I've done what research I could, and I think I have a solid build for my purposes, but my main concerns are whether the 500W PSU will be enough for this (the model I'm looking at is on sale, so I'd like to jump on the deal if it's guaranteed to handle my needs), and if the GPU is worthwhile. I'm still not 100% decided on the case/mobo, but I think those components will be some of the last I buy, so I'm in no rush to decide.
Approximate Purchase Date: Over the course of 2 months (I'll be sales hunting, but not waiting past Jan/Feb), starting today
Budget Range: $900 before rebates. The cheaper the better, but I'm willing to pay more for quality/longevity.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Photoshop (photo editing & manipulation, graphic design), Flash animation, casual gaming (Starcraft II, HoN), internet surfing/music/general multi-tasking
Parts Not Required: HDD, monitor, keyboard/mouse
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon.. Open to others
Parts Preferences: I've always had great experience with Asus products, but I can buy into anything with enough recommendations
Overclocking: Future Probability
SLI or Crossfire: Not Planned
Monitor Resolution: 1280x960, with plans to upgrade in the future
6870 is overkill for that low resolution. I have a slightly overclocked 6850 and a 4.2 GHz i5 2500k, and I run SC2 at 200 FPS at 1080p maxed out in a 1v1 and that PSU isn't Corsair's best but at that price, I guess it's ok. If you're going to overclock, get the P8Z68-V because if you go with the maximus, your CPU cooler will block 1-2 Ram slots. And overclocking is a good idea. There's a huge difference when it comes to CPU intensive tasks.
Funny you'd say the 6870 is overkill, cause someone else had told me it wouldn't be enough if I ever upgraded the monitor. But I'm glad that's not the case, and the 6850 by the same brand is $50 cheaper which gives me even more wiggle room to upgrade the PSU.
My only questions now are whether or not 500W is enough for this build, and what features make a 'good' PSU (i.e. what should I be looking for)?
You should first look for an PSU that is by a reliable company such as Corsair, Antec, PC Power and Cooling, OCZ Technology, Enermax. On the September Marathon Builder, here at tom's hardware, they built an overclocked Phenom II, 6870 build on a 430w PSU. The ModXStream Series are fairly decent, modular, and cheap. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E... really, any decent 600w will be able to run a single GPU system, even one that might have something as powerful as a GTX 580.