After months of researching I finally decided to go ahead and build my first rig. I work as a film editor and though I love my Macbook pro retina I wanted to a desktop and I saw this as a good learning opportunity. I also play a lot of games when I'm not busy and I've never had a great gaming rig so that was even more of a reason to build.
At first I was trying to stay within a $600 budget and reuse a lot of old parts, but then I realize that it might be a good idea now, but I feel like I would have to update parts quicker than I want. So I decided that if I'm going to build a PC especially for work then I might as well build something long-lasting.
Thanks to the communities of PCPartPicker, Reddit, and Tom's Hardware, after about 20 build revisions I was able to come up with a build that met all of my criterias which were it had to be small, powerful, energy-efficient, long lasting, and silent.
CPU: I chose the Xeon because I wanted the i7 for editing, but someone recommended that I take a look at the Xeon E3-1230V3 because performance-wise it was like the i7 4770, but it just didn't have a iGPU and it was $50 cheaper.
MoBo: I realized that I chose a locked CPU, but I went ahead with the MSI Z87I because it had a lot of usb 3.0 ports as well as bluetooth and Wifi. Also if I decided to ever switch to an unlocked Haswell CPU I wouldn't have to change motherboards.
RAM: I bought two single sticks of RAM because I was just going to buy one stick now and buy another later when it was even cheaper, but then I received a gift card from Amazon and so I decided to buy another stick. Luckily combined they're still cheaper than if I had bought the 2 stick kit.
SSD: After having an SSD on my Macbook Pro I knew that I wanted an SDD in my build for faster boot up. My old computer took about 3 mins to boot up so now seeing a 10 second boot up is just insane for a PC.
HDD: The WD was an old drive from my old computer that I bought over because it already had so much stuff on it I didn't feel like migrating it all to a new hard drive. The new Seagate will be used a drive to store all my footage for work.
GPU: Originally I had gone with an MSI R9 270 which I heard was a good card, but I ended up returning it and going all out for the GTX 770 because at the state of games nowadays I felt that the GTX 770 would allow me to play the latest games for a longer period of time.
Case: I was tired of large clunky towers so I knew that I wanted a small form factor for sure, but for the longest time I was stuck between the Bit Fenix Prodigy and the Cooler Master 130. Wanting to keep price down I decided to go with the Cooler Master 130, but when I went to Frys to take a look I saw the Corsair 250D and automatically I knew that it would be the perfect case. Even though the 250D cost more I felt that the quality of the case justified the price so I had no regrets getting that one instead.
PSU: Due to one of my criteria as being energy-efficient I wanted a 80 gold efficiency and because the build was going to be a mini ITX I read that cable management is very important to get right so I wanted modular. Luckily I found that Amazon sells used EVGA 650W PSU through EVGA for almost $50 cheaper than most gold efficient modular PSU so I got this one immediately.
OS: Having been a primarily a OSX user for the last 5 years I was shocked to see how much Windows OS cost and even crazier how Windows 7 and 8 are the same price in most cases. Luckily NCIX had a sale on Windows 8.1 and with a $10 off coupon it made no sense to go with an older OS.
Monitors: The 2 Asus monitors were ones I bought last year on Craiglist for a steal at $220 for both and they were pretty much brand new!
Case Fan: I knew that I was sticking with the stock CPU cooler so I had no need for water cooling, but the 250D supported up to 240mm case fan on the side. The case only came with one so I wanted to get matching fans to make it look better and also help keep the whole machine cool because I've had my fair share of hot computers. I wanted a silent fan, but I didn't want to pay a lot for Noctua fans(though I would if they were on sale) so from research I saw these Cougar Vortex fans as a great choice and so far they're doing exactly as they said.
This has been a great learning experience about computers and also on shopping on a budget(promo codes, price match, returns, and patients are your friends). After this I don't think I'll buy another PC again, but I think I'll still keep buying Macs because I still believe their level of quality is incredible... that is until I figure out the perfect hackintosh ;)