[For motherboard upgrade in 2005, see §15.8.]
This system was needed to give me an updated Windows machine with an extra large disk and good sound support for some consulting work.
Here is what I chose:
I found most of the mail-order companies via http://www.pricewatch.com.
This machine gave me no trouble at all on the hardware front. Windows 2000, however, was another story, mostly due to manufacturers being behind in developing drivers. Apparently, Microsoft has been placing a huge upgrade burden on PC hardware companies, forcing them to totally rewrite their drivers to the new software models imposed by Microsoft. For Windows 2000, you definitely should download the latest drivers from the company websites. In my experience, the versions shipped on CD-ROM with the hardware are simply broken.
The worst thing about building a new Windows PC is the difficulty of getting all the software installed again. The Windows Registry makes this a real pain, as does the practice of adding new system files to the Windows system directories. You actually have to reinstall every application you want, unless you are willing to play games and take real chances with stability. Microsoft should have long ago required software installations to place everything in a single installation folder (such as a directory under Program Files, and then used a simple path mechanism like UNIX uses. At the very least, the Registry info should be in easier to maintain ASCII files. UNIX is much better in this respect. The NeXT OS was even better with their ``app wrappers''. (Other NeXT features that the others need to adopt include ``Services'', the ``open'' shell command, nameable ``Terminal'' windows, drag-and-drop into Open panels, Open panels that remember where you last were for each application, etc., etc.)