I just went through this about 2 moths ago; these tips may help.
First decide what features you want; usb ports, pci slots, video slots, firewire, satavs EIDE, etc. if you have particular needs, list them and go from the idea of what you want it to do.
I use newegg.com a lot; just my preference. Look at processors, look at reviews. I decided to bite the bullet and get the Intel core2duo 6400 on an AsusP5Bexpress MOBO. Pay attention to the FSB speeds on the boards; this is a good place to spend more money, even if you select a slower processor.
With Intel, remember that the core2duo clock speeds have different significance than older designations, with true dual core, actual clock comparisons get less meaningful. Decide on RAM, again bus speeds are important, otherwise you can create a system bottleneck.
Video cards are very tough, because there are so may out there, and all hyped up. I like NVidea, simply because I have had good personal experience with the chipsets over the years. After talking it over with others who had upgraded recently, I went to a 256MB 7600GT style; I found that even though it does not have the extra RAM, the clock speed was higher than a lot of other more expensive boards.
Asus P5B Express MOBO
Core2Duo 6400 processor
2 GB Ram
160MB SATA II WD HD
500W Modular power supply
running XP PRO SP2
It took me about a month-- put it together on paper, make sure you have all the bases covered-- case, drives, usability-- plan it out then put it ut to you gaming buddies to pick apart-- just remember to stick to the facts, not just the opinions. Modify your original plan and do it again. Once you decide on components, then search for the best prices.
It takes a lot of time, but I am really happy with my build and have been running Oblivion without a problem, alng with a lot of other stuff
I have been Running
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