Re: @Martin an gof
The answers to your points are:
1) Yes, realistically you need newer machines to have a decent chance of running a VM. Think of at least 4GB RAM and support for virtulisation (AMD A8 ought to be fine).
1.1) What the VM buys you is you don't need to have drivers for the new hardware for an old OS (currently a w2k or XP issue).
1.2) You can also (sometimes!) migrate a working machine in to a VM image and thus save the process of installing the OS, patching, installing applications, getting license keys, setting stuff up, etc. Down side is you don't then clear out years of crud.
2) Most software that is currently performing OK on a 5 year old machine will be fine in a VM, and you can get some video acceleration support for the VM as well (depends on OS/video driver/etc).
Obviously you won't get "bare metal" performance but often the convenience beats that except for really high performance tasks, gaming, etc.
3) USB dongles are not usually a problem, you can selectively connect USB devices through the host to the VM, but you might find the occasional thing that won't work.
However, all change has a cost (time, software and hardware, sometimes all 3) and eventually you need to attend to it. Better to do it before the excrement hits to HVAC attachment so you don't find big problems that take ages to work around.