Note (11.10.14): Update description and will update pictures, been almost a year since then!
I was previously using a Dell Dimension I got like 3-4 years ago from a friend (AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core, 1.2Ghz, 4GB of DDR2 (PC2-5300) memory, GeForce 7600 GS (AGP 512mb) video card) This was ok for me at the time, could go online (could barely watch 720p videos on YouTube), do office/school work and play some games... this is how bad this was, I could barely play Minecraft 1.6.4 using all the lowest settings and could had problems watching 720p video full screen. I upgraded what I could with it over the years, my best enhancement was 120GB SSD that booted in 20 secs compared to almost a minute in Win 7 (64 bit)
Before I bought the parts I already had multiple storage drives (SDD/HDD). Initial purchased parts include CPU/Mobo combo, case, PSU, 4GB memory. Have added more components since then and will continue to upgrade/replace/add more in the future.
I had saved a little over $300 by the end of 2013 and looked for parts (deals/specials) and build this PC! To me this PC was far superior to the Dell in every way!!! But as it compares to others build, its a bit below average, but I didn't have much money to work with, so I did compatibility research price checking (mostly just TigerDirect and Neweeg) and over the course of a week bought parts and took me 1 night to assemble this rig without any errors or DOA parts!
I wanted to be able to upgrade this PC in the future (3-4 months from intial build), mostly just bigger RAM sticks, a liquid cooling unit, and add a discrete GPU to see if I can Crossfirewith the APU (Crossfire compatibility with Radeon HD 6570/6670 GPU's, I've read on some forums about people able to Crossfire with a Radeon R7?! Can it be done? please leave a comment on whether or not it can or can't be done without damaging the GPU or APU)
For the CPU I choose, I wanted to try out this "APU" (an intergrated GPU core sounded like a cool idea but for HD performance without a 2nd discrete GPU, its ok, I can play 720p and 1080p video without lag) I thought about going for an FX CPU (6 or 8 core) but the A8-6600K was bundled with the Asus mobo and I couldn't pass up the price! (at the time just under $200 for the combo) I should have searched more or shelled out more cash but wanted to get this build done before the end of the year (2013). The Asus mobo had specs I liked (again comparing to my Dell) supported dual-channel 64GB max memory (DDR3 1066-1866 and 2133-2400 OC), RAID support, 3 on-board display ports (HDMI, DVI, VGA) and 7 SATA3 ports (had many low capacity HDDs) The two USB3.0 ports, 4 USB2.0 and eSATA ports were a plus for me (I have mutliple external 2.5" and flash drives) Plus Win 8 ready, why not... Wanted a PCI 3.0 slot but ehh, I could live without. Liked the 8 channel on-board sound. At first I almost passed this deal up cuz I had checked on ASUS' site the PRO version was like x2 PCI x16 slots is nice, but no on-board video, PASS! Good thing I double checked the fine details.
Some of you might be face palming me but I didn't discover PCPartPicker until after I built this PC, so I had to manually check and re-check for compatibilitysupport between the parts, don't get me wrong, this site is awesome and a time saver for compatibility issues but I learned a lot doing the research myself. I have a "Computer Sciences" degree but that was learning on Win XP and 2K machines. It was more theory then hands on learning. I knew the basics of "how to assemble" a PC but I learned more about current specs and compatibility with this project in less then a month! I give major credit to the true tech heads out there that keep up to date with CPU architectures, codenames, cache sizes, die sizes... HAH, without the internet, fourms and sites like this, I'd be trying to fit a socket AM3 into a FM2 LOL, well maybe not that bad but its those little details that save you time and money from having to RMA a not supported/compatible part!
So, getting back to this build, I only had $100 left for case, RAM, and PSU. Since I went with AMD, thought why not try this 4GB AMD Radeon stick (was very curious/interested about RAMDisk) I didn't know at the time that it was basically a RAM drive. I had used similar virtual drives years ago when working with Photoshop and Premier. I've only used it a few times, and it didn't give me the performance enhancement I was expecting. (I'll mess with the settings after I get a basic benchmark for this PC and be able to compare settings) Need more RAM first! 4GB is ok for now, would like to get x3 more 4GB sticks and have 16GB! (ohhh 16GBs, I'm such a noob for getting excited for having more then 4GB of memory, LOL)
The case is good enough for what I need, not really into having flashing LEDs and a glass window, not for this build at least :)
The PSU isn't listed on this site, It is a Solid Gear Neutron 550W. I've read some bad reviews about it but for me was cheap and hasn't failed on me yet!!! (I have a 500W backup just in case, but that only has 1 SATA power connector!) I would like to replace it with a 600-700W modular PSU! I like that its mounted at the bottom but still have to deal with some many unused wires, which is funny cuz I picked this PSU for the fact that it has multiple connections for my SATA/IDE HDD's.
Lemme explain: I've collected many HDD's from fixing/repairing people's PC/laptops over the years and just can't throw'em away, I still have x2 Maxtor 80GB SATA1's that I use for offline storage (connected with a USB to SATA/IDE adapter) Guess you can call me a computer parts hoarder, LOL. I have started to break down and get a 1TB drive (maybe another since even 2TB SATA3 are like $100-$120 now) Transferring my data/files on my Dell would take forever cuz most of the drives are SATA1, a few SATA2, 1 SATA3 and an SSD. So moving 320GB from a SATA1 to a SATA3 would take about 1.5-2 hours, I had a few drives fail during these long transfer and corrupt the drive and data!!! Ahh the good'ol times! Which reminds me that at one point on the Dell, I had 1 SSD, 5 HDD, an optical drive connected internally (4 SATA ports on mobo and a PCI 2 port SATA card with an IDE connector) with 4 external 2.5" drives (a 4 USB port/mutli-card reader where the 2.5" hard disk drive - who remembers thoses!!!) plus another 3.5" IDE-HDD "offline drive ( connected with the USB-IDE adapater). I usually had 4 drives (internally) connected at all times and would switch with the externals but I was curious as to how many storage devices can I had plugged into my system. I had 11 storage drives, 2 flash drives and an optical drive on the My Computer window. Oh also, a 350W PSU was powering the whole thing! It a wonder that Dell didn't catch on fire.
Now with the mobo (7 internal SATA ports, 4 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 eSATA external ports and with that mutli-card reader (4 more USB 2.0 ports) I could potentially have 17 devices connected all at once to this PC... hmmm the board does have RAID support... no, no, no, If I want a server, then I'll build one! Beside the case can only has 9 bays internally...
Anyways, sorry for ranting on like that, if you've read through all this and didn't TLDW, I thank you! I really enjoyed building my own PC, now I need to get into OverClocking... I think I can OC this CPU to 4.5/4.6 GHz without to much trouble, need a proper heatsink or liquid cooling unit, cuz no way the stock heatsink will handle that! Leave a comment if you'd like, hell even a troll-comment would be nice, haha...
Almost a year and still running fine.
Upgrades: Replaced/sold/threw away older IDE HDD's, now have a 120GB SSD (C:), x2 TB and a 500GB SATA3 internal, 1 optical internal. Still have 4 external 2.5" but 2 are have S.M.A.R.T failures, keep 4 SATA HDD's for offline storage accessible with a 2-drive SATA docking station (finally using the eSATA port) and 2 IDE HDD for testing and experimenting purpose for older PC goofing around.
Added: x2 Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600 sticks, now total memory is 20GB. Need to get another 4GB Radeon stick to even out the slots or 2 more 8GB?! Also installed two 120mm case fans (Cougar Vortex HDB), 1 at the side and 1 in front to cool off HDD's. Still have the stock heatsink, and its still good (clean the case, fans and heatsink with compressed air every 2 months), but will soon be replacing with a liquid cooling unit (Corsair H80i).
PSU has not cause any problems but would still want to replace with a modular unit, only SATA devices are connected no more IDE drives, LOL...
Future upgrades: Have started live-streaming on Twitch.tv (www.twitch.tv/whiskeyleif) and can stream decent, not HD quality streams with current PC configuration. Currently as of October 2014 have not posted any new streams until I can get the mic and webcam. Need a better microphone (cordial) and HD webcam (either Logitech C525 or C920) before I restart streaming more content. If you don't know about Twitch.tv check it out, many awesome streams and communities, some trolly ones but its ok... Check out my channel and if you choose to hit that follow button, even though I'm currently on hiatus, I'd greatly appreciate it!!!
Update 11.11.14: replaced the stock heatsink with a liquid cooling unit, Corsair H80i. I was going record an unboxing but I just couldn't wait to install it... 2 hours later and I it worked!!! (had doubts after the first hour that I might have made a mistake... LOL) I thought I had measured enough room for this unit, but keep forgetting that it came with 2 fans, so instead of mounting it on top, had to mount high back side. So, note to me and you, avoid installing this cooling unit in a completed build unless you are a Tetris god!!! I'd been waiting to try to overclock this build for some time and I've got it steady at 4.4GHz... I used AMD's Catalyst Control and let it "auto tune" the CPU, it was able "according to the test" overclock at 5GHz before a BSOD flashed onscreen. I haven't seen that screen in a while LOL. Went in the BIOS and set it to 4.2GHz (for now). So far, I'm loving this unit, I can even deal with the turbine jet engine fan noise when the fans are set to max speed but I've gotten accoustomed to low whirls and humming sounds coming from mine PCs, I've left it on quite mode for the past 5 hours and have been stream hopping on Twitch, played around in Minecraft, even converted a 720p (1080x1280) 10 min home video into a 1080p (1280x1080) and the CPU hasn't gone past 15C/60F...