The prospective PC builder faces a dilemma that's an outgrowth of the computer industry's success. With PCs so cheap, does it really make sense to roll your own? If you're talking about a PC equipped with one of the latest dual-core processors from AMD, the answer is yes.
In financial terms, because dual-core chips are the latest technology, there's less of a price differential between an off-the-shelf box and a system you can piece together yourself than is the case for low-end processors. As a consumer, rather than being forced to choose from a Chinese menu of canned configurations, you can spend your money on pure performance.
Building your own hot computer is also a valuable learning experience, one you'd do well to consider taking advantage of before PCs become like today's cars, with few user-serviceable parts inside.
In this article, we'll build a system around a dual-core Athlon X2 processor from AMD. In a future article, we'll construct a separate box using a dual-core Pentium D from Intel.
In terms of price, we're taking a two-pronged approach. We're building a high-end PC appropriate for multimedia or gaming, which will cost about $1,400. However, if you choose a slightly slower dual-core processor instead, you can bring the project in for less than $1,000.