I need a new computer… advice needed

My computer is dying. As I mentioned six months ago, it was poorly when it arrived in our container from the UK and has deteriorated even more since then. :((

My video card has now died completely and the AGP socket on the motherboard no longer works at all. I’m currently stuck with the crappy on-board graphics card which isn’t great, especially under Windows Vista. On top of that, the power supply seems to “breathe” when the computer is busy; it’s not just the fan, it’s a loud electrical hum that can only mean bad things are about to happen soon. 😮

So I need a new PC.

Having worked in various computer companies for the last 15 years, I’ve always been able to acquire bits and pieces from here and there without spending a lot of my own money. Unfortunately I have to buy this one myself, so I’m going to build something half decent in the hope it will last a few years. $-)

I’ve done a bit of research this morning and, unless someone advises me differently, I’ve pretty much decided on the following components:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor — from what I’ve read today, the newly launched E4300 model could be extremely overclockable. With a bit of tweaking, it should be possible to make this bottom-of-the-range chip outperform the 3.4Ghz extreme editions that cost six times as much. [$297]
  • Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard — It has all the features I could need and seems to be a favourite amongst the overclocking enthusiasts, who managed to get 3.38Ghz out of this 1.8Ghz rated CPU. [$189]
  • Geforce 7900GS video card — I’m not going to pay crazy money for a top-end graphics card; about £60 was my limit last time. I don’t play a lot of games but when I do, I’m usually disappointed to find that I have to turn off most of the fancy graphics. I’ve never been an ATI fan, so I was looking at the slightly cheaper Nvidia 7600GT models but, in the hope that it will last a bit longer, I’ve stretched the budget to £100. [$250]
  • 2Gb DDR2 memory — I’ll make sure I get overclockable 800Mhz stuff, so it matches the FSB speed, but I don’t think I need to pay top whack for the premium branded stuff. [$265]
  • A case — Undecided on this at the moment. I don’t want a huge thing, would prefer a small HTPC or cube style case. As long as it takes standard PSUs and full height PCI cards though. Possibly one of these, but I’ll see what they look like in the flesh first. [$130]

So, if you’re reading this Adrian/Andy/Rob/Jon etc – please let me know your thoughts on the above components. I need your expertise. ^:)^

Feel free to recommend alternatives, but my budget is $1200 maximum. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the bits from MSY next weekend, unless I can source any of it cheaper elsewhere using the StaticIce website.

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