I've always just purchased components and assembled my own PCs. But it's been about 3.5 years since my last upgrade and I've paid no attention to the technology changes since then.
My motherboard has died, so now's as good a time as any to upgrade. I'm not familiar enough with the newer CPU attributes and MB chipsets to make an informed decision. I'm all about getting the what it is that I need and not overpaying for the top stuff out there that I have no use for. I've pretty much always been an AMD guy and I run XP with no plan to move to Vista any time soon.
The PC is the family desktop used for typical family stuff and nothing fancy. Here are the particulars of what I have now, all bought at the same time:
AMD Athlon 64 3200 (2.0 Ghz)
MSI Nforce3 Chipset MB
80G Serial ATA 7200 rpm Hard Drive (8MB)
A quick glance at the current offerings and it seems like there are a lot more features you have to make a choice on: Single vs Dual core, L1, L2, L3 Cache, Operating Frequency (most are similar, but is there a minimum I need to have), AM2 vs AM2+ Socket, MB Chipsets - I'm not at sure what I need versus what's just too much.
The thing i would like to do if I can is keep my current memory I just bought last summer (2 X 1GB DDR 400 184 pin PC 3200). I really don't want to have to get new RAM, but I'm not sure if the new CPUs/MBs support this.
Lastly, I assume HDs have come a long way in the past 3 and a half years, but want to make sure. Mine is 80GB, but I have an external for storage, so I don't need an upgrade for the storage. But if a new CPU/MB is just going to be limited by the old HD I have, I'd go ahead and get a newer one.
Any advice would be appreciated.