Slides system on the cheap
If you're like me with an aging old pc that just wont cut it anymore for modern games but don't want to spend the earth then this might be up your street. What i've tried to do is spec out a good solid platform for a balanced pc that won't break the bank - but is modern and will be upgradeable. I'm also a bit of a low noise fetishist, so it won't be like living witha jet engine.
Case & PSU:
Antec make good cases and this is what i'm going with here - Antec SLK3700-BQE Super Mid Tower Case - Black Quiet Edition. It has a low noise profile, decent airflow is understated and a great price. There are a few niggles, it comes with only one 120mm fan and a measly 350 PSU. £63.88
I'd add a QTechnology Ultra-Quiet ATX PSU 460W, 120mm fan - £81.08
Running Total: £144.96
The motherboard is the heart of the system, and it pays not to skimp here. I've always had good experiences with Asus, they are well made and reliable boards and given current tech socket 939 is the way to go. The board i've picked is A8N-SLI Deluxe Socket 939 nForce 4 SLI PCI-E ATX @ £101.03. This board has everything you'll need really - stable drivers / nforce4 chipset and the possibility of SLI. The layout is sensible and rather than a noisy fan, it uses a heatpipe to cool itself.
Running Total: £245.99
As we're going with socket 939 it has to be some variety of Athlon 64. X2 I think is the wave of the future but comes at a premium for now, the FX series I think are massively overpriced. As a stop gap measure the Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 939 512KB Inc Fan @ £101.52 is a good choice whilst waiting to for AMD to ramp up X2 production. It's perfectly fine for now, and you'll be able to pick up a solid X2 for a good price around Vanguard release.
Running Total: £347.51
I want 2GB in my system, in a matched pair of 1GB modules. As i'm not an overclocker, I dont really care about super high tolerence RAM so this deal from crucial looks okay.
2 * 1GB (DDR PC3200 • CL=3 • UNBUFFERED • NON-ECC • DDR400 • 2.6V • 128Meg x 64) @ £180.94
Running Total: £528.45
I've had good experiences with Seagate in the past and need a SATA drive so this Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB SATA150 7200rpm 8MB
@ £60.74 looks fine. I've also heard good things about Samsung drives (particularly with regards to noise so they are an option too)
Running Total: £589.19
Graphics cards are always expensive things, and I don't feel now is the ideal time to buy top of the range. Nvidia are king of the hill at the moment and ATI have nothing competitive available, which is allowing the prices of the 7800x to be held artificially high. When (if) ATI release something competitive, i'd expect Nvidia to slash prices / bring out other models. For the time being my recommendation is to buy a 6600 (non GT) with 256 MB on board knowing that it is a stopgap and overclock it lots. It doesn't matter if you blow it, they are cheap and prices on 7xxx / r520 should normalise within 6 months.
GF 6600 256MB DDR PCI-E DVI VO @ £67.33
Running Total: £656.52
For now I recommend either reusing an existing PCI sound card or using onboard sound until the next generation of Creative cards comes out. Cost: £0
Again, these can be reused. Cost: £0
Final Total: £656.52 ($1162.04) - for a solid pc that should be capable of running Vanguard decently, makes little noise and is very future proof.
Edit: What i've tried to do here is spec out a very solid core system, that is upgradeable and of good quality. As time goes by key parts can be swapped out for more advanced tech that will keep the overall system current - so it's a very solid base to build on. The things i've spent money on are really a lot more static in price than the high performance drivers, and in a years time you could easily throw in a mid to highend AMD64-X2, Graphics Card, Sound Card and maybe an extra drive and it should still be very competitive. And apart from maybe the cheap video card, it should be very very quiet indeed - certainly less than say a PS2. Short term i'd look into good quiet cooler cpu's and perhaps an extra 120mm case fan.
I'd also look at replacing the keyboard, mouse and screen - the Dell and Samsung flat screens I hear are very good. If it was quiet enough i'd also consider a tv-receiver card and build out a media centre with it.