OK, here's the scoop; I may, through my own stupidity, have fried the motherboard in my desktop PC at home, and am facing the prospect of getting a new one, and I'd like to get some input on which direction I should take, since it's been almost 5 years since I last did this.
The PC that may be dead has a P4 3Ghz processor on an ASUS P4C800 Deluxe motherboard, 1GB RAM (DDR400) and some peripherals worth salvaging (hard drives, DVD drive, etc.). I was trying to plug in some additional memory, decided to take it back out and check a few things online before proceeding, and closed up the box. When I fired it up, a rather nasty smell starting coming out of the case, and when I powered back down, I realized I hadn't taken the memory card out after all, and worse yet, it was sitting halfway into the slot. Now when I try to boot I get one long beep followed by two short ones, and endlessly repeating cycle that I haven't been able to get definitive info on as to what it means (some say main memory failure, others the video adapter).
I'm trying to figure out if perhaps the existing memory got fried and putting different DIMMs in might resolve the issue, but I'd rather not pay for that only to find out that's not the problem, and the mobo is indeed toast. So I've started browsing online for a new rig...
What I Do: A little gaming (NHL08), but mostly intensive database and spreadsheet work. I have a blog where I dig into statistical analysis of the NHL, and I'm in the process of designing a database that would be updated after each night's games.
Since it's been so long since I've had a box built, I don't even know where to start. AMD? Intel? 2 or 4 CPU? 2GB RAM? 4GB? 32-bit or 64? I assume, based on everything I've read, that XP is the way to go over Vista (Windows only, please). I'm not looking to blow huge sums of money here, so I like to find sweet spots where the diminishing returns for that extra $ start to tail off.