Budget Range: Undecided... let's say $700 or less for purposes of this thread.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Video and Photo editing, web site design, simultaneous office apps, multi-window online poker and light gaming.
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, microcenter, Amazon
Country of Origin: U.S.
Parts Preferences: Windows 7 home premium for OS, dual monitor capability is a must, would prefer a quad core proc ... that's about all for 'preferences'
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: To start out, I just want a budget office and video editing box with a single, large storage drive, but I'm after plenty of horse power for doing a lot simultaneously and room to grow. Eventually (meaning 8-12 months after build), I am planning to add a TV tuner card (probably PCI express) and then, a little later after that, another addition of a video capture element, too. Down the road, I'm also considering adding a second drive and going Raid 1.
You say your building in 1-2 months, this makes it seem like its not too urgent. If you are able to wait till Q1 next year the new CPUs from AMD and Intel will be out and you will get much more for your money.
We need to know what "light gaming" means. If it means undemanding titles (possibly just casual and/or Flash-based games), then an IGP may be sufficient. If it means infrequent use, but the titles are the latest FPS games, then you'll still need a strong card, especially for 1920x1080.
In one-two months, a lot will have changed. The HD68xx cards just came out, so their effect on prices has hardly begun. Also, some excellent Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals are likely to turn up.
Thanks for the attention on the thread. Let me perhaps clarify the situation a bit better. Here's what I'm running right now. It's one I built and last upgraded in 2002 .
AMD Athlon 2800+
Asus A7N8X Deluxe
1.00 GB Corsair XMS Platinum RAM
160GB WD HD
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
Giant, white, Antec ATX tower case with 350W PS
Truthfully... I rarely game - or at least I should say that I rarely invest in newer games (I was playing UT2003 into last year, okay?). Supreme Commander gets played (though this rig struggles with it), and the first Crysis as well (which this rig cannot handle). Outside of those It's a Civ or a Stronghold, etc. It could very well be that I don't game much because of the rig's capabilities, but I just don't put time into gaming like I did when I was in my 20s. I'd be significantly more disappointed if I continued to struggled within Adobe Premier CS4 than if I was okay with CS4 but had to add a video card at a later time to play a game that comes out next year.
So there's my current situation and the reference I'm coming from when I say "light gaming".
If I don't need a quad-core processor or a video card... damn... sounds good. Keeps the bank in my pocket. But if I do, I want to make sure I have it. Going for smart... not necessarily sexy.
Excellent clarification. Your 9700 Pro is about as strong as the best AMD IGPs. It sounds like it isn't quite good enough, but not so miserable for your uses that you now need a $200 video card; half that will do. A HD5670 is a 13-tier jump on the graphics chart at http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-gefor... , but read the whole article and decide what fits in your budget. With a $700 budget, you'll have no trouble fitting in a quad core CPU, although if you're trying to save money, even a X3 will look pretty good compared to where you are now.