OS will be Win Pro 7 64 bit
Please give me your honest critique. Where am I going wrong / coming up short / mis-spending or just missing the whole point. This will be my first build. I do have an alternative that is a little more pricey that I'll post. But I would like to hear what you guys say about the cost effectiveness / performance / reliability of this machine first.
An example of a change I might make would be to use the: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition - 3.20GHz But won't a good heatsync cost $70. Since I'm not planning to OC I don't know that its worth it.
For the HDD, do NOT get the Barracuda, Spinpoint is the way to go, anyone will agree on that
Actually, no. Not everyone will agree on that. Both drives have 2x 500 GB platters and have very similar performance. I would recommend getting whichever one is less expensive at the time of purchase.
At $1000, an i5 is within budget if you want it. You should be able to get a better graphics card if you go AMD, however. Going with AMD, you should probably go with an 870 chipset (like this Gigabyte 870A-UD3 for $99, rather than the 880G motherboard.
CPU - Athlon II X3 (lower budget) or Phenom II X4 (higher budget)
Mobo - see above
RAM - 4 GB DDR3, specs not that important if you're on a budget
GPU - any 6850 - $200
The rest of the original build I thought was fine (especially fine choice on the PSU), though you might want to investigate other cases unless you really like the looks of that one.
No time for a complete build at the moment, will try to get back to this.