Thanks for the help! So I found the SLI and Crossfire FAQ. Do you think that will be necessary? Also, is my view of overclocking ignorant? It's my first time building a computer from scratch and I don't want to make a stupid mistake. Is the build you've shown easily upgradable? One of the reasons I liked the idea of building my own computer is so I could be able to upgrade gradually with the times instead of buying a whole new computer each time. Is there any good guides you can point me to? I know what each type of component does, but knowing how each part is chosen is beyond me.
EDIT: How quiet does this build run? What causes the grinding noises I hear sometimes in my Mom's computer?
EDIT: You forgot the link for the "120 GB SSD: $205". It links to the RAM.
As for upgrading. The motherboard I included is a lower-end board that won't really support overclocking or Crossfire/SLI -- no overclock ability in the chipset, and only one GPU slot precludes those. though $30 more on the CPU and $60 more on the motherboard would get a 2600K and an MSI P67-M45 motherboard that allows both overclocking and Crossfire.
Even without that, its still upgradeable as you go: the Chipset can handle 2x 8 GB chips, when those become reasonably priced, and Intel's Ivy Bridge 22nm chips due in 2012 are supposed to fit on the board. SATA 3 and USB 3 are on the board for faster hard drives in the future, and you can always swap in a more powerful GPU and/or Power Supply
you want the SSD for its lightning fast speed as your cache when rendering, and for fast loading of your OS and programs. When a project is complete, you want to move it to the larger drive, where you'll store less used programs, large files, and completed projects.
Okay, I'll trust your experience. One last question. Once you have everything put together, is there some kind of test program I can use to make sure everything is working as advertized? I'd hate to do something wrong and find out a year later.
Windows loading in and of itself indicates everything is working, but you can try some burn-in programs liek Prime 95, Furmark, Memtest 86, the SiSoft Sandra nd 3DMark11 benchmarks as well.
Prime 95 and Furmark are used to test chips for errors when overclocking, they SERIOUSLY stress your cpu/gpu: 24 hours of Prime 95 is like using your CPU for 3 months straight, while furmark for 12 hours is the same for your GPU. Don't run them to excess.