Advice for a newbie's first build ($2000~$2500)

Hey guys,

I am a newbie in terms of building my own computer, so I figured I would ask for help from some of you pros out there who've completed a few builds themselves. Basically I’m a student with a bit too much time on my hands during the summer so I figured I would start a project to keep myself out of trouble haha. Anyways, I have a budget of around $2000.00 (not including monitor). I plan on mainly using my computer for academic work, which can be graphically intense (3d molecular modeling), and programming. I do also DJ—so I use some pretty hardcore audio production software as well. Really, the only thing that I would like to for sure stick with is intel processors, other than that I'm open to suggestions. I am curious as to what you guys think about these components in terms of capability, compatibility, and overall worth (cost to value). So here's what I have so far:

1) Intel core i7-3770 Ivy-Bridge (Didn't consider the K since it's out of stock and I would like to order parts ASAP) ($319)

This is the part that I am particularly in need of help with. Right now I am between two motherboards:
1) ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard ($229)
2) ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard ($439)
I am starting to lean towards option #2, however I could just be wasting money too... This is why I am definitely needing some help!

1) GIGABYTE GV-N680OC-2GD GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 ($524)

I’m not quite sure on this part either. I know that I want a minimum of 16 GB—preferably 2 x 8 GB. I've been reading that G.Skill ares series are a sound choice, but yet again I'm kind of stuck here too being that this pretty new to me… As of right now I was thinking maybe this:
1) G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) ($139)

Hard Drive:
I plan on dual booting Windows 7 ultimate and Linux (possibly tri-booting with IOS in the future).
1) Kingston HyperX SH100S3B/120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) ($179)
2) Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARX 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ($119)

1) Thermaltake Level 10 GT (VN10001W2N) ATX Full Tower ($239)

1) Thermaltake TR2 RX 750W Bronze W0382RU ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 ($89)

1) SONY Black Blu-ray Burner BWU-500S ($109)

Any help would really be appreciated since I am new to building computers, and the fact that I am a student and don’t have unlimited funds to blow on useless parts. Also, I am almost certain that I have made at least a few newbie mistakes with part matching and whatnot, so I apologize in advance for those who are willing to take the time to help me out with this. Again, I really appreciate any feedback!

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  1. That all looks pretty good to me but I really dislike Thermaltake - the Level 10 is an ugly monstrosity with a lot of cheap plastic used - and they make really horrible power supplies.

    Here's what I would recommend for a case and PSU:


    Then instead of the Gigabyte 680 get this instead:

    I also don't like Sandforce SSDs and if you're running mission critical applications the instability of the Sandforce controller won't be good. Get this instead:

    More on the Vertex 4:,3172.html

    You also don't need Windows 7 Ultimate either - you only need it if you're running the language packs or XP emulation mode. Pro will handle everything you need and then some.

    I'd also recommend looking into X79 - the extra cores of the 3930K and higher RAM capacity will greatly speed up rendering applications and RAM hungry programs like Adobe CS5/6 and After Effects.

    Here's an X79 build I recommend:

    Case: NZXT Switch 810 - $169.99
    PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer MKII 950W - $149.99
    Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X79 - $319.99
    CPU: 3.2Ghz Intel Core i7-3930K - $559.99
    Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 Socket LGA 2011 Edition - $87.99
    RAM: 32GB Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 1600MHz 1.5V - $219.99
    SSD: 128GB OCZ Vertex 4 - $129.99
    HD: 2TB Samsung Ecogreen F4 - $129.99
    Optical: LG 14X BD-R Burner - $79.99
    Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 680 Superclocked Edition - $519.99

    Total: $2,344.89
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