First off, I have to say I don't really hate the name I gave to my new computer, but I did have to come up with it in haste - I can't believe I hadn't been thinking of anything in particular during months of research! So I end up using Ghost (my favorite "spoken name" in DiRT/GRID) and an adjective that indicates (to me) lightweight, unexpected performance.
The main games I am aiming to play smoothly on high/recommended settings are Skyrim, Saints Row the Third, DiRT 3, NFS Shift 2 & a bit of Starcraft II (still on the fence about BF3, & I'm sure you can guess why... and I don't have exact FPS because I know Fraps will take performance down a notch, but I'm usually on the high side of 40-60 I'd guess)
I first started researching a custom gaming PC build in August 2011 on some sort of whim, and wound up on the BuildAPC subreddit not long after, soon becoming determined it was going to happen no matter what! Had plenty of time to mull over all the big decisions (AMD or Intel? Geforce or Radeon? H61 or Z68? i3 or i5?) and of course worry about course of action should I get a DOA. The benchmark charts and graphs honestly are a bit of a blur thinking back, and I don't know if I would have been happier with a better CPU or just fine with a lesser graphics card...
All I know is I built a good looking PC for my needs that isn't too loud (though not whisper quiet I guess) and maintains good temperatures (30 idle, 50 load is OK with a stock CPU heatsink & one added front intake 120mm fan right? I have read this graphics card can run a bit too warm unless you manually crank up the fans)
So far I have only encountered two hiccups - Windows managed to install OK, but when downloading updates I started getting blue screens, which an overnight run of Memtest86+ showed was faulty memory, but thankfully it was only one of the sticks so I just used 1x4GB until another 2X4GB kit came in the mail yesterday! (original kit was PNY Optima - was on a good sale at the time!)
Also, the power supply has a red wire that comes too close to the fan, causing a horrible TINK TINK TINK noise until nudged out of the way - it must be a heavy gauge wire too, was harder to move than expected! I recommend using a toothpick if you encounter this, just make sure it doesn't break! (not sure if it was this model, but I have read about others having this exact problem) This prevented me from facing the PSU fan down like I wanted to, but it pulls air out anyway. (& I know some people even prefer it mounted this way so its fine by me)
I know the cable management is not the best, and perhaps I should have chosen a case with more space behind the motherboard tray (24 pin cable does not fit & is barely long enough as it is) or a power supply with a long-enough 4/8 pin CPU power cable, which is not helped by PSU's orientation (I may order an extension cable - it does truly bother me though I don't know how much it affects temps) but I rationalize it to myself by remembering the relatively low budget & the absence of overclocking or truly super high end components. (though of course that's a cop out I know)
TL;DR - I built my own gaming PC! It was fun to research and fun to execute, and even though you can't always expect 100% smooth sailing I can heartily recommend it to anyone wanting the best game performance per dollar!