I can choose to get this one ready made, or I can build my own with the same budget. After much research I think I managed to put together a pretty good one, which leads to a question, or rather three.
1. Do I have good parts picked out for the computer? I'm hoping that the computer can last maybe 5 years before I have to worry about getting another.
2. Are these parts going to work together or will my computer blow up when I push on?
3. How does my custom computer compare to the HP ready-made one? In other words, will it be worth it to build my own or should I just buy one?
Last comments: I really had no idea what to get for the motherboard. I stayed away from gigabyte boards because I have never built a computer before and I read that they are not very noob friendly. I budgeted about $240 for the motherboard, so I just picked a good one that fell inside the budget, if anyone has any better ideas please let me know.
I don't plan on overclocking the computer either, which is why I kept the RAM at 1333 instead of 1600.
I also may end up putting in another gtx 460 and running both in the future for a graphics boost so I'm wondering if my power supply will be able to handle it. Should I increase it to a 750 watt?
So is this build a lot better than the pre-made, or should I buy from HP?
Neither. You should go with the custom made option, just not that setup. You've got the wrong RAM (dual channel not triple channel), a slow HDD, a lower powered card (for your budget) and a lesser board. Here's what I'd build with $1,500 (including an OS):
Assuming you need the i7's hyperthreading for some reason (AutoCAD at school or something), here's a build that's still reasonable for gaming (though not as good as MadAdmiral's build). Links/prices were old, have been double-checked, no combos included.
$1489 without shipping (though most items have free shipping), no OS (assuming educational Win7 for ~ $30)
EDIT: Thanks for tracking down some combos, MadAdmiral. SLI 460 might be better, was just trying to leave the option open for later. Getting those combos + the HAF 922/Win 7 combo still leaves the price under $1500, and doesn't rely on the educational discount.
$1500 will buy you a very nice custom rig...however, do you NEED to spend $1500??
What are you going to be using this computer for??
I can completely understand that there is a little goblin on your shoulder telling you that you NEED a $1500 computer...but...word from the wise...spending hours playing video games while college homework stacks up is not a wise choice...
also, book bills add up quickly!!
Now, you may have all this other stuff figured out (books, transport, food, etc.) and in that case, ignore my rant about using the money for other items...
But the main question still stands, what will this rig be used for?
I really can't thank you guys enough for all the help, you're really making this computer come alive.
I'll be using the computer for programs like Autocad and Inventor, but I'll also be playing games like Dawn of War 2 and Mass Effect 2. But really the main reason I picked out the i7-930 is because the microcenter by me has a deal going where I can pick one up for $200.
Right now I think i'll be following ColdSleep's build but with MacAdmiral's combo deal additions, those were a great find. I'm going to try and add a second GTX 460 but it might be just one for a little while.
I already have Windows 7 (sometimes it's great to be a student), a good set of speakers, and I'll be salvaging the DVD Reader/Burner from my old computer.