Quote Originally Posted by Yawgm0th
Last time I checked, any hardware Direct X 9.0 card will handle all of Vista's GUI features, but it may need a 9.0c card. It's irrelevant because you'll be getting a 9.0c card either way.

That lack of overclocking is unfortunate, but we can deal. An AM2 system will be most appropriate. Intel has absolutely nothing right now except for overclocked and small form factor systems. If you can wait until July 23rd to buy the CPU, do so, because AMD CPUs are taking a huge price hit. If not, try for a 3800 single-core. I don't know where you're looking, but the prices right now are perfect for this system. All single-core CPUs are under $200, basically. This ought to be the perfect board.
That's about $220 for board and CPU.

Throw in a GB of DDR2 for $70 and you've got $290.

Now get a 450-480W PSU (try Antec or Fortron at this price range, you should be under $70), call it $350.

Make it $400 after an 80GB hard drive.

Decent case and a DVD/CD-RW, call it $480.

Over $300 left and all you need is a video card. If gaming is a major priority, blow the rest here and get an X1800XL, X1800XT, 7800GT, or 7900GT. However, if gaming isn't that important and they just need to be able to play the games for a few years, grab a 7600GT.

That would leave well over $100, which ought to be spent making that 3800 into an X2 3800.

You may think it's overkill, but it's not. Dual-core is considered mid-range, and when Vista comes out the only single-core systems will be using processors geared at developing (read: third-world) markets. As of July 23rd, dual-core is entry-level. Vista and programs developed for it will utilize multiple threads, and AMD supposedly is going to unlock a technology that allows two cores to work together on a single thread, a sort of reverse hyperthreading.

Wait 23 days and go dual-core with a high-end video card or get a mid-range video card and go dual-core now. If it must be purchased now and gaming is critical, get a high-end video card and single-core processor.

If you wait, you could also consider getting 2GB of RAM (which will be standard mid-range amount as of Vista's release) and sticking with a 7600GT. I'm given the impression that this isn't in a big rush, and that gaming is more of an afterthought, so that may be the best option.
This is the most helpful post I have found on the net in quite a while. And even though it seemed like a long time from 2 weeks ago when you posted this, the 23rd is now right around the corner and the price cuts are almost upon us. In fact, the brand new E6300 seems to be a steal at the projected regular price of $183. Check this review out: