After two laptops crapping out on me, I wanted a computer option that had longer legs. Something I could upgrade if necessary and would last longer than 5 years with the original purchase of parts (if nothing comes DOA, knock on wood). I asked a couple friends and they both pointed me to this site, and I've gotta say, this quickly became an addiction. The daily perusing of other builds and the almost constant checking of prices dominated my life for a good month or two. The longer I spent on this site, the more expensive my build became. I started off with a $700 budget, but soon decided budgets are for people who put limits on themselves.
Case: "I want it small" was the only input I received from my wife. So it was straight to minis. After comparing quite a few cases (Corsair 250D, Thermaltake Core V1, Cooler Master Elite 130 and BitFenix Prodigy), I decided to go with the 250D based on the amount of stuff I could fit in it, the fact it still had a 5.25" drive slot on the front, and because it just looked more elegant than the others. The airflow and heat management was also on point as the front cover can be removed and a 200mm fan can sit at that opening. It was a bit more expensive, but again, budgets are for people who put limits on themselves.
CPU: Originally thought I could get by with an i3 4170. Truth be told, it was a great little processor that was blazing fast at mundane tasks (web surfing, light gaming, word processing, etc). But I wanted to play a few games that required 4 cores. Knowing I had dropped $115 on the i3 I wasn't going to use, I figured I'd go with the best processor that fit the 1150 socket so I wouldn't have to buy another processor in the future. Whuttup i7 4790k. Will post overclocking numbers when I get around to it.
CPU Cooler: As a meteorologist, I know the importance of heat and heat transfer. The idea of a water cooled system just appealed to me. The later purchase of the unlocked i7 made me quite thankful I went overboard with the CPU cooler to begin with. The fit with the stock fans that came with the H100i GTX was impossible (there was a 2mm clearance issue with the mobo). But that was not going to stop me from getting a little H2O in my system. Bought some thinner 120mm fans and now it's in like Flynn.
Mobo: This was the first part I found and I fell in love with it from the beginning. It has everything I want in a mobo. Adequate number of ram slots, bluetooth, wifi, and a profile that allowed for a water cooler. Yes, the cooler I bought needed a change of fans, but do I need to remind peeps about my feelings regarding limits? Slapped two 8GB sticks of Crucial in the slots and marveled at the amount of stuff I was able to do all at once. Probably only needed one stick, but the mobo had two slots (need I say more?)
Storage: Wanted an SSD due to the speed, and I have not been disappointed. It's lightning fast. Well, not lightning fast, but it boots up about as fast as my first car went from 0-60 (just under ten seconds). Got a terabyte SSHD because I needed more space, I wanted it fast but didn't want to pay the crazy prices for a 1TB SSD. Again, very pleased.
Video Card: My friends told me to get it. So I did. I have a beautiful picture on my monitor and they assure me it will last for quite some time. Cool.
Power Supply: Again, had some help from my friends. They told me the most important component in terms of longevity is your power supply. So I made sure I bought gold rated PSU. It has more than enough wattage to handle everything I can throw at it, plus it's modular, which in an ITX case is quite handy. #Winning.
All in all, I'm super pleased with my work. I can use the system for home theater needs, gaming needs, and general computer stuff. I can upgrade it pretty easily, however I probably (knock on wood) won't need to anytime soon. Plus, with the 200mm fan in the front, the water cooler on the right and the video card fans on the left, heat has only one way to go... straight out the backside. I'll add pics later. When I do, be gentle as my wire management needs management.