Just finished putting together this build for a client (aka my brother's friend's parents). They were looking for a general purpose PC that could handle basic tasks (schoolwork, etc.) and some basic photo editing for under $600, including all of the peripherals and a reasonable amount for my time. I imagine that it will be used for some light gaming (i.e. Roblox, Minecraft, and the like) as well. They asked me about this around December 15 and wanted it for Christmas, so I didn't have a lot of time to shop around, but I feel that I got decent prices on most of the components.
Considering the requirements, I opted for an AMD A8-6600K APU as it has a good processor paired with a decent GPU, coming in at just under the $100 mark. I like APUs for builds like this - low cost, but they pack a punch.
As for the motherboard, I basically clicked "Add a Motherboard" and sorted by lowest price. I did want a full ATX over a MicroATX, but that's just personal preference. The MicroATX boards were only a little less anyway. My one complaint with the board is that it doesn't support Fast Boot with Windows 8 - resulting in slower boot times than I'm used to with my builds that do support it. That and the BIOS is really ugly, but I don't have to deal with that every day.
The G.Skill RAM was also a "whatever's cheapest" type of purchase. RAM is RAM, and G.Skill generally has favorable reviews and good quality. The Ares and the Sniper series were the same price when I was originally speccing it out, but by the time I went to order the Sniper RAM was sold out, so I went with the Ares. Pricing under $50 for 8GB sealed the deal.
I didn't have enough room in the budget to put in an SSD, so I put in the tried-and-true Seagate Barracuda 1TB. Plenty of storage with decent speed.
I was very disappointed with the case - at $35, I expected more. My two requirements were that it had a front USB 3.0 port, and it had to be aesthetically pleasing. Maybe I was just spoiled by the $30 Corsair 200R I used in one of my previous builds, but this was a wake up call in low-price cases. The side panels are extremely difficult to remove and put back on, requiring that one pull on the front end of the panel with their fingernails while pulling the handle in the back to pull them off and requiring careful alignment when putting them back on. The case itself felt flimsy, and there wasn't much space for cable management (better than most cases in this price range though). Nothing was tool-less either, and hard drives mount toward the back of the case instead of the side, resulting in more visible cables. Airflow is good though, I'll give it that. The included LED fan on the front does provide a nice visual effect, however, and overall the case looks nice assembled.
I'm not going to comment on the power supply, other than that I had it on hand, it is ugly as heck, and that it was free after rebate. If the CX430 was on sale, I would have bought it. The reviews on Newegg are actually decent longevity-wise, so I figured with PCPartPicker rating the build at 200W I was safe putting it in.
I absolutely refuse to buy Lite-On drives after I had one fail with the infamous stuck tray problem, so I went with my usual Asus combo drive. Good product and good price.
Windows 8 is what it is. I like it, some people don't. Good price regardless.
I also found this ViewSonic monitor at a really good price at TigerDirect. The picture quality is really good, just as good as my Asus VS247H-P in a quick visual comparison, and it has decent internal speakers to boot (saving another $10 off the price of the build). Here's the math for those interested: $119.99 for the monitor + $0.49 filler to get the order over $120 = $120.48 - $20 rebate for orders over $100 - $20 V.me discount on orders over $120 = $80.48 final price.
The Microsoft keyboard/mouse combo is basic but inexpensive. Fits the customer's needs at a low cost. Plus, it's wireless, which was a bonus.
Finally, some miscellaneous parts. My client wanted an internal card reader for their camera, and this $10 Rosewill reader fit the bill. The extension cable was necessary since the P4 connector was WAY too short on the before-mentioned PSU.
Overall, I think I got a decent build at a good price. I got $20 off the processor and motherboard with a Newegg combo, $3 off the optical drive and $10 off the HDD with Newegg coupons, and 10% off the rest (except for the monitor, see above) with the Masterpass promo. Only two rebates for $10 off the case and $20 off the monitor, no tax, and free shipping on everything with ShopRunner and Inner Circle (thanks Slickdeals!). All of the discounts are pro-rated across the components listed below, which accounts for the weird prices.