I concur with DreadCthulhu, www.newegg.com is pretty darn good. I’ve never bought anything on E-bay, I’m a little leary about used electronics.
If you are just doing email/internet/cd-burning, then you can go with a lower video card (or motherboard with onboard video) and a decent sound card and CD burner.
Motherboards, there are all kinds out there. If you are looking to get a Pentium Processor (I like Pentiums), then you’ll need a Pentium 4 motherboard. I’ve used Intel, Soyo and Asus motherboards with pretty good results. They can run anywhere from $60 up. Since you aren’t doing anything crazy and are looking for cheap, one of the cheaper boards should suffice. You might want to look for one with the Video integrated, that will save you from buying a video card and since you aren’t doing any gaming, it might suit you well. Intel has a board for around $90 that has built in audio & video but with an AGP video slot (for video cards) if you wanted a better video processor. Also a board that just supports EIDE/ATA hard drives should do you fine (see next). I prefer boards with 4 memory slots, but memory is so cheap now you can get away with just two. PCI slots are important, but you’ll probably only use 3 or 4 at the most. 6 is a good number. PCI slots is where you’d connect your modem, sound card and other periphials.
Hard Drives have come down a lot. For cheap, you’ll want to stick with EIDE/ATA drives. There are new drives out SATA (Serial ATA) have smaller connectors (thus reducing leenmi’s space problem) but are more expensive and a bit more difficult to set up. You can get a 40GB hard drive for under $60 and an 120GB for under $100. Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital are all pretty good brands. Unless you have thousands of mp3s and thousands of pictures, 40GB should do you fine, but you might want to spend the extra $30 for the extra space, it couldn’t hurt.
As for the memory, go to www.crucial.com or www.kingston.com and use their wizards to find out what memory you need for your motherboard. Memory is pretty cheap now (as opposed to years ago, it was like $1/MB) and more memory is good. 256MB will get you buy, I’d suggest 512MB. Again, it couldn’t hurt.
You’ll need something to put it in. Most every case is ATX, which is the most common style of motherboards. Get one with the power attatched, and since you aren’t running a high end video card, one with a 350W power supply will do just fine. Full Towers give you more space to work in, but also take up more space. Mid-tower cases should do, you can pick those up for $50 in most cases.
If you are burning and listening to music, do yourself a favor and get a decent card. I’ve always used Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards. Maybe someone else can suggest another card. Still, if you are looking for cheap but still good, you can get one for under $100.
CD/DVD burners are up to you. I love (LOVE) my TDK VeloCD burner and just ordered a Sony 510A DVD burner. Haven’t really done anything on DVD, but for CDs, I’d suggest TDK. Other popular brands are Sony, Plexor, TEAC and HP. They are pretty easy to install, you just want to make sure it’s set to master and plugged into the secondary master slot on your motherboard (Your hard drive would be the primary master).
Keyboard, mouse and monitors are all to your personal liking. Logitech sells some pretty good stuff if you are looking for direction for mouse and keyboards. I’ve had good luck with KDS monitors, cheap and with good support.
As for OS, I like XP. You can get a full version under $100 and it should do you nicely.
Hope this helps and good luck.