I'm building a computer for my roommate that fits within his $500 budget. He's not really a gamer but will probably watch HD movies on this. He already has all the other components so this is all I would need. I figure the AMD chip is a decent midlevel that will last atleast two years as well. All input will help! Thank you.
I don't think you can do much wrong with that setup.
I built a very similar rig. I have the GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard. It is excellent especially if there is no need for over the top graphics. The integrated 4200 will easily handle DVD palyback and does fine with all my old school games. The ALC 892 provides great HD dolby sound 5.1/7.1. The audio utility that Gigabyte includes also allows quite a bit of flexibility. USB3 and the Sata3 will stretch the longevity of the board.
A few differences that I have. I used my old parallel DVD/CD burner. Most people don't need two legacy PCI slots, but I have used both. One for my D-link wireless and one for my ancient Hauppauge TV/FM tuner. The D-link is also from my previous build and the tuner is from my Celeron 400 build 12 years ago!
I am using 4G Kingston HyperX. I think the G.SKILL Ripjaws are equal if not better.
1TB Seagate 32MB dual boot with XP and Ubuntu
Old 12yr old full ATX case
400W power, which is plenty for this build.
Processor - Now this may be an area of more consideration. I went after Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition (C3 revision). 3.2 Ghz at stock speed. I downloaded what was at the time a beta bios revision. Voila! The X2 became X4 and easily overclockable to 3.6 Ghz. Leaving at X2 allowed for 3.8Ghz. This is without touching CPU voltage and with the measly 400WPS. Not that your roommate will need this added headroom, but its nice to know it is possible. Granted the core unlock is a bit of a crap shoot, but many have had great success with the C3 revision Black addition in both X2 and X3 flavours. If you can, shoot for the revision 2 board, as it has hardware supported core unlocking. The revision 1 board, which I have, is just a bios tweak.
I am going through contortions getting the ALC892 working properly with Ubuntu, but such is the Linux world in many cases with very new hardware. Everything is easy in Windows.
On a side note, the passive heat sinks get pretty darn hot (hot enough to be painful to the touch), so make sure the case fans provide good circulation over them. I am actually thinking of adding fans/heat sinks in place of the passive bits. I don't its really needed though unless you plan to over clock.
1. Not a gamer why the overpriced 8/8 890GX? Hit a 880G
2. Use savings to get more CPU power (if u deem worth it for his usage patterns)
3. Negative on PSU bundled with case @@ Hit an 80+ certified one