I signed up on this forum really only to reply to this thread, although I will likely stick around.
I am running an AMD Opteron 165 @ 2610 MHZ (currently). The Opteron 165 was the primo overclocking chip for a long while before the C2D came out, and I used to run it at 2.8GHZ on stock cooler (got lucky, but after time thermal migration or some such caused me to lower it a bit, not a big deal).
Anyways, I still haven't upgraded mobo (DFI) and CPU because of a combination of massive initial overclock, declining interest in gaming, and finally a year ago a switch to linux. It just still works fast enough for me, and really it is quick. I did upgrade my video card a few times however (currently on an 8800GT with an overclock). Yeah, that is old too.
I just wanted to say, that my switch to linux, after a few unhappy stints with Ubuntu, is probably the only reason I still use this 5 year old PC. Otherwise I would have shelled out lots of money to keep current with Windows.
I now use Arch Linux (x86_64 version). www.archlinux.org
. The best place to start is the Beginners Guide on the Wiki, and the Wiki is your best friend and of excellent quality https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners_Guide
I would recommend this linux to anybody who has previously tried Ubuntu for a few weeks but was unsatisfied. You MUST configure the system yourself, but that is what makes it so great. If the fonts bother you, install the windows fonts and change the aliasing options. Whatever it takes, it IS possible and you will learn lots. You get a fast, custom system, and learn the basics of linux in a way that Ubuntu will NEVER teach you. The Arch wiki and AUR (custom software installation) are great. Documentation is well above average. I cant recommend it enough. I tried ubuntu a few times (various flavors), but something would always screw up and a solution was hard to find. Google searches are futile with Ubuntu because there are so many similar (but really unrelated questions due to past versions), it sounds like your problem, but really isn't. With arch, just consult the wiki (in most cases, always try it first), or the manual (man command), or as a last resort the arch forums which are great. Arch also uses some aspects of BSD that make it easier to configure in relation to a standard Linux, although Arch is Linux. Hard to explain, but if you use it you will see (rc.conf for starts).
I am surprised that my system still runs after running it overvolt and overclocked for so long, and that my three HD's averaging about 4 years old now are all still working, but I really see NO REASON to upgrade at this point. This system is so fast and never locks up except when I boot into XP. XP has a tendency to just become unresponsive from .5 seconds to forever at times (even at stock clock and volt), so annoying. Arch never does that. Windows 7 or Vista would be even worse than XP when it comes to speed.
Sorry if this sounds like a true-believers rant, but I have had a great time with Linux after trying Arch, and it has taught so much to this 7+ year IT tech. You can do so much with shell scripting, and compiling programs from source, or even modifying programs before compilation is not as hard as it sounds. It has been less than a year since I started this, and really I am quite comfortable with it now (I was very intrigued after a day with arch, and completely sold after less than a month of hard work). At that point I even turned my 4+ year XP install into a virtual machine with Disk2vhd, although I will admit that I recently re-partitioned a drive to install XP and dual boot again. Don't worry, I ain't switching back to Windows as my main system any time soon...
Really, it is all about the distro, try more than one. I would recommend Arch, but each to their own. You WILL have to spend a week or two configuring to your hearts desire, but that is the point!
If gaming is the vast majority of your PC use I think it will be hard to develop the interest to do what I have. I still recommend trying various distros in a dual-boot for anybody though. You can learn a lot. Ubuntu was a good start, but so much more is out there.
Edit: For clarification, I use Arch X86_64 with Openbox as my Window manager (although you can use Gnome, KDE, or other desktop/window managers). You could even make it the same as Ubuntu in day to day use, but why do that? My preferred file manager is a combination of Thunar and Worker (I love Worker for the scripts you can make easily with it).Edited by fatjake - 2/25/11 at 4:26pm