Before you jump onto the web and start spending lots of money on expensive computer parts,
there are two important questions you should answer which will guide your purchases:
1. What are you going to use your new computer for?
2. Will parts be available to use from your old computer--or do you want to reuse parts from
your old computer?
(Often, you will either want to hand your old computer down to someone else, in which case
you must keep it functional, or it may be so old that you don't want to use any parts from it,
because they will slow down your new machine too much.)
What Operating System am I going to use?
Before you buy components, be sure that they are supported by the operating system you plan
to use. Almost all current, commonly available devices have drivers available for current
versions of Windows (generally, anything 2000, XP or newer); if you want to run an alternative
operating system, you'll have to do some research -- many alternatives have extensive
'Hardware Compatibility Lists'.
Windows hardware support lists
Most processors and motherboards based on the i386 or x86_64 architectures are supported by
Windows XP. Put more simply, this means all available consumer processors (especially from
AMD or Intel).
For other hardware
Microsoft Compatible http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/hcl/default.mspx/
BSDs hardware support lists
•DesktopBSD, see FreeBSD 5.4/i386 http://www.freebsd.org/releases/5.4R/hardware-i386.html
and FreeBSD 5.4/amd64 http://www.freebsd.org/releases/5.4R/hardware-amd64.html
•Dragonfly BSD http://wiki.dragonflybsd.org/index.php/Supported_Hardware
•PC-BSD, see FreeBSD 6.0/i386 http://www.freebsd.org/releases/6.0R/hardware-i386.html