My home-office Linux machine, built in 2003 (see §16.9 below), was a pretty lucky ``sweet spot'' in the evolution of PC hardware, and it served very well and snappily over the past five years. While it continues to work fine when left on all the time, it typically freezes during bootstrap, and I fear a hard failure is imminent. Also, I give myself permission to upgrade any machine after three years, and it's been five years.
For this upgrade, I mostly followed the Maximum PC online article ``Budget Badass Buyer's Guide -- Updated Prices and Parts For July 2008.'' I have subscribed to Maximum PC Magazine for years, and always enjoy it. While I don't really do enough graphics-intensive work to warrant the latest PCI-E Radeon 4850 GPU, I couldn't resist. (I also want to pursue programming the 800 GPU stream processors for non-graphics applications -- the SDK is available.) [I ended up regretting this four years later when the card died due to its fan wearing out. I never got around to much GPU programming, nor much graphics work at all. Instead, I had a relatively expensive, noisy, hot, weakest link in my system.]