I started playing Rift and my current computer cannot handle it, I want to upgrade, but my budget is ~$500. I play at 1440x990 (1280x720 when I use my tv). At the lowest settings I am getting 14fps max.
My current setup is:
Phenom x4 9500
3gb ddr2 667
HD5570 (Lame xfx ddr2 version)
What I'm looking at purchasing:
Intel Core i5 2400
MSI H61M-P23 (B3)
Sparkle GeForce GTX 460 768MB (or 550 ti, they are the same price)
Micro Center 4GB DDR3-1333
Hitachi 7K1000.C 500GB HDD
PowerSpec Certified TX-606 mATX Mini-Tower
Visiontek 500 Watt ATX Power Supply
Total: $489 (before tax) I'm shopping at a local micro center.
My advice: if you're going to do a mid-range performance/value build, spend most of your budget on parts that will carry over into your next build, and that will also benefit your system the most:
All those parts are critical to the performance and reliability of your system, and they won't go obsolete any time soon.
and maybe the videocard too. Paired up with a nice CPU like the i5 2400, you shouldn't get any bottlenecking for games. I'd look at the 6950 1 GB, it can be had right now for around $230 after rebate. It's a huge part of your budget, but spending a $30-50 for a better GPU can make your system carry well into several generations of games.