Great forum you have here. Although I am a longtime IT professional with lots of hardware/install experience this will be my first ground up build. It's actually for my mother. She does light photo editing/graphic design and just general web surfing etc. No high def movies or gaming or anything like that. She is going to be using an existing 20" monitor and I'm going to surprise her with a run of the mill 1900x1080 27". She may or may not go dual monitors depending on space. I recently replaced her HDD with a 500GB Seagate 7200.x so she'll use that as a storage drive.
I recently put a Phoenix SSD in my machine and love it so that's one definite requirement here. I was originally going to go with a 64GB for OS and programs but she said she'd like a bigger one (she only currently is using 80GB of the 500 after a long time of use so she'd have difficulty filling up a 120 even after a few years I'd think). So that increased her budget to $700 (not included monitor as that's on me).
Here is what I came up with.
Case: Antec One Hundred Black (like the tray on top and the 4 USB ports on an angle) - $60 PSU: Antec BP550 Plus 550W Modular - $65 MOBO/CPU: ASUS P7H55-M PRO Micro ATX Intel Motherboard / Core-i3-550 Clarkdale - $210 RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory - $49 Optical: PLEXTOR Internal DVD Super Multi Model PX-L890SA $35 HDD: OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G 2.5" 120GB SSD - $199
Add in a media card reader and a few other goodies and it comes in under the $700 mark.
Thoughts on this build? I liked the idea of being able to add an inexpensive video card later if the Clarkdale/Mobo HDMI/DVI graphics don't work out. I understand a lot of people use this config for HTPC so if it'll handle HD video I'm assuming it'll do fine for dual monitor general surfing/office stuff. I like Plextor drives because they've always been long lasting for me. Should I maybe look at PC1600 RAM, I know the Mobo will support it but not sure if it's worth worrying about or if I'll see a major difference. I'm assuming 4GB will be plenty for her.
Basically just trying to create a reliable fast system that will last her 4 years or so. Also if anyone has a rec for a 27" monitor for ~300 that'd be cool too.
I would suggest an AMD system for that price range. i3 just doesn't have the longevity as a 3 or 4 core processor does. Try an Athlon 2 x3 or x4. You'll be happier with that purchase, and save some money as well.