actually what i meant by 'lifespan' was that if 2-3 years down the road everything started going 64-bit then i would have to upgrade my P4 processor...
But i guess that could be solved by getting a 600-series Prescott instead. They're about the same price as the Athlon 64's.
Does anyone have links to good places fro barebones kits? I've seen them on eBay before, that might be an option. Although if i took apart my current comp to build my new one, then i probably wouldn't need a case, power supply, and casefan.
Basically my budget is $500-1000 CDN ($400-800 US). I'd like to be in the lower end of that price range, but i'd pay a little more to get what i want:
*Pentium 4 600-series or Athlon 64 processor
*At least 512 MB ram
*at least 64mb video card (preferably 128 or 256)
* a decent sized hard drive (120gb and over. 200-250 would be ideal)
*DVD-RW (this is a must for me . The new LightScribe ones look neat, but a regualr one would do too)
besides that, pretty basic stuff. I don't need anything overly 'tricked-out'. Just that'll get me through Uni and handle a lot of media/multitasking and some gaming (Sims 2 would probably be the most powerful game I run).
Don't worry about 64bit making everything today obsolete - ain't gonna happen any time soon - for that to happen, Windows 64 would have to be PROVEN stable - just for starters - then MS Office, anti-virus, EVERY thing would have to be ported to 64 bit - it will take a decade or more before that happens - it will cost all industries too much - they don't need to when 32 bit apps run just fine. It will be a long time before 64 bit only applications are the norm.
The gaming industry will be driving this - watch them. In the meantime, if you are not into the latest and greatest 3D animated games, serious CAD, or video imagry, don't worry about 64-bit compatibility.
You were smart to set a budget and determine your needs before jumping out there. That tells me you have an ounce or two of common sense and so I have no doubt you will be able to build your system yourself.
That said, if 64bit capability, when it becomes available in a program you want, is important, AMD64s make choice. They are here, they are compatible with current stuff, and they are affordable.
Here's a couple things to consider. Pretty lights don't make the computer faster or better. In fact, they draw power and add heat, after a week or two they are boring and the computer gets stuck back in it's hole so lights end up being a waste of money.
If you are going to use the computer as a tool to conduct your personal and work related business, finances, school papers, email, Google, and maybe an occational DVD or photo management, you want a good reliable workhorse with the flexibility to last for years. If your computer is just a toy, add pretty lights.
I say start with a good case. Antec is an example of fine case makers. Solid construction, 120mm fan options, no sharp edges, removable or side access drive bays, and more.
Then a top 450W - 550W power supply to ensure CLEAN solid power for now and future add ons. A top quality PS delivers cleaner power to the motherboard - that is important. But it also is quieter, better at helping cool the case, and I say again, quieter. Antec also shines there too. Enermax and Thermaltake too.
If you have a great case and power supply, they will last through 2 or 3 motherboard upgrades.
You don't have to get the best you can afford now, There are many budget boards with audio, video, LAN on-board. You can always disable the video and install your monster one a couple paychecks later. Then disable sound and upgrade your card.
www.mwave.com is where I send a lot of first time builders. They have a great "Motherboard Bundle" package. Most seller's bundles are the motherboard and CPU only. MWave's also includes RAM. There wizard lets you pick and choose motherboards, CPUs, and RAM and build your own bundle. This is great because you will only be offered to put compatible CPUs and RAM to a particular motherboard - it saves you having to guess which processor will work - it will list all those that do.
Also, or only $9.00USD more, they will mount the CPU and RAM onto the motherboard and TEST it! So not only do you know these three component work, you know they work together - not a bad warm fuzzy for only $9.
Now for the Canadians, I don't know if they ship or sell to there, but you can still use their Motherboard Bundle wizard find the motherboard/CPU/RAM combo you want, price it out (they are competitive to ZipZoomFly and NewEgg) to see how it fits in your budget - they have a huge selection of boards and good descriptions.
Getting a slightly slower CPU but a faster video card will usually yield better results.
Get a minimum of 512Mb of memory - 1Gb is better, anything over 1Gb is overkill. Dual Channel RAM and motherboard is better - for 1Gb dual, you will need 2 512Mb modules installed in designated motherboard slot.