I finally decided to retire my day-to-day machine, an HP Pavilion a1510n refurb running WinXP that I picked up fairly cheap. My "art" machine, a Dell Inspiron 530, running Windows 7 on a dual-core Intel (E2220) was feeling a little dated as well, so I made the decision to build a new render/light gaming rig (my first build in about a dozen years), promote the old render box to my new daily driver, and send the Athlon64-based HP out to recycle.
Being on a budget, I agonized over my choice of CPU, finally deciding to center my build around the AMD FX-6300. I've had good luck with AMD processors in the past, and while Intel has pretty much ruled the roost undisputedly for years now, I feel good about my decision, given the money I had to spend. Although it's been a while since my last build, my last several were based on Gigabyte motherboards, so the GA-970A-UD3P was my first choice.
The Inspiron maxed out at 4GB RAM, which seriously hindered the scenes I could set up, so I fairly jumped at the chance to stuff 16GB of G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series RAM into this build, while still leaving room to expand in the future. The choice of Gigabyte's GV-N960G1 video card was based in part on the fact that my rendering software of choice is built around NVIDIA's Iray platform, and in part on the slight price break I found on an open-box deal.
The majority of the parts were ordered from Newegg, with a trip to my local MicroCenter taking care of the case, power supply and optical drive.
Assembly was straightforward, and without complications, except for the cooler (I'm running stock clocks, but better cooling never hurts, right?); that took two readthroughs of the instructions and a helpful YouTube video to figure out the mounting. Install of Windows 8 went smoothly, as did the update to 8.1, (though I'm totally looking forward to upgrading to Windows 10) and so far, I haven't run across any software conflicts.