RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8gb (2x4gb) $25 after rebate
I'm trying to spend hopefully around$500, a little more if needed.
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I'd only recommend a nvidia card if you plan on getting a gtx 6xx series card. You can get much better performance out of the SAPPHIRE 11188-22-20G Radeon HD 6950 in comparison to a lower end nvidia card.
I agree with DeusAres. The Radeon 6950 is probably your best bet for that price range. I would spend a bit more though and get a Radeon 7850. Its an extra $50 compared to the 6950.
Yup, if you have the extra $50 to throw in the build, get the 7850. It's a newer card, consumes less power, and performs on par with the 6970. You can also overclock the hell outta that card more so than the 6950.