BUDGET RANGE: $800-1000 After Rebates - under 900 would be better but I can go to 1k if justified.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 ready in the future, possibly Dragon Age 2, The Witcher 2), regular internet use, browsing videos etc.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I have a monitor(Acer X213H) and speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States
PARTS PREFERENCES: None.
OVERCLOCKING: Not at this time.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No - I imagine I would just get another single GPU in a few years as a replacement.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080 - max for my monitor @ 60Hz
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This will be my first new PC since 2002. I had been waiting for Diablo 3 release but I can't take it anymore . I've helped build some systems but that was at least 10 years ago when we still had to worry about IRQs, motherboard jumper settings etc.
I'm fairly happy with the build I have listed below, I went for as many combos as possible as I've seen others suggest. My one big concern is the OCZ ram and it compatibility with the Asus motherboard in the combo. My guess is that it will register at 1333 and I will have to manually set to 1600 but I'm not too experienced with doing that.
Please let me know what you think of the build I have listed below, if you see any mistakes I've made or if I could get better bang for my buck with different options please let me know. Thanks for taking a look.
Between the 2 builds, if you're not interested in using SLI, I'd go for batuchka's. A 5850 standalone is better than a GTX 460 standalone. The 965 is slightly faster than the 955, but it's just the same thing with a factory overclock. It's very easy to set the speed to that of a 965 if you want to, since they have an unlocked multiplier.
In regards to thermal paste, the CPU will come with a CPU cooler and includes thermal paste. If you decide to overclock the CPU later (or to start with) then buying a better cooler (Cooler Master Hyper 212+) brings with it more thermal paste.
Also consider buying a low-level gaming mouse like the Logitech MX-518. It's not much more expensive, but can be really great.