This was my first build. I built it to do 1080p 60 FPS gaming, and also be ready for VR using the Occulus Rift system requirements.
I started researching during the summer, but wanted to wait for Black Friday to save money. With the help of r/buildapcsales I was able to snag a few good deals:
CPU: A great item for gaming, I bought this bundled with the motherboard, one 8 GB stick of RAM, and a game (Rainbow Six Siege). I feel like I got really good value on this bundle.
CPU Cooler: Popular and well reviewed unit, I did not get much of a deal on it though.
Thermal Paste: I thought "why not".
Motherboard: Came with the bundle, the plus side is that it has a lot of features and is well built, the downside is that it is big (E-ATX) and most of those features like 4-way SLI will likely never be used. The kicker was the bundle price.
Memory: Got one stick in the bundle, another stick as a gift.
Storage: I wanted a large SSD for all my games, and did not need a HDD because I do not save a lot of files. I jumped the gun and bought this back in September, now the prices are even lower. Oh well.
Video card: Got this the day before Black Friday from EVGA B-stock. I am very happy with the price, and it works great.
Case: An odd pick, it had good (though few) reviews, and was on a small discount Cyber Monday. I did not find a better case for a lower price, so I rolled the dice with this one. It is sturdy and quiet, but some of the screws were too tight, making the build a bit difficult. It fits E-ATX though, so that is the important thing.
Power Supply: I missed the deals on the EVGA G2 units, so bought this instead, on a small discount. A well reviewed unit, though I would have preferred a 750W unit so I could try 2-way SLI. Maybe someday.
Optical Drive: I got this as a gift. It works.
OS: I got a free activation key from a PCMR giveaway, lucky.
Conclusions: I feel like I got pretty good deals overall, the only real disappointment is the PSU, which had short cables that barely reached the CPU power header on the mobo, and is not as high of a wattage as I would have preferred. I just finished building it, so I have not put it through it's paces yet or tried overclocking, which I will probably wait a while before doing.
Edit 1: Just did my first test: running Far Cry 4 on Ultra at 1080p (with v-sync enabled). This was the first time in a long time that I just enjoyed walking around a game and looking at things. The frame rate was smooth, and every time I checked on my temperatures, they were almost the same as idle. I'll have to do more of a stress-test it seems...
Edit 2: I started using it for 1440p gaming, and I'm very pleased with the results. I'm playing Witcher 3 on Very High settings, and getting 50-60 fps. I've been using some wattage calculators and it looks like it will be safe for me to add a second 970 to the build. I might do that when VR comes out, if SLI gets optimized for that.
Big, but no problems so far. Had a power and reset button built in, made the out-of-box test easy.
It's an SSD. It's big and fast. It works. That is all that really matters to me.
Works great most of the time, but under heavy load at stock speeds it can crash. I researched and found more info here: http://forums.evga.com/Solution-For-Black-Screen-Problem-For-GTX-970-SC-ACX20-2974-m2332911.aspx
For me, it was in Witcher 3, Kaer Morhen balcony, High settings, 1440p. The GPU would only reach about 74 degrees, but after several minutes I would get a black screen when the GPU would shut down and I would have to reboot my computer.
Seems like a flaw with this particular model. I was able to "solve" the problem by using MSI Afterburner to set higher fan speeds. This seems to have resolved the issue, but it does make it louder.
Big, lots of room.
Sturdy, lots of metal.
Modular, I removed all the HDD cages.
Good airflow, big intake fan.
Quiet, sound absorbing materials.
Some of the thumbscrews were very tight.
Bad instructions, no mention of what screws to use where.
Screws came all mixed in one bag.
This was my first build so maybe my expectations are off, but the power cable to the CPU headers seemed very short, I could barely route it through the back of my (admittedly large) case. Cables were stiff and hard to manage. I would only recommend this for mid-tower ATX or smaller cases.
On the plus side, it has good reviews for being high quality, and it DOES have enough PCI-E connectors to support two graphics cards if the cards use less than 225 W each (such as the GTX 970).