Sometime around September/October I'm going to be looking at building a new system. It's geared mostly toward photo editing (13mp RAW files) with some minor gaming. I'm way behind the curve with games so this will be running stuff like Oblivion and Civilization 4 -- I'm not going to tax it too hard. I will want plenty of RAM, 8GB is what I'm shooting for, and fast drives would be nice -- drive size isn't too critical. I want to start fresh, so I'm looking at everything except keyboard, mouse, monitor.
The real issue is that, if possible I'd like to keep power use as low as possible. I know that high performance, low wattage, and low price don't all go together, but I'm seeing what kinds of compromises have to be made.
I'd like to keep things around $750, including an OEM copy of Windows 7. I know this is pushing it. I'm really just looking to see what my options are here; I don't even need a specific build, just some direction as to what I should be looking for. I can go a bit higher than that if necessary, so options for a $950 budget would be good too.
Basically, what can I do to lower power consumption that doesn't cost two grand. That's the question. Any other general advice on building a system would be great; the last time I did this was in 2004 or so.