BUDGET RANGE: $500-$600. I'd pay a little more for a big jump in performance
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, media Sever (trans-coding?), Movies, Internet
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, HDD, DVD Burner, soundcard, PSU?
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, tigerdirect.com (local store - tax free next weekend)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: NC, USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD for budget reasons. Triple or Quad core.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably not initially but would be nice to have the option for future upgrade if not more than $20 extra.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: ACER 21 inch LCD 1600x1200.
I found this build (thanks to teamYNS) as a starting point:
AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX440WFGIBOX
GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] mbo.436592
looks good. id get a 550w psu, xfx is good.
as for hfs, the cooler master hyper 212 pro is great, cheap too.
get whichever case you like more, as this is what you'll have to stare at every day. if the case comes with a card reader, cool. if not, go get one for cheap. the ones you picked should cool well.