First ever PC build. I have no existing parts, so this guide is geared towards anyone who needs to start from scratch and wants to set up a very capable VR rig in the $1,200 to $1,500 range.
If you are coming to this absolutely cold -- don't panic ... you can totally do this. All you need is a sense of adventure and patience. The pcpartpicker.com community is an amazing resource for learning.
For fellow novices, here are a few excellent videos that really helped me out:
My goal with this build was a VR system that would be a great base for future expansion, operate quietly and look great. Gaming was not the priority.
Ok, who is kidding who -- this build is also sweet for games, It handles anything at 1080p with maxed settings.
The Fractal Design Define S w/ Window is such a great case. It is very easy to work with and showcases your hard work. If you need an optical drive, please note that this case has no front drive bays.
Get the USB version of Windows 10 if you are going down this route
For the CPU, a Skylake i7 6700K is actually more than you need for VR right now. Drop down to an i5-6600K if you are working with a tight budget. Arguably, you don't need a "K" Suffix on your Intel CPU. Nothing available for Rift or Vive requires overclocking or multi-threading right now -- but it is nice to have the capability for the future.
You can actually get better performance if you have (or buy) an older Haswell CPU/Z97 Motherboard, but the name of the game here is future expansion. The MSI Z170A Gaming M5 is a great balance between performance and price.
The graphics card was the toughest choice. It is very tempting to go for an NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti to max out the Rift/Vive system tests -- but almost anything coming out for the Rift or Vive in the next several months is going to work stellar on a GTX 970. It's a difference of $300 and it just seems to make fiscal sense to go with what works just-great-enough-now ahead of the Pascal based cards coming (likely) later this summer.
For the slight price difference, I went with 3000MHz DDR4. Don't get too crazy right now on the difference between 2400MHZ and 3000MHz unless you are using this rig more for overclocking and games than VR.
The CPU cooler is cheap, very well reviewed and looks great in the case. You can go nuts with water cooling, but this fan based unit will be more than sufficient for the near to medium term.
The PSU is 750W for future proofing and the expected larger power draws from future cards. You will be fine if you go for 650W. This EVGA is very quiet. A fully modular PSU was easy to work with when it came to cabling.
No spinning media in this build. The Samsung 500GB EVO is fast and cheap. This is plenty of space if your primary use is VR.
If you need wireless, the Gigabyte card is terrific and cheap.
Lastly -- the custom red cables. Absolutely pointless and truly an unnecessary cost relative to the overall budget. But come on ... they are so cool.
The keyboard and mouse combo is surprisingly good for the price. At this point I was going for style -- and facts are facts -- they are red/black and "glowy."