Parts Preferences: I'm an intel and asus fanboy, always loved their parts.
Overclocking: I don't know. This depends on how much performance difference I can actually see and if it will make any difference gaming.
SLI or Crossfire: I could care less really.
Monitor Resolution: 1440x900
Additional Comments: Basically, just need some advice on parts, not really sure where to start, and I would also like some advice on overclocking. I'm not planning on doing any extreme gaming because of school to take care of, but I'd like to be able to play games on a decent setting SMOOTHLY with some capability for future games (I will upgrade as needed).
At that resolution i would go with a 2500k paired with a 560 ti. Asus have really nice motherboards, but for the price you might consider an ASRock Z68 Extreme 3 or Pro 3 board (just trying to offer an alternative). Let me throw some parts around in newegg.
Keep in mind:
I'm waiting for Ivy Bridge, which you do not necessarily have to do.
Also, many of the parts I bought had sales/rebates that may or may not be expired by now. However, my build should give you a rough idea of a solid system in or under your price range.
I really like this a lot, thanks. Just a few questions: After the cooler master heatsink, would I need any more fans besides the stock ones in the case and video card or should I stick a 200mm on the top for even more airflow because I'm considering overclocking? And to make use of the PCIe 3.0 slot, should I get the new HD7000 lineup or wait for nvidea?
the additional fans are nice to keep temps down. To be honest though, i would start with the basic setup and then add the fans later. It looks to me like the case is going to ship with a 120mm intake fan in the front and 120mm exaust in the rear. It also looks to have the option to change the front to a 200mm fan and have extra spaces for a 120mm fan on the side panel and a 200mm fan on the top.
The difference between PCIe 2.0 and 3.0 is the bandwidth available. PCIe 3.0 has twice the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0. However, even the GTX 680 does not fully saturate the bandwidth of a PCIe 2.0 x16, so this is less of a concern than you might think. The 7850 is a faster card for a similar price to the 560 ti, so unless you plan on waiting for the rest of the kepler line up (no word on dates to my knowledge), i would spring for that card.