This is something I've wanted to do for almost 8 years now, back when I had to settle for a dell computer with an 8800 GT and Intel Core Quad instead of making my own (I was too young and my parents didn't want to deal with it). But now that I'm in college and I've been gaming on a Digital Storm laptop equipped with a Geforce 555M for almost 3 years, I broke and decided I wanted a gaming experience that wasn't a pixelated mess at <20 fps.
Enter Benthic, which I named about 10 minutes ago because "First Build" sounded boring. BEFORE YOU READ ON I want you to know that I am aware I spent a bit more than necessary on components that add to the look much more than the performance. After building the bulk of it and finding it more than adequate for my 1080p setup, I had quite a bit of fun making this rig look like something I'd want to have on my desk and show off to friends, without completely draining the bank.
Most of the hardware was bought in one trip to a local Microcenter. The fans, NZXT add-ons, and window were bought online. Also before you're confused, I recently swapped out the disc drive I had bought and moved my hard drive to a 5.25 bay using a cheap adapter, allowing me to remove the hard drive cages that were in the front.
CPU: FX-6300. Cheap, powerful, more than enough for my needs.
Motherboard: Cheap with the microcenter bundle with the CPU. Definitely enough for me, and even has SLI/XFire support. Looking back I would have picked a board that was safer to overclock on, since it is not advised on this board. Not a big drawback by any means.
GPU: 760. A beast at 1080p in all games. I have played Dota 2, Dishonored, Metro 2033, Crysis, Bioshock, etc. at max-near max settings with great framerates. At first I had a 7870 Ghz in my cart at the microcenter, but the cool dude helping me out said I could have an open box 760 for only 8 bucks more than I was about to spend. Couldn't pass it up.
Memory: Cheap, fast, good.
Cooler: More than enough to handle the 6300 at stock and a little bit above. Fits nice in my case and looks sweet with the lighting.
Storage: straight forward, it works. I WILL BE ADDING AN SSD in a few weeks so no need to bring that up in the comments :P
Case: OH MAN THIS CASE. This thing is the reason I went a little expensive with the looks on this rig. I was originally gonna get something much cheaper and more basic but I had a co-worker build a pc right before I did and he used this case (in the military green). I grew envious and decided the upgrade was worth it since the case is the most future-proof thing you can buy. I do not regret it. Not even a little. I love this case and I loved working with it. Spacious, solid, and sexy. The only negative i had about it was the unfortunate default case window that obscures the vision of about half the space. I found a custom acrylic case window on a modding site and had it put in asap. It changed the look entirely and I recommend it for anyone who buys this case.
PSU: Cheap and modular. I wish I would have gotten the 750 in case I wanted to SLI in a few months, but it will be enough for any single video card upgrades I do in the future.
Fans: Cheap LED fans that push a decent amount of air quietly. I bought these without doing much research, but they're doing quite well for me. Not silent but definitely very quiet at the lowest voltage.
NZXT Sentry: I wanted something that would allow me to connect more fans and experiment with voltages. Works well and looks nice.
NZXT Hue: REALLY enjoying this thing. Lets me decide how I want my computer to look at any time (again, I wanted something that allowed some experimentation). And luckily for me the crappy adhesive that comes with it is actually holding up decently for me.
I spent a few months on this and other sites deciding the parts I wanted before I caved in, so a big thanks to this community for your help!
Let me know what you think in the comments! I spent several hours with cable management trying to hide everything I could, but If there's any other ideas anyone has I'm all for hearing them.