College Student System, first build

We aren't allowed to have TVs in our rooms at the college I attend, and you quickly learn that for an avid Xbox player a community TV isn't the most welcoming option. I could connect my Xbox to a PC monitor, but real estate is a premium in a dorm room even considering I have no roommate. PC Gaming is just much more convenient and many games I enjoy are only for PC anyway, especially the Total War series. While past games run reasonably well on my newest laptop, I'm looking to upgrade to a quality desktop system heading into my second year. Caveats: It has to be relatively cheap, and it has to stay that way. What I mean is that I can handle upgrading the video card once in a while and maybe some other stuff, but for the next 3-4 years I don't want to have to do a major system upgrade or build from scratch again in order to keep playing modern games.

For my budget, I'm trying to be flexible. I already have a video card, monitor, and hard drive. For the rest of the components I have a hard limit of $600. May as well list out all my ideas and I'm just looking for all you guys' recommendations as I'm new to this whole computer building thing. Hopefully you'll get the idea of what I'm looking for. Just so you're aware I do most of my shopping at a local Micro Center as I like to support them. Unless there's a deal on newegg significantly better than a Micro Center price I'll be going in store.

Motherboard approx $120
MSI P67A-C43

3 options I have here, all low end P67s in order to allow processor overclocking. Asus being the most expensive makes it the least appealing. Unless a motherboard has some killer app that I need really really want, I'd like the cheapest effective price.

CPU $180
Intel Core i5-2500K

The idea here is a clearly great processor today with the potential for overclocking when it gets a bit older in the future. Is this feasible or do you think I'll have to upgrade the CPU during this PC's lifetime? If so I'd want to switch to i3 now.

Edit: It seems Micro Center is taking $40 off any intel 1155 MoBo bought with an i5-2500k. Makes this seem like the best deal for sure assuming the deal continues until this Monday when I go in. They have the same thing for AM3/AM3+ if anyone thinks it's the best idea to go AMD, however Sandy Bridge seems to me to be the best choice for the longevity I seek.

Memory ?
I don't really have anything picked out. I figure as long as a pick a solid brand and the right kind for the MoBo it'll be alright. Increased RAM performance isn't worth increased cost to me in an already speedy DDR3 environment. However I'm not sure whether to go for 4GB or 8GB now. Would it be worth it in the coming years to pick up 8GB at this point?

Graphics already owned
Radeon HD 6850

I already have this, so it's being used. I accept that I'll have to upgrade eventually, but that's the nature of video cards these days.

HDD already owned
Also have one of these from a different computer. It's 3GB/s, 6GB/s upgrade not worth the money when I already have a hdd.

Optical already owned
Cheap $20 DVD burner. If Blu-ray ever actually replaces DVD it'll mean Blu-ray drives are cheaper than now. Frankly, I'll upgrade then because I don't care much about Blu-ray.

Power supply ?
600W-700W. I realize this is over what I need. But I also realize that realistically I'll have to upgrade some components sometime and I'd like to know I'm safe in the psu department.

Monitor already owned
Once again I have this already, so don't bother making suggestions. It's a 19inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1440x900.

Case approx $60
No idea. Obviously a low end mid-tower. Try to keep suggestions under $60. If it's *really* good maybe I'll go higher. Air flow is main priority here.
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  1. I would recommend the MSI P67A-G43, since it has 2 PCIe slots that allow for SLI/Crossfire later (future proof in case graphics get outdated).
    For RAM, I would go with G.skill, as they are reliable, for future proofing, you can go with 8GB, even though they are overkill right now. You can go with this RAM:
  2. r0aringdrag0n said:
    I would recommend the MSI P67A-G43, since it has 2 PCIe slots that allow for SLI/Crossfire later (future proof in case graphics get outdated).
    For RAM, I would go with G.skill, as they are reliable, for future proofing, you can go with 8GB, even though they are overkill right now. You can go with this RAM:

    Is XFire/SLI really going to phase out single graphics cards? I'm afraid I'm not too well read up on it so if this is true that is a compelling reason to go with the G43 MoBo for price.
  3. Best answer
    In all likelyhood, No, Crossfire/SLIU won't phase out sinle graphics cards. SLI is actually being *semi* phased out now as more powerful GPU's are coming out that can handle 3, 5 7+ monitors on one card.

    i5 should last you several years. I have a Q6600 build that's lasted me 3 years an I anticipate it to last another 2-3 as a secondary/thirddary machine. "futureproofing" is a giant snipe hunt and is like predicting earthquakes. It just won't happen. You can spend $10,000 on a brand new machine but it STILL won't be future-proof. Find something you like, stick with it, and upgrade when YOU see necessary. The 560 (Fermi) cards seem pretty solid, AND semi affordable so one of thoise should sit you through 2 years. and i5 2500K should be usable for at least 3 years, Get 4 gigs RAM minimum and upgrades will always be easy.

    Biggest thing to keep in mind is double or triple channel memory. This can cause problems. If you get a triple channel board, get 6GB RAM, Dual channel board, get 4GB. (6GB is an easier configuration but still much more RAM than necessary)

    I would get Corsair memory, great customer service. I had terrible luck with G. Skill and stay away from them, as I do most other manufacturers. Kingston, Corsair...yep, about it in my machines.

    Enjoy college! Have fun, study hard, and party hardy!
  4. Best answer selected by addictedkoala.
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