Higher/Low-End Mix

I broke down and started buying parts, hoping to hunt great deals over the next month or so. This is my 3rd build but first in 3+ years, so I am out of the loop.

I don't have an exact budget so much as I want to find good value toward the future and slowly build a nice system. I think I mainly need help with the CPU/mobo/case/fan choices and might spend $300-600 on these pretty quickly to just get something together better than what I have now.

I don't need a keyboard, mouse, or DVD drive. I'm using a Samsung F2380 monitor @1920x1080 and would like to have the ability to add a 2nd (guess that is pretty standard nowadays). Crossfire/SLI doesn't seem very important to me. I'll probably use Newegg/Amazon/TD and maybe even Microcenter, though it is a bit out of the way sometimes.

I'd like to spend some time to learn how to gently overclock the system but am not planning to go nuts. How I plan to use the system and other parts I have so far are below, then I will update my thoughts on the other pieces as we go.

I haven't been doing much gaming besides occasional Minecraft/Civ5 type of demands, so I will probably start with a cheap/onboard GPU though I would like to be able to upgrade and play modern games reasonably well in a later wave. I use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator a lot, along with having a half dozen PDFs, a few dozen browser windows, and assorted programs like Eclipse or Excel open. I don't need anything special for music or video.

PSU: Antec BP550 Plus - This is a leftover part and upgrading isn't out of the question, but I figure 550W is strong enough to start.

Memory: 16GB (4x4GB) G.Skill Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1600 - Just bought these for $60 at Newegg. Maybe 16GB is overkill, but I briefly read about using a RAMdisk for the page file with Photoshop and it could be worth the extra $30.

CPU/Mobo: I have no clue what to do here since I just started research and would like to get any really sweet BF/CM deals. I'm okay with spending $200+ on each of these if it is worth it. One thing I noticed is that USB 3.0 headers (to connect to front ports on cases?) are not yet standard, but that seems like something I might like to have down the line.

Case/Fans: I'm okay with spending a bit here and would prefer at least 4 USB front ports. Otherwise, I don't care if the case is bulky, super quiet, has LEDs or whatever.

HDD: I will continue to use my one older SATA 600GB disk, but a slot for a 2nd 1TB+ after prices go back down is a must.

SSD: Never had one so I don't see it as the highest priority. I have no clue what is good though I might spring for a great deal on a 64-128GB. Would I benefit from RAID or waiting to budget for bigger sizes?

GPU: I'll stick with onboard or something ~$40 to start if I can get away with it. Eventually I'd like to go with a $100-150 type of card, though I am not sure if I will ever need 2.

OS: I have started to dabble in Linux and might leave Windows for the old computer where I haven't been able to figure out how to get WINE to run things. I don't know why I haven't been able to get the hang of VMs but maybe that is a solution too. I had way more of a problem getting dual booting to work than I expected, so I don't know if new UEFI is something I want.

Sorry if I overlooked anything and thanks for the help. Have a nice Thanksgiving!
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  1. May I ask your budget for the build?
  2. I really don't have a hard cap, though I am trying to keep the cost down and use my money elsewhere. It seems like $300-600 for CPU/Mobo/Case and any fans is reasonable if I am snagging deals. It's spur of the moment I decided to build a new computer so I really need to make time after the holiday to learn what the tech nowadays is. I'd like to get all the pieces by the end of the year, but am not just going to buy everything on Black Friday.

    I think the reason I got USB 3.0 Headers in my head was starting to look at boards like the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68. If it is worth it to go up to their $175 or $235 boards then I would, but I haven't been able to look at other companies' similar offering yet.

    My DVD burner and hard drive are older SATA (1.0?) so I don't know if that is a problem with more future proof motherboards. Do I want an i5 2400/2500 or would it be better to go even cheaper and get a better SSD or something?

    I don't know yet about stuff like PCIe 3.0 if it is worth it to jump to boards like that or if I should wait. I could end up going a more budget build for the time being because I could hand down the system to a family member. The last computer I built died in a freak accident and wasn't much better than the 3GB RAM Compaq I am using now, so just a modest step up and not something cutting edge is in play too.
  3. Depends on what you really want to build, if you want a $500 system, then it's best to go with an i3, else, you would want an i5 2500k because it allows for overclocking. If you aren't going to overclock then go with the i5 2400, which is about $20 cheaper
  4. $500 Build:

    CPU: Intel core i3 2100 $125 (normal) $110 black friday deals
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115078

    Graphics: SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 $145
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

    MoBo: ASRock H61M-VS $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157241

    PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171031

    Case: NZXT Gamma $36
    http://www.amazon.com/GAMMA-Classic-Interior-Chassis-Black/dp/B002UDK9U6

    HDD: WD 320GB $70 (great deal due to high HDD prices)
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Western+Digital+-+320GB+Internal+Hard+Drive+for+Desktops/7821985.p?id=1142294266836&skuId=7821985

    RAM: Team Elite 8GB Model TED38192M1333C9DC $35
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313123

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    DVD-ROM: SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X $19 (normal) $16 Black friday deals
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151233

    Total: $527 (around $500 after rebates and with black friday deals [cpu, dvd rom])

    $1000 build:

    CPU: Intel i5 2500k $225 (normal) $200 black friday deals
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072

    Graphics: ECS NGTX570-1280UI-F GeForce GTX 570 $330
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814134125

    MoBo: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $125
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157271

    PSU: Antec EarthWatts Series EA-750 Green 750W $80
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371051

    Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout $70
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196

    HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB $110

    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL $37 (normal) $30 Black friday deals
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314

    Heatsink+Fan: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO $35
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099

    DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM: SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X $19 (normal) $16 Black friday deals
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151233

    Total: $1031, once again, it'll reach about $1000 with black friday deals (i counted the i5 as $225 not $200) and rebates, maybe a litle more for shipping
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