Budget Range: ~$600 before rebates, no higher than $750, cheap enough to keep mother in law from buying mac mini (nothing wrong with Mac in general... but I use the $600 mac mini at my church and man does it suck)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Music, web browsing, work/office (teacher, so office and web apps)
Parts Not Required: Monitor and wireless router. I would still like suggestions on both as they need to be purchased, but they would not be part of this $600 budget
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, Micro Center (store), and if there is a killer deal I will make a pilgrimage to Fry's Electronics (~2hr drive)
Country: USA, Southwest Ohio
Parts Preferences: prefer an intel for CPU. I love Logitech for keys/mice. Otherwise not picky so long as it is quality and does not need to be fixed... ever.
SLI or Crossfire: Nope
Monitor Resolution: 1080p
Additional Comments: System will be 2000 miles away from me, so it needs to be reliable enough for me to not feel guilty.
1) Cold, Quiet, and Simple: This is a 60 year old professional, so having the technology be quiet and out of the way, while being powerful enough to last a long time is the way to go. Flashy and loud is bad.
2) Storage: ~120GB SSD system drive (OS, office, browser, ~40GB music, and ~3GB of documents). 500GB-1TB quiet HDD for videos, pics, and a system backup. Skydrive for document backup and syncing.
3) Wireless N is required. Suggestions for a good Wireless N router would be good as well. Preferably something I can put DD-WRT or Tomato on for her.
4) A good quality monitor. IPS may be overkill, but something in the 21-24" range, and 1080p that looks nice and sleek would be nice. Not part of the $600 system budget
6) Audio. Optical is a must. She hosts dance partys in her home (east coast swing I believe), and her boyfriend will be hooking this system into her sound system.
CPU/GPU: $90 Core i3 2100 http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Nothing she does utilizes anything more than a duel core. Debating about the $120 i3 2125 for better iGPU, but I am not sure it is worth it. Also debating about the $50 Pentium G620 and pairing it with a small $40 GPU (passive cooled). Looked into an A6/A8, but I dont think her workload will take advantage of anything more than a duel core, and there is simply no graphical workload to speak of.
Keys and Mouse: $50 Logitech MK520 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is an updated version of my wife's keys and mice, and the battery claim is true, 4 years in and we have changed the mouse batteries 3 times, but still on the original keyboard batteries. Anywho, I am open to suggestions if you know of something better.
Power Supply: $40 SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
300W should be sufficiently overkill for a system that should draw ~180W. A smaller PSU would be more than fine so long as it gets good reviews, is very quiet, and has an 80+power rating.
Case: $40 Fractal Design Core 1000 Micro ATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This may be a bit bleak for her tastes, but it is pretty small, and would be very quiet and out of the way (not to mention MUCH better than other cases in this size and price range), but I am open to suggestions.
Audio Software: $25 SB XFi MB2 http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Download-avail...
I use this on my system, and it is excellent... provided you are using an optical output. Much cheaper than getting a cheaper motherboard with dedicated sound card that has optical capability. Plus, no drivers to annoy me in win7 FYI, it also works pretty good on analog in my wife's system, but not nearly the difference that is noticeable with optical.
Wireless N Card: $23 ASUS PCE-N10 Wireless Adapter http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
matches the wireless router I am considering (see optional equipment). No file transfers on the network, only 15Mbps internet. Only devices will be the desktop, netbook/tablet/thing, and a wireless printer.
I would like to get this closer to $600 without killing quality/features. Any suggestions would be helpful Thanks!
Monitor: Currently looking at an ASUS 23" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I am severely out of the loop for what makes a 'good' consumer monitor, but this seems nice (last monitor I purchased was ~4 years ago, and it was a nitch market monitor).