I've been watching the different builds on DigitalStormOnline, but was never happy with the final product/cost combo. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this site and saw so many stories of success. I figured I would read up and give it a try. WOW... lots of reading and research. Knowing what parts to get, and what parts work well with each other (or more importantly don't work well) is more than half the battle. Finally, I had my list together and assembled on this site. Here is the decision process for picking each of the below items as well as my experience. Hope you enjoy this build.
Most parts purchased in Feb 2014:
CPU: I wanted the i5-4670K, because I wasn't looking for hyper-threading, but wanted a processor I could eventually OC to something in the 4.2-4.4 range with decent air cooling. Got it on NewEgg after with an IronEgg price match of $224.99.
Cooler & Compound: I know water is cooler, but it also freaks me out a little. I went with the air cooling solution most builders here are getting: the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo. The thing is HUGE and the 'one size fits all' bracket takes some figuring out. Once you determine the airflow, bracket size, and screw placement, you can add compound to the CPU and lock her in. Did not use stock paste, but used a small amount of Artic Silver 5. Note: on first out of box POST, this unit triggered a low fan speed error. (560 RPM). Did some research and found this to be common sometimes the first time. Disabled the check in the BIOS and everything worked. Now it runs happily at 600's-700 idle and faster 880+ under load. NewEgg with $5 rebate for $29.99.
Motherboard: Asus Z87-A. Went with Asus due to reputation and successful builds here. Went with the -A series, because I dont need all the extras in the higher models, but want the ability to SLI. The board is sweet, and the UEFI(BIOS) is so easy. Helpful Hint: Needed one extra SATA cable since the 3 drives dont come with any and the motherboard only had two.
SSD Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB for Windows and Programs and documents. Be sure to grab the latest Samsung Magician software, because version 4.3+ has "RAPID" mode. With OS optimization at Performance and RAPID mode, my speeds went from Incredible to OMG! Bought on NewEgg and had them IRONEGG me the Amazon price (at that time) of $149.99.
HDD Storage: WD Black 1TB. Partitioned right away to 700 (data) and 250 (SDD img backup). This will be my drive for pics, music, video, etc... data stuff. Love my other WD Black on a different computer and it has a great warranty.
Video Card: EVGA ACX Superclocked GTX 770 2GB. Got this card at a great price from NewEgg (+ rebate) for $329.99. I like the warranty, I like the little overclock boost they give the card and cooling room for more OC. I've had good experiences with EVGA before. This was the card I've been wanting and it came to me in a sale ad from NewEgg. NOTE TO EVERYONE: Sign up for the sale email ads from the different stores! I will buy another one in a year or so (when they are cheap) for a future SLI upgrade.
Case: Originally was eyeing the Corsair 400R. Loved the reviews, loved everything. But then discovered the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 in the 11th hour. This thing is SOLID! I love the look and the features: rubber grommets, air filters everywhere, fan control, front USB 3.0, side window, removable/movable HDD cages. 109.99 from NCIX. Very silent even at high load with all fans on high.
PSU: Wanted Corsair... but they have so many different models. Had to be sure it was Haswell compatible and able to do SLI. Decided on a high end model HX850 - great components and terrific LONG warranty. Beautifully packaged, semi-modular (CPU plugs attached, everything else you add as needed). Cable management was fun... hope you like the way I wired it up.. pls let me know! Expensive, gold rated efficiency and super quiet. Price $139.99 after rebate from NewEgg.
Optical Drive: Samsung on sale at NewEgg. $14.99. SATA. Easiest decision.
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit. NewEgg. $84.99.
RAM: Saw a lot of successful builds with these G.Skill 1600 Ripjaws X.
additional: So, I get these IronEgg price matches from NewEgg in the form of gift cards, so I have to buy something...
Update: The NZXT Hue controller burned out (pfff... smoke). Returned.