I want to build a computer to run tf2 at recommended settings and higher. Can I get a pretty accurate price range of what should I spend to meet these needs while also being cost effective too? And even some specs of what I should buy specifically would be great as well!
TF2 is a pretty old game and building a system for that wouldn't be able to play any new games. A $400 or even less will be able to play it maxed but if you ever feel you want to play another newer game, you just wasted $400. Specs would be around athlon x3, 4gb ram, 5770 which is still an overkill but its already so low spec I wouldn't go lower.
If all you want is Source Engine games (HL2, Orange Box, Portal 2, TF2, etc.), then you don't need to spend more than $250 to play them around max settings. If you'd like to play games based of an engine that's newer than 2004, you should spend $450.
Do you want the cheapest possible that gets it done, or a computer that will be solid in two years? You could pick up a used build for $200 in classifieds here that will do what you're asking.
Athlon 64 x2 5000+/Intel E2200, 2GB DDR2, & Radeon 5570/GeForce 9600GT will max out TF2 @ 1680x1050. You should NEVER buy a new computer this terrible--used on a deal...maybe?
Come to think of it, it might be very possible to get a computer for $100 that will max out TF2. You'll have to scrounge around in the Classifieds section begging for parts though. I've got a DDR 775 mobo I'll send for shipping cost.