My 5-year old HP laptop just wasn't cutting it anymore, especially since I'm dabbling with video and editing in Lightroom using humongous 5D Mkii files...
Decided to finally take the plunge after getting pre-approved for a Chase Freedom card, which meant I would save $100 on this build. I researched for a while, and I must say that I wouldn't have been able to get the parts I wanted at the price I got them without pcpartpicker!
Split the bulk of the purchases between Newegg (for the bigger yet less expensive items, to save on shipping like the PSU and Case) and Tigerdirect (for smaller expensive items like CPU to avoid the sales taxes while getting cheap shipping).
Got the graphics card for $50 through a co-worker who wanted to use it as a PhysX card, but decided to get a 670 instead for that purpose.
Decided against an optical drive; I really do not remember the last time I used one, even with my laptop... Maybe when I get into photography semi-professionally.
SSD's are fracken fast... I shut down often because it's a habit of mine, so it means a lot for me to have ~15 second boot ups.
Motherboard has been great so far, it's kind of ugly, being slim and brown, but without a case window, it really doesn't matter... I'll re-evaluate once I get the itch to overclock and grab a decent cpu cooler (stock has been fine when under heavy load)
Speaking of which, temps stay in an acceptable range while exporting big Premiere Pro files. 65 was the highest I saw, though that's pretty pathetic considering that the CPU is still at stock clock. GPU was more than satisfactory during exports, never ran past 50C according to speedfan
The case is awesome, and would compete with much more expensive cases in terms of build quality and features. My only gripe is that the space behind the mobo plate is pretty cramped; the troubles were compounded with the uber stiff sleeves utilized on the CX500 PSU. I managed to make it work somehow...
Mistakenly bought a cheap Coolmax 120mm fan and found out it was molex only. No biggie, though it was loud on full speed, so I just switched the wire from 12v to 5v. Starts up every time.
Total cost after tax, shipping, and Chase Freedom cash back was $670. I'm extremely happy with its photo editing performance, and it's no slouch in video editing too with the powerful 3570k and CUDA cores of the 650.
EDIT: I installed Chivalry and Battlefield 3 for s%$s and giggles. To my surprise, the 650 superclocked managed to eek out no less than 30 fps on 1080 high settings for BF3, not bad! I can actually play Chivalry on max settings too. This card is fully endorsed by the frugal Asian in me.