I've been looking through other threads and benchmark results here for the last few months and I've put together what seems to be commonly suggested. No sense in buying the parts without some last minute advice from the community, though! Any suggestions or comments are much appreciated.
Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Z77 ATX Intel Motherboard
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000)
Sapphire Radeon 7950 3GB
Toshiba 1 tb 7200 rpm 3.5 " HDD
Samsung 830 256g SDD or maybe just 128g
CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 600W Power Supply
Some CD drive
Now I've been reading that the mobo and 7950 might not fit in some mid-tower cases, so should I play it safe and just get a full sized case? Tom also didn't suggest any graphics card over the radeon 7870, but the 7950 benchmarks around 36% better in every category and it overclocks better, it appears. I do not plan on overclocking anything out of the box but I want this build to keep me satisfied for a long time. I'll probably look into overclocking a few years down the line just to keep this thing competitive for a little while longer-- hence why I am paying the extra $30 for i5-3570 and not just getting the 3550.
And for curiosity's sake, is FEA in Solidworks be more CPU or GPU reliant? Thanks.