I have recently been toying with the idea of upgrading my personal computer (although I don't use it near as much as I used to). I'd like to double my system memory, get a faster processor (a new motherboard as a result), and replace my SATA hard drives (which have been surprisingly disappointing).
The problem is that computer hardware is complicated, and it's getting more so all the time. I remember spending weeks researching various options for my last major upgrade; and that was well over two years ago! Since that time, processor model numbers have become increasingly complicated and motherboard options seem to have multiplied several times. Adding to my frustration are hardware review sites such as Anandtech and Tom's Hardware, both of which make the assumption that readers spend each and every day staying up to date with hardware trends. Don't they realize that there are those of us who look at hardware on an incredibly infrequent basis? Thankfully, Tom's Hardware has some charts that they keep updated on a semi-regular basis for graphics cards, processors, and hard drives. The benchmarks within them are handy for people like me, who just want to get a feel for where things are.
I am thinking about moving to an AMD processor this time around. I've always used Intel Pentium chips, but the AMD solutions seem way more affordable. Can anyone recommend an AMD CPU / motherboard combination that would work well for gaming? It clearly needs to be faster than my current setup (P4 - 2.8GHz), but I don't want to pay thousands of dollars for it. Why can't any of this stuff be easy?