December 2013 - February 2014
I'm pretty proud of my first build! First PC desktop and traded in my Macbook Pro for parts.
I began buying parts on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I waited out to buy parts for a lower price over time, despite most people suggesting otherwise. I knew parts like the CPU and mobo would have a shorter return period, so I got those last.
I had some leftover parts from my previous workstation, i.e. as my monitor, headphones, storage disks and keyboard, so that helped keep the cost down to under $1k.
CPU: Got this on sale with Staples $30 discount + Microcenter price match.
CPU heatsink: I've left this as a future upgrade as I'm not going to overclock immediately until a few months down the line. Although I'm pretty sure the Cooler Master Hyper Evo has nice performance/price ratio, I hate the look of a metal block sticking out. Water cooling is expensive, but a nice option for aesthetics and cooling performance. I'll figure it out soon enough!
Mobo: Well, it was cheap and still within my budget. Either the Hero or Asus z87 A, with $30 price difference at the time on Amazon. Hero seemed like a nice upgrade for only 30 bucks.
RAM: It's red. Amazon marketplace has some great deals.
Storage: Once you've had a SSD, you can't go back to a HDD.
GPU: I'm not running the absolute top games at the moment. Most of my games are old with the newest being only a few years back. Running my games at 1080p with a 760 for the price seemed perfect. 770 or 780 would have been nice, but I'll wait for Nvidia to release the 800 series or decide to bump it up in the future if need be.
Case: I really liked other builds with the original Phantoms, but they were already $110. Figured the 530 for the same price would be a better value and investment for expansion/workability in a case.
Case Fan: Seems silly to leave a hole in the side of the case, so filled it with this fan. However, I wished NZXT would have filled it and left the design for pure aesthetics. I have this unfounded fear it may disrupt the natural airflow from the front intake, but it should not be that significant. The sticker I pasted on top of the grill might be good to limit side intake for this problem? So I don't mind it being restricted a bit.
PSU: Found a nice deal for this on Newegg compared to other PSUs for the price, but I refuse to purchase it from them. Got it price matched with my nearby Fry's.
Future Upgrades - Stormtrooper V2 Getting a CPU cooler. Stock is a bit noisy and could be resolved with an aftermarket one, but for now its fine. New peripherals maybe...mechanical keyboard/better mouse? A few years down the line, may need to bump up the graphics card as I begin to chew through my Steam library.