Budget is 500-700. I'm just making this for gaming (ARMA 2, BF2, and possibly ARMA 3 in the future) and maybe a little recording. I'm upgrading because my laptop has started playing games (well, Vindictus) with terribly low framerate.
I've already got a mouse, keyboard, monitor and W7 though I might get a new monitor later, 1680x1050 being the biggest I'll probably go. I don't think I want to overclock and I don't care for sli/crossfire either.
Is the i5 worth it? Seems like it might help in the future with more games being quad core compatible or so I've heard. I was also thinking of upgrading to a 7850 if it's a big enough upgrade.
The Samsung Spinpoint has a warranty that was reduced to a miserable one year. Look for at least a three year warranty; most of the WD Black drives still have a five year warranty.
I'd get a dual-channel RAM kit (two sticks). While 2x2GB is still enough, getting 2x4GB may give you a little more future-resistance.
I'd get an IB CPU like an i5-3470. It's a little faster, uses a little less power, and gives you PCIe3.0; not a big deal today, but again might offer a little bit of future-resistance.
That motherboard is fine. Guess what... you can go cheaper on those if you don't have a huge budget and it's a good brand. Secondly the 6950 is worse than a 7870. Although that is a good price but I don't like the brand of the cheaper one so if he does get one make it the Sapphire. Don't get an i3 but do get a ivy bridge i5 if you can.