This is my first build ever. All throughout college I played my games (primarily WoW) on a slightly-upgraded Sony Vaio laptop. Now that I have a job and actual income, I decided it was time to do this for real. However, since I'm now working entry-level and am being crushed by my suddenly relevant student loans, my goal was to do it all in less than a grand.
For finding parts, I leaned incredibly heavily on PCParkPicker; seriously, what an incredible tool this site is. Once I had an idea of what I wanted, I was able to shave off little by little through deals and whatnot to get to where I wanted to be. I basically tried to get the best bang for my buck out of everything in this build. Note that the prices listed below are net of any combos and rebates that I found.
CPU: Intel i5-4670K Pretty standard, I'm not doing a ton of video editing or rendering work any more, and from everything I've read, it seemed like an i7 would be overkill for most of the games I'm interested in.
CPU Cooler: CM Hyper 212 Evo Went for the value buy here. Had a little trouble installing because I didn't realize I needed to adjust the clamp piece to fit the socket properly. Of course I had already applied the thermal paste and started mounting the heatsink when I figured this out. So that was fun.
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 Got this in a combo at Microcenter with the CPU (#614982). I applied the combo discount and rebate on this item, hence the low purchase price. Kind of a bummer that I won't ever be able to SLI with this board, but otherwise fits my needs just fine.
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Series 8 GB DDR3-1866 G.Skill seemed to have great reviews on this site. Decided on the Sniper instead of the Ripjaws because I wasn't sure if the big heat fins on the Ripjaws would give me issues with making everything fit and the Sniper fits my color scheme better anyway :D
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB SSD & Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM HDD Went with a small SSD for Windows and essential programs (Chrome, Steam, etc.) and an HDD for storage. Was prepared to drop $90 on the SSD at Microcenter and was pleasantly surprised to find out they had an additional $10 off deal going on. The HDD I got in a combo with the GPU from Newegg (#1547338) and yeah, it's a hard drive.
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 760 2 GB The 760 seemed like it would give me the most bang for my buck. From what I've read, it gets the job done on most of the stuff that's out right now. Went with the Asus one mostly because it was a little bit cheaper than the EVGA offering, and it was a little bit shorter, which I thought would be helpful making sure it all fit. It also looks pretty great so I'm a fan. The combo came with the GPU, HDD, and a free copy of Assasin's Creed IV so that's pretty neat.
Case: Zalman ZM-Z9 U3 Mid Tower REALLY wanted the Fractal Design R4 but I just didn't want to drop over $100 on a case. This one came on sale on Newegg and most of the reviews were fairly positive so I went for it. Really like that it has a temperature reader and a fan controller dial built into the front panel. The brightness of the fan LEDs adjusts with the dial, so I think that's also pretty neat. Only complaints with the case: the front panel USB 3.0 ports simply give you passthrough cables, so I needed to spend an additional $10 on a cable to connect them to the motherboard (which you can see in a few of the pictures). Additionally, there's not a ton of room behind the MoBo, so cable management was a bit of an adventure.
Power Supply: Raidmax 730W ATX12V/EPS12V I know. It was one of my first purchases, and I hadn't really started doing my research yet. It was on sale on Newegg and it had a pretty LED that matched my build so I went for it. I've since learned that this probably wasn't my best purchase. So far, it's working fine, and I like the way it looks, so I'm leaving it for the time being. Cables were tough at times, but I figured something out.
OS: Windows 8.1 Enterprise Had a copy of 7 lying around that I could have used. However, I already have a Surface and an Xbox One so it seemed right to go with 8. It was tricky to figure out at first, and it presented some challenges initially (dealing with the BiOS and Secure Boot) but I now have it where I like it. My buddy still works at our college IT Helpdesk, so I managed to get a hold of this for free.
Monitor: Asus VS238H-P 23" Monitor shopping was hard. This had really good reviews on every website, looked like it had a low latency for gaming, and was about as cheap as anything I could find for the quality it brings to the table. So far I think it looks great.
Keyboard & Mouse: CM Storm Devastator Bundle Wanted a cheap keyboard that was still backlit and matched my rig. This did the job. I already had a Razr Deathadder from my laptop, so the mouse was really just a bonus. So far I like both pieces. The keyboard is a little funky in that you need to enable scroll lock to use the backlight, and I know that would probably annoy a lot of people. But for me it's getting the job done.
Custom: Silverstone USB 3.0 Adapter Cable This is the earlier stated adapter cable that I used to connect my front panel USB 3.0 connectors to the motherboard. For whatever reason, this cable doesn't seem to click in very securely into my MoBo, so I had some issues with it popping out during the build. I don't have any USB 3.0 devices to test the ports out with, but I think it's working.
That's it, hopefully you enjoy the pics. I'm not overclocking anything yet, but when I figure out how to benchmark and monitor my CPU/GPU temps I might think about giving it a go. I'm also considering adding either a cold cathode or some LED lights in there for some flair but haven't pulled the trigger on that yet. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.