I am on the fence between a Dell XPS 8500, with the ivy bridge i-5, and 8 gb of ram and the Dell Inspiron 620 with 8 gb of ram and the sandy beach i-5. With a sale coupon, the Inspiron prices in at just over $500.00 USD. The stock xps 8500 is $750.00 USD. Either way I plan to upgrade the graphics, although I may be able to avoid a PSU upgrade on the XPS.
As far as graphics, any advice on HD 6850, 6870, and 7770 would be appreciated. I guess it's clear that I'm looking to confine the GPU to les than $200.00 USD.
Thanks for the build details. I have been away for a while, so missed your detailed reply. I am not much in the confidence arena for a build, yet. I will likely be putting aside the build option for later. My main rule in buying a PC is get as much processor as I can. I am looking now at the Dell XPS i7 with the coupon until July 4, and will keep base graphics for a while. I think that most gaming I do on the PC is real time strategy/Total War/ etc type stuff, where the GPU can wait a while.