If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the monitor/display system is the big bottle neck in the office productivity computer. CPU, graphics card, motherboard are not really relevant anymore. Right?
I find my life has been made so much easier since I freed up a spare monitor at work and went dual monitor. Best thing I've ever done!
What sort of office work? Excel? Access? lots of apps at once?
My first thoughts would be a C2D E7200, a P43 motherboard, and the cheapest 2 head graphics card you can find. Anything like an X800 would be fine! pop in a Corsair CX400 and 2/4 GB of RAM (depending on apps).
Excluding monitors $600 TO $1,000. Flexible on the monitor pricing but looking for value in the performance department.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
Writing, surfing, spreadsheet, SSH, FTP, graphics editing, text editor, music player and all can be running and open at the same time.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
Have good speakers but otherwise open to new parts.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS:
Prefer Newegg but local stores OK.
Not preferential to any brand
Maybe, if there is a meaningful performance gain
Currently running 1280x1024 at 100dpi but would prefer more real estate with higher dpi.
Sometimes I have 7+ applications open at once. Firefox can easily have a dozen or so tabs.
Load and save times are annoying. Application switching times are also annoying. Image quality is very important.
Always enjoy reading TH system suggestions for gaming but I spend 99% of my computing time (as do the bulk of PC users) doing office work.
However, I find a dearth of the same sort of analysis being done on power office system computers.
Thanks for the recommendations. Prices on Newegg are fairly modest. Is this then as good as it gets in the value department as opposed to low price?
I'm not sure I understand your question about the 'value/low price' thing. I tend to view a low-priced 'Tier1' motherboard (let's say Gigabyte or Asus) as the most critical selection. They will 'generally' support the mobo with BIOS updates and any bug fixes, and offer peripheral options such as eSATA, firewire, bunches of USB, HD audio, etc., at a very competitive price.
A 3GHz+ dual core processor will have all the necessary horsepower to fly through your tasks. For your needs a cpu/mobo combo in the $125-$150 range just works really well, and frees up a little cash for the important things: RAMs & disk I/O. This is critical for your 'multitasking and productivity' as well as the dual monitors.
Get on the Egg 'eBlast email' list --- from time to time you will see some good stuff. Always check the 'combo deals,' 'Shellshockers' and look for free or reduced shipping. As an example, here is a WD 'Blue' 640 Gb hard drive that is $60 with code EMCYZNN25 from a recent Egg promotion.
Be certain to purchase a 'Gen2' SSD for your OS/Apps such as this OCZ Agility 60Gb. Gen2 devices provide support for TRIM (which prevents performance degradation over time).
Partition your storage drive and 'clone' a recovery of your OS/Apps SSD when you have all your programs, settings, drivers, etc., in place
With the inclusion of your monitors you are on track to come in under $1k with a rig that will run as well as any for your tasks. 6 Gb of RAMs will run no more than $150. I prefer to choose memory which the mobo vendor has tested (look for 'QVL' lists) but that is not always required.
I use an 8 Gb thumb drive to back up the 'Hot Files' each day (the 'Patriot' is around $25). I then copy the files off the drive to a back-up drive at home. (I also keep an updated back-up of the back-up of my OS/Apps drive just in case of a catastrophic loss at the office.)
Once again, sometimes bad *** just happens. You need to be prepared to get your 'office' up and running quickly in the event of serious problems.