If you can, bump your budget up some more. A $500-$600 hardware budget is the sweet spot for PC building now; too far above or below that and value-for-money goes down.
For processes that don't take advantage of that many cores the six-core Phenom will be worse than a quad with more cache. (And both will be worse than the Sandy Bridge Celerons
) The only reason that processor exists is because *** SIX CORES
*** For gaming you have to look more closely at memory bandwidth and processor cache than number of cores.
According to Tom's Hardware's benchmarks, the i3 2120 is a better buy than the six-core Phenom II 1075T, and i5 2400s are an even better buy.http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/bes ... 59-10.html
There's really no reason to even think about buying AMD until Bulldozer comes out, and given the steady march of Intel's Tick-Tock development cycle, disappointing prerelease reviews, and the Valve-like delays in its release, it won't be a repeat of the early 2000s Athlon XP vs NetBurst dogfight the fans seem to think it will be.
e: quickie example setup:http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ComboDealD ... mbo.674752http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6822148697http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6820233132
There's your motherboard, an i5 2400, 1 TB 7200 RPM hard drive, and 4 gigs of DDR3 1333 for CA$401. Just add a power supply, case, Windows license, and optionally a video card. (Intelgrated video is far from fantastic, but the HD 2000 is "good enough for now" on a shoestring budget.)
e2: More parts for example:http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6814121363
- Radeon 5770 for $90 after $20 MIRhttp://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6817371015
- Antec EarthWatts 650w PSU - $85
Any old random ATX case you can get your hands on - $50 or so for a nice one
So that's about $625 for a really decent machine out the door. You can lower that by recycling parts or stepping down the CPU and motherboard a bit, but this should last you 5 years at the least. I know from experience that if you buy cheap junk that's "good enough" now, it costs more in the long run because you have to replace it sooner. The 2400 is the cheapest SB Intel quad you actually want. If you want to be cheap you could browse Craigslist or Kijiji to see if an enthusiast with deep pockets is trying to dump an older rig for a decent price. Sometimes you might even get a legit Windows license out of the deal!
(That reminds me, if you or someone you know is in college you can probably get a really inexpensive license from the school bookstore.)
That six core processor alone is $300
$150http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6819103851