This is my first build in 9 years, and my first one that I did 100% on my own. My brother wanted a clean cut HTPC in his media center for movie viewing and light gaming (older MMO's, SimCity, old school emulation, etc.) on a limited budget. He has a TV and a wireless keyboard and mouse already, but wanted the Xbox controller setup as well. The tower itself came in under $440 + $54 for the Xbox controller and adapter. I could have saved another $10, but I preferred the convenience of getting every part from Newegg all at once.
The build itself was pretty straight forward, but I have many complaints about the case. It has no fans, but it has a interior hood that directs the CPU cooler straight to the side vent. The only paperwork included was a one-sheet picture set of instructions on how to alter the hood for various CPU placements depending on your motherboard. By themselves, those aren't really problems, but I couldn't use the interior adjustable part at all because my CPU cooler was too far south on the motherboard. The frame of it remained until I realized I couldn't completely close the case because my ram was too big by a tiny bit, probably 2 or 3mm. (I could have squeezed it shut, but the top would have had a visible gap in the black paint because the side panel actually includes a chunk of the top and bottom of the case.) I could have cut a slot in the side of the plastic hood, but it didn't seem worth it at this point. I just tossed the hood. It didn't seem to improve airflow anyway. Half of the CPU fan overlaps with the back of the optical drive. This way, without the hood, the cables for the optical drive were further from the CPU fan, too. The case also didn't come with any screws for the motherboard. I don't know if this is standard, but the standoffs come pre-attached, and absolutely no other mounting screws or anything were included. It's not exactly a huge drawback, but it isn't a sign of a quality manufacturer either. A single diagram of how to access/remove a couple things and 10 screws would have gone a long way.
The Bio's on the motherboard is excellent. I'm impressed with the simplicity and functionality. I've overclocked to 3.9GHz with temps holding at 62C on the stock cooler, but the fan went from silent to, uh... beyond quite noticeable. My brother is the kind of guy that would never notice the difference or really care about the CPU speed, so I'll probably dial it back anyway.
It was tough to not go with any SSD's, but budget and storage space were important points. We ended up going with the cheapest 1TB HDD at the time. Hopefully he won't regret it.
He will consider adding a video card for viewing and recording live TV at a later date.
I don't know if a Blu-Ray drive for $40 is a great deal, but it sure feels like it.
This was a bit of a warm up for me. I plan on building a new desktop next month, hopefully for less than $900. I've never installed an SSD or aftermarket cooler before, both of which will be included, and can be a big deal for a self-taught guy like me. I'm still trying to talk myself into upgrading to an i5-3570k over the FX-8350 and something more impressive than a GTX 650 Ti. I'm just wondering if it's worth it if I don't really care about ultra high vs. medium high graphics settings. But all of that is another story.