I found a few combos which work for what I want to do. NewEgg also has free shipping on Rosewill cases. So I was able to put this together this afternoon:
This includes the Athlon II X4 640, BioStar 880G+ motherboard, 4GB of OCZ Gold 1066MHz memory, a 250GB recertified hard drive, a $18 case, and a DVD burner. I intend to run Ubuntu 10.10 on the machine so I'm not buying a copy of Windows. Looking at $270 shipped ($260 plus ground shipping). I already have a 700-watt power supply and an HD4870 512MB card to add to what's here, plus my own 23.6" monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, headset, webcam, and all that. Other bits to add to this would be a card reader and a tube of Silver 5, which would run $19 in a combo. So that's about $290 for everything.
Now, I won't be overclocking this setup, and what I'll be doing with it will be having lots of browser tabs open to aggregate information from many sites into one site. I do this every morning. Then the rest of the day I do other sorts of data entry work, research, and build websites. I like a lot of desktop space. I like speed. Right now I'm running on a laptop with a Pentium Dual Core T4300 processor, 3GB of memory, and the 23.6" monitor at 1920x1080. It's slow at times but is acceptable. So I want to eliminate the slowness at times. I think a quad core will do.
Is there ANYWHERE I can cheapen this build to get a Phenom II X6 1075T instead? It's about a $95 price difference between the X4 640 and the X6 1075T when using the combo with the memory. I'm not sure I can come up with $385 right away. I think I picked the cheapest junk I could find that might run it. The motherboard claims to support 125W X6 processors. The memory should work, 7 latency, I couldn't find a cheaper hard drive, and the case is so cheap they're probably losing money shipping it to me.
Open to ideas, and I'll order this tonight if no one presents any serious objections.
I'm not sure the X6 is going to offer any improvement for you based on your workload. It's useful for really heavy jobs that can make use of multiple cores, like 3D rendering and some audio & video editing. I wouldn't expect it to make any difference in web browsing.
I have a Phenom II X4 and having a ton of browser tabs open rarely stresses the CPU beyond 5%.
You shouldn't need the Arctic Silver unless that Athlon II is an OEM chip without a fan. (In which case, you'll need to add an aftermarket HSF to your build.) Usually people only buy Arctic Silver if they plan on overclocking.
You're clearly cutting costs as much as you can, but if you find that the system isn't fast enough, the next thing I would buy would be an SSD. Or check with your ISP to see if you can get a faster net connection.
If you want to upgrade to the 1075T, your going to also have to upgrade your mother board and the cheapest combo for that is about 270 dollars. If you want to build something that cheap i don't really get why you would want to upgrade that but not upgrade anything else.
coldsleep, that Athlon has BOX at the end of the model number and the reviews claim it comes with a heatsink and fan that either are or aren't ok. The people complaining about it seemed to be overclockers. 3GHz is plenty fast I think. Also, I think you're absolutely right about the SSD. I don't need a very big one for Ubuntu, and could make that my first upgrade.
Pjdog, that board is an 880G chipset and it does claim to support the X6. Even with that said, I would still upgrade to a better board if I do that in a year or so. I think if I end up being able to afford a $180 processor, that I could swing the extra $80 for an ASUS board. Then I could grab another case, hard drive, DVD drive, 2GB of memory, and build a decent computer for the kids with the X4 630 and the Biostar board. It'd certainly be an upgrade from the box they have now (eMachines EL1200 upgraded to a 4450B CPU and 3GB of RAM). And I can throw in a 2TB hard drive and make the eMachines box into an HTPC. Or something.
This may be about all I can do with this build. I can't possibly bump down to 2GB of memory and you don't see $18 cases with free shipping and $30 WD hard drives every day. The only cheapening I CAN do is to go with the X4 620 and skip the memory combo, but then I'm only saving $7 to do that.
I also thought about using 1333MHz memory (costs about the same) but I read about people having to cut that back when they tried it. 1066MHz DDR3 memory has to be quicker than the 667MHz DDR2 memory in my laptop. I'm sure that won't be a bottleneck.
I'm just thinking out loud here, really. I tried a couple of Intel builds and they just didn't seem to work out. In fact, the inspiration for this build came from a $299 Tiger Combo with an i3-540 on an EVGA H55 board, 4GB of memory and a bunch of other goodies. My wife said, "that'd make you a good computer" and I got to thinking, well, I have a good video card and a hefty power supply, what could I build that would be BETTER? I think this might be that.