Originally Posted by kruze
Id recommend a somewhat capable updated processor. Nothing single core. Then you can upgrade ram/vid card/hd whenever.
I personally would rather just buy all custom. Slap together all the parts for the same as a cheap computer but with much better components. For example my 07 parts were rapidly becoming out of date. I replaced the mobo and cpu and feel a world of difference. Now I have room to upgrade to much better ram, add an SSD etc. The mobo/cpu combo was super cheap like probably 60-100 total I forgot. But you can find deals like this constantly. It's up to you though.
He doesn't seem like the DIY computer building type. Better to stick with PC in a box deals.
True some people could whip together a pretty awesome system for $400, but not everyone has the time or knowledge to do so.
PS Microcenter has a deal for $100 you can get a Phenom X2 555 (usually can unlock to a X4 Quad) and mobo. Get one of the PSU/burner deals from newegg (~$50 after rebate), $80 for 4gb DDR3, $65 1tb HDD, $40 cooler master case, $50 gpu. Still has some wiggle room for taxes and shipping. Not too shabby.