About My System
In early 2011, I bought a new computer so I could give my wife my old system. Her ancient system just wasn't up to handling her workload, so she now has my old eMachines ET1331G-03 but with a real sound card added. She is much more concerned about good sound than I am.
My new system is another inexpensive but powerful system. As I'm not a gamer, I would not be able to justify the cost of a high end system even without our poor financial situation (huge cancer bills to pay off with no medical insurance coverage). This time around the best combination of power and low price I could find was an HP p6774y -- which I bought at a very good sale price from my local Office Depot (of all places).
The HP p6774y AMD Phenom II X4 840T quad-core processor running at up to 2.9 GHz with lots of cache, 6 GB of memory (which I upgraded to 12 GB), a 1 TB 7200 rpm hard drive, 802.11n wireless, ATI Radeon 4200 integrated graphics, onboard sound,memory card reader, and DVD burner with Lightscribe. The main operating system is 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, but I also run Linux and XP in VirtualBox virtual machines -- sometimes both at once (which is why I upped the memory). As usual, the weak point in my system is the onboard graphics. However, as I said, I'm not much of a computer gamer so the onboard graphics will do fine. Heck, this is the fastest graphics I've ever had. If it comes up lacking in the future it has a 16x PCI-E slot. This system does very well in the Windows Experience Index ratings (7.9 is maximum, 1.0 minimum), except in the graphics department:
Memory (RAM): 7.9
Gaming Graphics: 5.4
Primary Hard Disk: 5.9
The old eMachines ET1331G-03 had an AMD Athlon II X2 235e dual-core processor running at 2.7GHz with a 2MB L2 cache, 6 gigs of DDR2 memory (expandable to 8), NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics, a 16x DVD writer, and a digital media card reader and runs 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium. While my wife does not like Windows 7 much, she likes having this much faster and more powerful machine.
As there are several years worth of posts here that reflect my experience on my even older XP system (which died in early 2010), for reference, it was a Compaq Persario 6370US running Windows XP SP2. I had upgraded it to 1 gig of memory from the 512 megs it came with. It had a Pentium 4 single core processor running at 2.5 GHz and an old 64 meg Nvidia GeForce 4 video card. It was very similar to the system my wife was using -- only it was slightly slower and did not last quite as long as hers.