[ubuntu] Building a new desktop

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http://ubuntuforums.org – I plan on building a new desktop that will run ubuntu. I am new to ubuntu, I use it on my netbook, which I have been using exclusively due to my desktop getting old and the video card going out. I don't want to spend more than $500 on this tower, so i7 processors are out of the question. I have been hearing good things about the Athlon 2 x4. Would this Intel be a better CPU than the Athlon 2? One other big expense is I want a ssd for my OS and programs. I plan on running an external for all my media. Any advice or suggestions for brand or specific model would be appreciated. I do some image editing and a lot of photography, both more for a hobby. Besides that, I do the normal stuff; IMing, looking at FB, and just "surfing the web." TIA (Hardware)