This is a system I'm considering buying. I'm financially strapped so I can't go for much more. I've never built a computer for myself, and am mostly looking to get going quickly (which I realize runs a bit counter to my desire to also get going cheaply). My current system is about 6 years old (40GB hard drive, AGP graphics, can't run SSE2), and I'm mostly looking for a cheap solution that updates me to the last couple of years at least!
I'm a gamer. I'm upgrading because I simply can't run certain recent games at all, or the performance is dismal even on low settings. I don't expect or need to run Crysis on high graphics (or at all). I'd like to be able to run most new games on at least low or medium settings without trouble, including some FPS games (I struggle with but often attempt to play games like Left4Dead2 =).
I'd expect to add a video card. From what knowledge and experience I do have I'm worried that adding something reasonable might overload the 300W power supply, but I really don't how much I should be worried about that. I'd like/expect to spend about $50-$100 on a video card here.
I have an existing VGA monitor (Samsung Syncmaster 955DF) I'd like to keep using for the time being. I may upgrade in the future but for now I'd like to avoid that cost. (I know it's hardly a great monitor, but alas.) Ideally any video card would support this, and I'm guessing this monitor limits to how good of a video card I should bother getting, keeping in mind I'd probably the monitor within the a year.
I'm a bit flexible with price, but the difference between about $500 and $800 is pretty important to me. If I'm convinced another one or two hundred dollars makes or breaks the deal, so be it, but I'd like to keep it cheap.
I'm certainly willing to listen to other kinds of recommendations. I know there's probably lots of stuff I don't know.
At the low budget range you are in, an AMD system should get you more peformance for your $. The AthlonIIx3 is usually the best price/performance CPU you can get. You might see if there is a system like that available prebuilt.
For a graphics card, at the $80 price is the 5670 and at $100 is the older but much faster 4850, if you can find one. The next step up would the $130 ATI 5770, which will play games from med-high settings on a nice new 1920x1080 HDTV/LCD monitor.
The system is adequate, excepting the psu. The 6gb of ram is more than you need, 4gb is fine.
I suspect that you can do better by assembling your own.
No doubt you can get several suggested builds from forum contributers.
On a cursory level, you should be able to build a similar system for about the same price. If you have a .edu e-mail address, you can qualify for a $30 copy of w7.
If you can wait until January, the intel "sandy bridge" processors should be available. They will be much better, and include integrated graphics perhaps equivalent to a current $50 graphics card.
You might do better by looking on craig's list or ebay for a system. Who knows what you could find?