I'll get her 700W Ultra PSU at that time to go with the card.
Here's the idea I had. Keep all the goodies from this box I have and upgrade only the case, power supply, motherboard, and CPU. I chose these parts and got it down to $220:
"Given its name, one might assume that the Radeon HD 4200 (785G) is superior to the Radeon HD 3300 (790GX), which is not the case when it comes to gaming. The 790GX is clocked at 700 MHz, while the 785G is clocked at 500 MHz. And with everything else being pretty much equal, the 790GX is, of course, notably faster."
I did find a combo with that ASUS motherboard and a Athlon II X4 630 processor. Only $6 more than the one I was looking at, and a little clock speed boost over the 620. I'm not sure it'll be much better, but at least it's a better set of reviews.
$245 shipped with the ASUS/IIX4 630 combo above, very close to where I was, and certainly higher quality. I think I found my deal. Thanks for reminding me about Antec's deals, I forgot they have some cheaper cases and PSU's that will still be reliable.
I'm off to get my Acer 5920-6864 laptop sold to finance it! CL, here I come!
EDIT: bah, hold up. the microATX board isn't going to work in the VSK case...crap...well, back to looking again...
EDIT3: or screw it, buy this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... at OfficeMax Black Friday, and sell the working eMachines box to buy a better video card and PSU, then upgrade to the II X4 CPU later. And that gets me into Windows 7 on the cheap as well. It's a Compaq, how difficult are they with CPU upgrades? I know Dell's are hard but possible.
Compaq is an HP, so I'd say it should be fine. Just limited by the motherboard and not any artificial restrictions. Though that thing is a NVIDIA nForce MCP61 Chipset. Which is the low end of AM2+~ish motherboards. I've got one with that and it does run, though I wouldn't personally run anything higher than a AM2 in it because of a supposed slowdown of HyperTransport.