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The only piece of hardware that will matter for Scrypt coins (like LTC, Dogecoin, etc.) is the GPU. All the other components can be old, it will not make a difference with the exception of the PSU. You will need to make sure you have a decent PSU with enough wattage and efficiency (80%). There are tons of good PSU's, you can search Newegg.com for one and read the reviews. As for the GPU, if your just looking to mine coins casually and explore the crypto currency world, you can easily start with a 5850/5870 and invest anywhere from $75-$150 ( whatever the going rate is on eBay ). These cards will get you around 300KH/s - 400KH/s. Obviously more money will net you higher KH/s.Second, go here: http://doges.org/index.php?topic=592.0 This thread will help you get your machine setup for mining. Afterwards, just visit coinmarketcap.com and start following the coins on the list. A general rule of thumb is the lower the price, the easier to mine (not for all coins). Also visit bitcointalk.org and check the Announcements forum, you will find all the information about new coins and the ones that the members are excited about.Lastly, unless you plan on spending thousands of dollars, mine with a pool and coins with low difficulty.
If price wasn't an issue then you would be looking at creating a 5-6 GPU mining rig. The card in question would be either a R9 290x or a 7970 and your hashrate would be around 850kh/s per card. So regarding your question about the price to performance difference of the cards, they are proportional though not exactly at a ratio of 1:1. Using the 270x and the 290x as reference examples, you can get (every brand will have a difference price tag so using estimates) a 270x for ~$250 which will get you a hashrate of 490kh/s (I am using a Gigabyte R9 270x and get this hashrate). For ~$630 you can get a 290x which will get you a hashrate of 900kh/s. Judging from this you could get two 270x for cheaper and obtain a higher hash rate. The power consumption would be roughly the same (comparing my power consumption to another poster's consumption). However, for an extra $130 you future proof yourself. Down the road if you really wanted to upgrade to get a higher hashrate, you would end up replacing those 270x cards with 290x cards (unless you wanted to run four 270x cards however that would not be very efficient). Here's a site where you can compare all the Radeon cards via price, power, and hashrate: https://litecoin.info/Mining_hardware_comparison
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