Sandy made some excellent points, as expected, arguing for a Mac – "So count that as $150 for a really good environment and some nice apps, which retail all together for about $200." No doubt cause he just bought himself a shiny iMac. OS X is definitely a very nice operating system. After 2 years with a Powerbook, its worked great. iLife is definitely a nice suite but if I want to do some comfy video editing, its either get an iMac, and render my current dual LCD system useless (Staci could use one, I’m sure) or go up to a Mac Pro (or whatever the top of the line is called). Either way we’re talking about another $700 or $2,000 dollars to spend. Which is just too pricey for me.
On a whim, I decided to see if I could pick up comparable parts at a local retailer. How do these guys stay in business? The largest, Microcenter, has a pretty slim variety. Similarly, the smaller Advanced2000 has less parts and are more expensive than newegg. I put items in my shopping cart, but i has well over the $725 newegg would charge, before shipping. I’d swapped out for a less expensive case. Plus, they’re missing user-submitted reviews and advice for each part, which was a great research tool on newegg’s site.
Update: In the comments, Jason asks if the AMD quieter than the better performing Intel chips. I just ran across Anandtech’s article, measuring the power usage of Core 2 chipsets – which came in at 130 – 170 W. They mention AMD’s Energy Efficient line as an alternative. The AMD X2 processor I’m looking at is from that line, and is rated at "only" 65W (for the CPU). Since quieter operation, is directly proportional to the operating temperature of the system, using lower power (and hence cooler) components is one way to make a quieter system. You’ll notice, in my newegg list, that I also chose a decent, but passively cooled video card to help reduce noise.