My goal was to spend no more than $1400. Final price tag after current prices / discounts was ~$1300. I already owned 2x monitors and a decent keyboard. I could have shaved another ~$100 off if I bought from all available vendors but I chose to only buy from amazon and newegg, mostly because I have a long history of ordering countless stuff over many years from them and they've always done me right with delivering and returns/replacements.
I was really nervous about building my own but a friend convinced me to. Hardest part for me was there was a bit of ambiguity about where/how to place some of the wiring from the case to the motherboard. In particular (I'm sure this is noob stuff for most, but in case this helps someone else..):
I couldn't find any actual info about which which audio connection to use: ac'97 or hd audio (the case has both). mobo manual did not say. could not find anything on msi site to confirm. general consensus was ac'97 was for "older" mobos and that most "modern" mobos should use hd audio. So I went with that, and so far nothing has blown up!
Some of the JFP1 connections (reset switch, power led, power switch, hdd led) don't have +/- symbols on them. The documentation for the case did not specify. There is, however, a triangle symbol on one side, and after some research I found that that signifies +.
Sorry for the potato photo :( Also I know my cable management isn't the greatest but I did okay for my first time ever. I plan on taking another shot at it after I get all my games/programs situated.
Anyways, I guess in retrospect I probably should have posted asking for any opinions before I bought everything, but I would still like to hear some comments!