Between the 2 the GT 220 is definitely the better option. Though it's still on the low end of modern gaming video cards.
HDTV need a lot less video card power than games do. The 210 is good for HTPCs but very weak for 3D gaming.
The GT 220 should be just about 'OK' in World of Warcraft on medium settings but it won't run the game well in the highest graphics and image quality settings. GT 220 benchmarked in World of Warcraft (note the ultra-high graphics settings)
The i5 is worth the extra money imo. What card you should get depends on your resolution and what power supply will be in the system.
I would also back-up what wa1 said. Building your own system is the way to go. It will end up with a cheaper and better system made from higher quality components. It is actually pretty easy to put a computer together. Mostly it involves putting things in slots, connecting cables and screwing things in. Basically if you can use a screw driver and follow instructions you can do it. The harder part is picking out the appropriate components for your situation/budget but that's what sites like this are for.
If going the 'build your own' route isn't for you the easiest route may be getting the basic i3 530 and adding an AMD HD 4670, HD 5670 or Nvidia GT 240 graphic card which are known to run World of Warcraft well. Those cards will run with the basic HP power supply and do a good job on WoW graphics with any monitor resolution below 1920x1080.
If you're looking out into the future and think you'll want to try more modern games it makes a lot of sense to plan for that now. That's when getting an upgraded system can will save you in the long run.
I really appreciate all your information. Thank you.
After taking it all in and a lot of consideration I really think the HP and Onkyo would not serve very well (or would be outdated quite quickly). One thing I want is to have high-end basics that will keep the PC usable for quite a few years and the one thing I DO NOT want is all that crap that the mainstream makers stick into their systems.
Hubby has built his own PC once before (but it was about 12 years ago) and he is pretty handy with things (I used to be pretty savvy in this area myself until he took over all things computer and I just fell behind with all the new technologies), so letting him spend a couple of months working out the components he wants and then putting it together might be a very good way to occupy time during our unbearable summer.
After listening to my moans about the pre-built PCs today, a girlfriend pointed me in the direction of the Dell Alienware line. I have to admit I had not looked at Dell as hubby's dead gaming notebook is a Dell and my very poor performing desktop is a Dell, as is my PC at work... so I have been less than impressed with them in the past and swore I would not buy one again. However, after picking my jaw up off the floor at the pricing, the Alienware desktops do seem to pack a punch so to say.
I noticed that (in Japan at least) the ATX came standard with the ATI 5870, which I read is supposed to be a very high-end card. A cheaper option was the GeForce GTX260, which was the required card for the 3D monitor (which might not even be worth it at this stage).
So I am a bit torn now on whether to go with that and just surprise him with it or suggest the build-your-own.
Do you have a self-built system? I am also interested to hear what cards everyone uses.
Thanks again for the information - my learning curve has been in a very steep ascent!
Knowing Alienware's reputation I was surprised to see the basic model came with a Core i5-530 CPU and HD 5670 graphics card. I was less surprised to see the price they wanted.
If you decide to go the DIY route you'd spend 20%~25 less based on using the advice from the TechReport's Spring 2010 system guide.
That guide explains the rationale for the choices and gives options at different price points.
And there is THG's Homebuilt Systems forum. You can watch others going through the same process. And ask for help getting your own DIY system organized and built.
Alienware computers can be good but the prices are simply ludicrous.
If your husband built a computer 12 years ago then this time around he will likely be surprised about how much easier it is. I build one every other year or so and every time they seem to have standardized something or tweaked something to make things easier. At this point there isn't anything in the process which I would consider even modestly tricky.
The first thing you need to figure out is your budget and whether or not you want an AMD or Intel system. The two best values for the money on either side at the moment are the Phenom II x4 955 or the i5-750 but if you have the money you may want to consider an i7-930. For an AMD system I'd go for the latest chipset which is the AM3 890GX. For the i5 you'll want an LGA 1156 motherboard, for i7 an LGA 1366. DDR3 is the standard these days, 4 gigs is fine unless you do something particularly ram intensive like video editing. The i7 chip is triple channel so in that case you'll probably want 6 gigs. What PSU you will want really depends on what video card you will be using and what card you'll want depends on how much you want to spend and the native resolution for your monitor. For a hard drive either the Samsung Spinpoint F3 or the Western Digital Caviar Black drives are generally considered the best around. That just leaves the case(mostly about aesthetics really) and maybe a few other things like a dvd burner or a wifi card. I don't know what the prices are like there but in the US you can spend as little as $500-600 and end up with a computer that is quite nice, even for gaming.