Wireless Network Adapter
This is not a brand new build, but just did a couple little mods recently, so wanted to post it. Started buying components Black Friday/Christmas 2012 (as you will see by the memory prices), and built it last January. I'm a deal hunter, so I put the initial build together for around $650, and it was pretty stellar for the price. Some parts have been swapped out since then. Started out with a GT 640 (got it for $50 and was going for CUDA cores on a budget) and a CX500 (I think I got it for like $25, and it was a great unit while I had it).
I use it for Adobe Creative Suite CS6 and gaming.
So the following rationale is for the current components. (Remember, a lot of these are from year end 2012)
CPU: Wanted a mid-range i5 and not too concerned on overclocking, though the 3450 can still be boosted a bit if I feel like it. Got a good deal on TigerDirect, so I jumped on it. (TigerDirect)
CPU Cooler: Standard. Got it cheap, could've gone EVO, but my temps are super good even with the Plus. (Newegg)
Mobo: Don't hate. I didn't know much about motherboards at the time, and I got this Z77 board for an awesome price. While Biostar isn't a premiere company, I've had zero issues with this board, and I actually really like it. Some of the connectors could've been placed better (USB 3.0, etc), but for the price I like it a lot. Would I buy it again? Maybe. (TigerDirect)
Memory: "When I was a kid we could get 8GB for..." but seriously, I got a 8GB kit of Kingston Blu Red for $30 and then a few weeks later Kingston Black was $30ish, same specs, so I went for it. I do some video editing (Premiere Pro, After Effects) so 16GB was a no brainer; actually wish I had gone Win 7 Pro so I could handle some more, but hind-site is 20/20. Someday maybe I'll build again. (Newegg)
Storage: When I first put this together, I got (what was then) a steal on the Samsung 120GB. Couple months later I got a WD Green for low power media/doc storage. Then a few months later saw another deal on the same Samsung 120GB and I snagged another to be a dedicated game drive. No complaints at all. Not as fast writes as the better SSDs now, but it's still blazing fast. (SSD - Newegg/HDD - Newegg)
Video card(s): Like I mentioned earlier, started with a GT 640. It was actually a pretty decent card. Played several games on it, including Crysis 2, if you can believe it. But I wanted more power for new games. So I spent some time reading (a month or two before 7xx series came out) and settled on the 650 Ti BOOST for a couple reasons: a) it was at the price/performance ratio I was looking for, b) I wanted the higher memory bandwidth than the 650 Ti, and c) it's SLI capable (which, obviously, turned out to be a good choice). A couple months ago, after 7xx series came out, I got the PNY edition for $120! So boom, I get awesome performance for around $280 spent. Could I do better now? Sure, but that's the age-old paradox of investing in any hardware at any time, it always get's better/faster/stronger for cheaper. I'm stoked on this SLI setup though. (EVGA - Newegg/PNY - TigerDirect
Case: I got the 200r a couple days after it released, and it had a giant rebate, so I got it for next to nothing. I love it. It's not a high end case, but I didn't pay for high end case features. I put some custom rubber grommets on the cable management holes, and they turned out alright (see pics). I removed the HDD/SSD bay, and tossed the SSDs behind the mobo tray and the HDD into an 5.25 bay. Really clears the space for airflow and keeps cables tidier. I can't complain too much for the price, but I wish there was a bit more cable mgmt room, it's got an inch or so, but it fills up fast. Awesome case though. (Newegg)
PSU: Started with a CX500, which was a champ. A few months ago I started watching for something modular with more power for my SLI setup, and the OCZ ZT750W went on sale with rebate, and I picked it up for like $65. Couple reasons: a) price, b) fully modular, c) 5 year, no hassle warranty, d) 140mm fan for super quiet operation. (Newegg)
ODD: One word: cheap. (Newegg)
OS: I flippin' HATE Windows 8/8.1 or any variation that operates the same. My wife has it on her laptop, and it is INSUFFERABLY annoying to use. I even put a Win 7 'shell' app on it, and it still blows. The slightest wrong movement on the trackpad, and boom I'm in some app somewhere. The stupid hidden sidebar crap is always activating, despite turning off everything I possible could. Microsoft, I hope by some stroke of luck you read this. I'm not the first one, but by golly, I'll join the choir, "Windows 8, for non-tablet experience, is HORRIBLE." I don't care if Win 7 is becoming the OS of the past, AT LEAST IT WORKS LIKE IT SHOULD! Ok...I'm done. I hope that'e enough 'rationale' for my Win 7 choice. (Newegg)
Wireless Adapter: Good reviews, and it was cheap. (Newegg)
Monitor: I have limited space in my apartment, and I got this thing for like $85 from some random web retailer. It was a refurb (which I didn't know when I purchased it, because it was conveniently easy to miss). Acer makes good monitors, and I actually like this for how much I paid. Horrible field of view, you have to be pretty direct in front of it to not get crazy looking image, but it does the trick. Some day I'd like something at least 1080p with better color for video stuff, but we'll see about that. (some random retailer, can't remember)
Keyboard: Who doesn't have a MS Sidewinder X4? Seriously though, I like it a lot, got it for $30 this past Black Friday. Wanted something backlit, and this does the trick. I don't use the macros because I play fps mostly, but it's a nice feature to have. Can these macros make a burger and fries...I'll look into it. (Newegg)
Mouse: Simple: I claw. And it was $20 after sale and rebate. It's ok, side buttons suck, and don't really click, but I don't use them much anyway. Everyone once in a while the left button sticks when I'm depressing right button at the same time...haven't decided if it's worth RMA, but it's super annoying, as you can imagine. (Newegg)
Headset: Got 'em for free from a friend who used them for conference calls, but experienced wireless range issues (talking on the other side of the house to clients). They work perfect for me.
Misc: I modded the side panel and added a couple cool windows. Also modded the rigid SLI bridge I got with my mobo, stealthed out my optical drive with some matte black paint and put a little custom cable management/concealer piece at the bottom front for front panel fan cables to hide (see pics). I got a couple Cougar Hydraulic Fans that were on sale, to compliment the NZXT sleeved red LED, so far, no complaints. (EBay/Newegg)
That's about it. It's a good machine, I don't love the cable management job that much, I was hoping it would be a little cleaner, but it is what it is, not much space after the SSDs are back there. For the price/performance, I like to think I did alright. Someday I'd like to build an overclocking i7 rig, but I will probably never spend the money.