Budget Range: $500 After Rebates (could go beyond this by $100 or so)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: business apps, audio output, sound recording (limited editing), surfing the internet, watching movies
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, sound card, HD
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com
Country of Origin: US
Parts Preferences: by brand or type: I would like to use an Intel processor and must have 2 free PCI slots in the MB for my sound card. I would also like onboard graphics on the MB and prefer ATX over mini ATX. Quality. Not Biostar.
SLI or Crossfire: No
Additional Comments: PC needs to be as quiet as possible. I want something that will last for the next 6-7 years - my current setup lasted longer but I've been hobbling along for awhile now. So quality parts and stability is important to me. No gaming necessary but HDMI out would be nice.
Upgrade-ability eh? Well then Intel isn't the way to go.. If you get something like an Athlon II, you can upgrade to a Phenom II Six-Core if you wanted to, with the same motherboard too. Intel.. not so much the best you can do is get an i7 8XX 1156
I guess I don't have a compelling reason for going Intel. I am thinking future up-grade-ability though. Also I tend to like the chipsets on the intel mbs better. I am open to influence:-)
Yeah, about that. . . Now is a really bad time to be looking to be future proof. Both major mainstream mobos are getting phased out soon, and neither has a new CPU lineup planned for it.
LGA 1156 is getting superseded by LGA 1155 in Q1 2011. AM3 is getting superseded by AM3r2 (aka AM3+) in Q2 2011. Unlike their previous two generations, AM3+ CPUs will not be compatible with AM3 mobos. Most of what will be available in the future for those sockets is already available. You'll see some speed bumps, but that's about it.
The only real difference between platforms regarding future proofing is that AM3 boards SATA 6/USB 3 will perform better than an H55's SATA 6/USB3. So, if you feel like maxing out a USB3 port, go AMD.
Something you might consider (since you said you had plenty of HDDs, and I presume plenty of disk space) is a small SSD for a boot drive. Fast and completely silent. Unfortunately, the kinds of SSD you can fit into a $500 budget are 30-40 GB in size, so you'll need HDDs anyway for space, which nulls the silent advantage.