I live in Nagoya, Japan and we're having a trip to Tokyo, Disneland which makes Japan's technology complex, Akihabara accessible for me (without spending ￥20000 by bullet train). I'll be buying parts there. Forgive me if my English is not perfect.
Here's the form I copied somewhere:
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: August 10, 2011
BUDGET RANGE: ￥60000-￥80000 ($760-$1000)
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Playing games (especifically Civilizations V, and latest The Sims), Video conversion.
Japanese website. sorry, but this makes it sure that the parts are also available here in Japan. Please ask me should you want a certain list to show.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
PARTS PREFERENCES: Ok, i5-2500k might be better but I'll prefer AMD Phenom II x6, a good mobo to crossfire and overclock a little. At least 4gb of RAM. GPU, that is from AMD and that can play above mentioned games flawlessly.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, Xfire
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 and above is good for me.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The cheaper the better. The more future proof the better.
Unfortunately my Japanese is much much worse than your english
CPU: Phenom II x6 1100T 18380 yen
Mem: Corsair Vengeane 2x2GB 1.5V CAS9 1600Mhz ram 3180 yen
MB: ASRock 870 Extreme3 R2.0 8880 yen
GPU: MSI Radeon 6850 15480 yen ( possibly 6870 or 6950 if you have money for it ~19000 for 6870, 24000 for 6950)
Case: Antec 300 7480 yen
case fans: Geilid Silent12 PWM 1180 yen x 2
PSU: Corsair TX750 V2 11980 yen ( this can handle 2 6870's at least, probably 2 6950's as well )
HDD: Seagate 1TB 4470 yen
DVD: Lite-On 24x DVD+/-RW 2200 yen
Total: 74410 yen
Should be able to find all those from the site.
Doesn't have a monitor, no idea what you would like below a suggestion on specs.
Then basically grab a fullHD monitor between 21.5" and 24". Preferably <5ms response time.
And a basic keyboard like keytronic.
And generally if you don't have enough kick, just add another one of your chosen GPU for crossfire and you should be ok.
The motherboard is perfect for my needs, no integrated graphics and crossfire at 8x/8x. But I'm afraid that I can't find it in brick & mortar stores here in Japan. Can you suggest other boards just in case.
Yes, the Civ5 graphics redraw kinda slow, so I could use a good GPU. All I'm saying is I have personal experience that this works, and only needs a minor upgrade to be "good".
Focusing on your concerns about overkill and your AMD preferences, you could compare these specs with whatever is available today and probably save some yen. The only reason to increase is future-proofing.