First of all, a big thank you to all the regulars on this forum who not only provided me with advice, but also provide guidance to all the other newbies here. This place is invaluable.
I built my very first computer a couple of days ago and I can honestly say that I wish I would have done this years ago instead of lining the pockets of Dell with my hard earned money. It really wasn't that difficult. I decided to go with a dual core e8500, Sapphire 4870, and Gigabyte EP45-UD3P. I had a budget of around $1000 and these major components fit nicely into that range. Everything was purchased from Newegg and I can't say enough about that experience. Ordering was a snap, and delivery was FAST! I couldn't believe it. Everything was well packaged and I was like a kid in the candy store when it all arrived.
My Antec 900 case is wonderful - I am so happy I spent the extra money and got this beautiful, guiet, and spacious case. It is purring next to me as I type this and the loudest thing about it is the Zalman CPU fan, so that tells you something about how quiet the case fans are.
Ok, so as a newbie what did I learn? First, don't be overwhelmed by the number of cables that come with the PSU. I used a PC Power & Cooling 750 W that seemed to have way too many cables, but once I had all the components hooked up to the various power cables, it all made sense. The extra cables are tied up and tucked away out of sight.
Secondly, installing the CPU cooler can be stressful, but looking back it wasn't really all that difficult. I used a minimal amount of thermal paste and the Zalman BARELY fit on the motherboard (I was stressed about that for a moment) but it fits and that's all that matters. According to Speedfan, my idle temp is 37C, so hopefully that is normal.
And lastly, even though I've bought a fair number of computers in the past, this one is definitely something special and the pride I felt as watching it boot up and seeing the Gigabyte screen appear on the monitor was indescribable. I didn't have a single hiccup with the entire building process and OS installation and was curious about it's performance so I downloaded 3Dmark 6 and it came up with 12799. I did a simple overclock using Easytune6 and it went up to 13200. I'm sure I can go higher but I have never overclocked before so will take my time with it.
At any rate, this is a long post and if you are a newbie like me, take my word for it that if I can build a computer, you can too. I can't wait to build another one!