After doing yet more research on benchmarks and prices, I’ve backed away from my revolutionary stance on Intel processors. The Athlon 64 X2 represents a fair approximation, and the CPU and motherboard combo I’ve chosen will save me about $150 off of the Intel alternative. Here’s what I’m ordering tonight:

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA780G-UD3H (780G chipset, ATI Radeon HD 3200 on-board, although I won’t be using it) CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600 (Dual 2.9GHz cores, 2x512K L2, 65W) Video card: Radeon HD 4870 1GB (My first PCIe x16 card! Note that this is actually a bump over the previous plan) Memory: G.SKILL 4GB DDR2 (1066 MHz, dual-channel, CAS 5. A tiny upgrade in speed) Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar WD6400AAKS (640GB, 7200 RPM, this hasn’t changed)

Add in an HDMI cable (my screen and current video card support it, but for some reason I never got around to buying one) and one of the best reviewed AM2 heatsinks on the market, and it all adds up to just over $550 including shipping. Even cheaper than I was expecting.

The savings will probably go towards an HTPC build from the old hardware. Details to come! Maybe!