My goal was to build the best PC possible for $500 - capable of handling video recording / rendering and light gaming. I don't think many people would dispute that Intel makes the best chips on the market, but I found that the best bang for my buck was definitely with AMD. The six-core processor I selected had a noisy and ineffective stock cooler so I invested in an aftermarket cooler that I have been really really happy with - keeps my chip running really cool without noticeable fan noise. I chickened out and used ceramic thermal paste (albeit a highly reviewed brand) because I didn't trust myself to avoid smearing some on the motherboard. I splurged a bit for the SSD drive that I installed my (questionably legit) copy of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on but I think it was worth it - this machine is usable at the desktop in under 30 seconds from a cold boot and Windows / Sony Vegas runs incredibly fast. I'm really happy with how everything came together and with the performance I've been getting for the price!
Edit: My parts list didn't include the aftermarket cooler I used so I added that.
Also, the build total says $600 but when I purchased the parts the total was actually around $500. You can see if you look at the total price fluctuation under the completed build.
Also added a shot of the inside - I know the cable management is horrible. :P
I think I'll add a PCI-E card with 6g/s SATA ports.
|CPU||AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core||$108.00||Newegg|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing||$29.98||OutletPC|
|Motherboard||Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+||$49.79||Newegg|
|Memory||G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600||$79.99||Newegg|
|Storage||Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 60GB 2.5" SSD||$44.99||Newegg|
|Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM||$51.98||OutletPC|
|Video Card||Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB|
|Case||Raidmax ATX-298WW ATX Mid Tower||$62.98||SuperBiiz|
|Power Supply||Corsair 430W ATX12V||$19.99||Newegg|
|AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor|
|CPU Clock Rate||3.5GHz|
|CPU Temperature While Idle||-|
|CPU Temperature Under Load||-|