Skip the Intel junk and go AMD! [img]images/graemlins/40BEER.gif[/img]
Seriously, there's nothing wrong with Intel chips, but their stuff is soooo overpriced it ain't funny. One thing you have to consider is that AMD's overclock like there's no tomorrow, while Intel's stuff typically won't go very far. For example, AMD just released some newer Durons in August that are clocked at 1.4ghz and 266mhz bus speed officially, but have successfully run to 2.5Ghz and almost 500mhz bus speed to the limits of the motherboards. How much is this chip? Less than $50! The newer Athlon XP chips around ~2ghz are going over 3ghz as well. But just keeping the overall factory speed and bumping up the bus speed will get you nice memory/cpu bandwidth with very little fuss, assuming you buy some quality pc3200 or higher ram. This hardware is very competitive with Intel stuff that costs 3x as much, mainly due to how the AMD chips handle operations per clock cycle... I would suggest reading some reviews at www.tomshardware.com
before you drop major bucks on anything. Clock speeds alone don't tell much any more, you have to dig deeper. I can tell you one thing for sure, get a new hard drive! They are mechanical and get worked hard, and eventually get loud and slow. Plus, newer hdd's have the faster interfaces found on newer motherboards, and the prices are awesome on even the huge drives.
Obviously I'm an AMD fan, but I've been a "computer geek" since I was 12 so I consider tweaking hardware a pleasure, not a pain. AMD seems to be more of an enthusiast platform whereas Intel caters to the business world, but they are trying to change that fact with their new 64-bit processors. We'll see how it goes, but honestly there's no reason to buy cutting-edge any more because hardware out-ran software long ago, and even my 2-year-old 1.4Ghz machine still satisfies my geek side just fine. Even gamers don't need the latest and greatest any more since the video card is the bottleneck now. For stability's sake, whether you go AMD or Intel, be sure to have at least a 300watt power supply with a brand name on it. Anything less is asking for trouble. Good luck picking out the perfect hardware, there's soooo much stuff on the market these days that it's damn near impossible to figure out what's "best". [img]images/graemlins/burnout.gif[/img]