Beginner trying to build, $800-$1000 budget

Hi, I'm a total newbie at this but I've had this idea to try doing my own set-up for some time already and have started reading (at least, tried to, since there were a lot of things that I have not understood sadly). I would be very happy if I could be able to have a functional(? working?) understanding of stuff but, if not, I'm totally fine with being able to build a satisfactory machine (given your recommendations). Also, um, I'm saying sorry in advance if ever I ask annoying newbie questions... and ask a lot of them. >_>;;

Erm, anyways, regarding the questions, here are my answers:

Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime March/April, so that would be from 2 weeks to a month of data gathering (AKA asking around for prices and best hardware choices). :)

Budget Range: Formally, $800 - $1,000 but of course, if I could get a cheaper total, that would be great and I would also prefer a total nearer to $800. :D I mean, I do understand that I should spend to get, if not exceptional, then quality performance but since the prices would remain estimates until I actually buy the part and since there's a chance that a part could cost me more than the estimate, if the total's near my lower budget bracket, I would have some budget space for the difference.

System Usage from Most to Least Important:

- 2D and 3D Animation/Graphic/Video editing and Web Development (for work) -- programs I run usually are Adobe CS5 PS/AI/ID/DW/Flash/CF, Maya 2010, AutoCAD, MS Visual Studio 2010 (for ASP.NET mostly, which means I need an OS that has IIS7 for local testing), Flipbook (occasionally), and of course, the usual web browsers (IE 8/9, FF, Safari, Chrome, and Opera).

- Moderate gaming. Though I could live without it, I still would prefer being able to play games. But I would be okay with being able to just play games AKA have non-optimal requirements. It doesn't need to run with exceptional performance and/or graphics. Basically, as long as I have at least greater specs than the minimum. I don't HAVE to HAVE the best... I hope I explained that well? If not, sorry... :(

- Internet surfing (unfortunately, I use a Wi-Fi connection so I should have a Wi-Fi adapter), and the usual programs.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, speakers.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: None. I like looking online for hardware specs and recs but I prefer buying at local shops because 1. I don't have to handle shipping costs and stress (since my local customs and postal office sucks), and 2. it's more secure since I would be getting the parts immediately after payment and I wouldn't have to pay via CC/Paypal/Wire Transfer. ^_^

Country of Origin: China or Philippines. (I travel between the two countries often.)

Parts Preferences: None, but I have some questions about graphic cards and processors. Between AMD and Intel processors, since I have a limited budget, do you think the cheaper AMD processor is better? I mean, if there isn't that much of a difference in terms of my regular usage (like I specified above), so that I could give more budget to other parts. Also, I would like to have a dual-display. I already have one 15" flat LED screen so I only need 1 monitor more--am thinking of getting a Samsung or an HP LCD Monitor and setting aside around $150 for that.

Overclocking: Erm, no preference? Sorry, I guess this got too technical for me. I did some background reading on overclocking and, as far as I understood it, it just basically means making your computer "over-perform" to get better results? (AM I WRONG? GAH, sorry... @_@) I mean, obviously, I want my computer to perform well (or better) but since I do not know what the "cons" of overclocking is/are, I think it's better if I ask you guys about this (since you guys know more about it).

SLI or Crossfire: This is also one of those technical stuffs that I didn't understand too well, sorry... :(

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (for one display) and 1280x768 (for the other display).

Thank you very much in advance! :)
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  1. Oh, and, er, sorry for the length of my explanation. I tend to ramble, it's a bad habit. @_@
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