This was my first time build, having never done much PC stuff other than reassembling an old Pentium 4 machine back in Grade 9. I have used a laptop my whole life, and after having a summer job for the first time this year, I decided to do a custom build and finally get good performance for the first time in my life. The purpose of this build, outside of gaming, is programming for school and occasional video rendering for projects.
CPU: i5 4670k, the standard CPU for this price range. I was considering the AMD 8350, however greater gaming performance won me over in the end over better multi-tasking. This chip is running decently so far, I managed to get it up to 4.6Ghz on the stock cooler without touching voltages. Once I got to 4.7, the system would fail to POST half the time and was extremely unstable so I managed to get OC Genie turned on which brought it back down to 4.0Ghz.
CPU Cooler: The Hyper Evo 212 is to the extent of my knowledge, the king of budget cooling, however it is temporary. Next year I intend to do a custom watercooling loop for my CPU so the Evo is more of a temporary measure and the reason I didn't get a Noctua or a Phanteks. I'm watercooling next year due to lack of funds this year.
Motherboard: I could have gone with an Asus board, however I got the MSI-G45 for three reasons: 1. I got it bundled with my CPU, saving me ~$30 2. It matches the red and black colour scheme I was aiming for 3. I think the features of the G45 (Sound Blaster Audio) outweigh the features of the Z87-A or the UD3H I'm very happy with the G45, it was easy to install, the UEFI feels very nice, and it looks amazing in my case.
RAM: 8GB is more or less standard for gaming PCs these days, and I went with the Ripjaws X because it matches my colour scheme and I got it dirt cheap on Black Friday. There isn't much else to say here.
SSD: The 840 Evo was on sale on Black Friday as well, so that was the main reason I got it over other SSDs, as well as supposed performance increases over other SSDs like the V300 series from Kingston or Intel's SSDs.
HDD: 1TB storage is all I need, and the WD Blue series is supposed to be reliable and relatively speedy. I don't download too many movies and my Steam library isn't too huge so 1TB should last me a long time. I went with this over the Seagate Barracuda because a friend of mine (who helped me build) had a 3TB which failed on him after ~1.5 years of use.
GPU: I was debating between the 770 and the 280x first, and the 770 won because it was the same price on Black Friday as the 280x and came with better extras (in my opinion). Even if Mantle takes off I don't believe it is going to be ground breaking, and since the 770 will most likely get upgraded in 3-4 years if Mantle takes off it will be easy to switch to an AMD card. I got the Gigabyte over the EVGA, MSI, and Asus 770s due to it being the same price as the others (and $20 cheaper than the Asus) but being the highest clocked and best looking (in my opinion).
Wi-Fi Adapter: I got a relatively high-end Wi-FI adapter (as relatively high-end as Wi-FI adapters get) due to being sick and fed up with lag in League of Legends, which I play. Ethernet was an impossibility due to my physical set up, so it was either Wi-Fi or powerline, and Wi-Fi won out due to my familiarity with it and the ability to use it anywhere. Hopefully I won't get any lag in League unlike on some computers coughmylaptopcough.
Case: It was a debate between this, the Corsair 750d, Cooler Master Storm Stryker, and NZXT Source 530 for a long time. This case won out due to aesthetics, best air cooling out of the four (correct me if I'm wrong) while still having good water cooling support. The Phantom 530 can take a 360mm in the top, 240mm in the front, and a 240mm in the bottom, thought the bottom mount looks like it would be a pain. However with the HDD cages removed it can take an obscenely thick 240mm in the front so that had appeal.
Power Supply: I was originally intending to go with the EVGA SuperNova 750G, but as I was ordering NZXT offered to combo this PSU with my GPU. I took it, which in my opinion was a mistake, as it is not fully modular, and the sleeving could be better. However the SeaSonic is an EXTREMELY good PSU nonetheless. The sleeving is nice once you get used to it, even if it is rough. The PSU itself is very quiet, and feels very solidly built, so I have no concerns whatsoever with it (other than the lack of full modularity and the weird PCI-E cable)
Case Fans: Super cheap, thats the main reason I ordered them. $16 for TWO Corsair AF120 fans is pretty darn amazing. I'm going to mount two on the Evo 212 in push/pull for better temps (hopefully) than the stock fan on it, and the other two in the bottom and top.
OS: I went with the multi computer official licence from Microsoft over a $30 key from /r/softwareswap due to there being several computers in my household which may need upgrading over the course of the (near) future. Every person with one of these computers pitched in for the OS, so my portion ended up being around $30 anyways.
LED Strip: Because it looks awesome. 'nuff said.
Speakers and monitors were both gifts. The 27" LG monitor is not present in photos due to it being at my dad's house at the moment. The mouse is really crappy after many years of use, scrolling doesn't work and it won't open drop down menus. I probably will get a new one on Boxing Day, hopefully for cheap. The keyboard is an original Model M, made by IBM, manufactured in 1984 according to the label on the back. The headphones were a Christmas gift last year, and are still in use today (they and the speakers sound amazing).
The Wi-Fi card, HDD, Corsair fans, Evo 212, and OS are all not in the photos due to DirectCanada not shipping my stuff quickly (it's been a week, NewEgg and NCIX shipped in two and three days respectively). Once they arrive and I install them I will post more pictures as well as more benchmarks.
2013/12/21 Edit: So the rest of the parts arrived from DirectCanada and I finally got around to installing them. The wi-fi card is amazing, runs faster than any of the other laptop cards in the house and is rock solid stable. Finally League runs at a steady 85 ping. The HDD is fast and quiet, it generates the most vibrations, however it is non-audible, so I don't mind. The fans are sexy as hell and push a lot of air, no complaints there. The OS I'm happy with, I liked Win8 from day 1 so Win8.1 is an improvement to me. Only issue is keyboard doesn't have a Windows key so I had to use AutoHotKey to bind Alt + W to press the Windows key.
CPU Cooler: Runs much cooler than the stock fan, however MUCH louder at load. At idle it's quieter than the stock, but at load it is actually noticeable from the rest of the noises coming from the case. However it cools extremely well considering the price. Load temps (hottest core after 12hr Prime95 blend test) are 74 degrees. only a few hotter than the stock cooler. It did hit 92 degrees over night, but highest I've seen while gaming is 55 degrees so I'm not particularly worried. Can't wait until I have money to watercool next summer :D
GPU temps were taken after one pass of Unigine Valley 1.0 @ Ultra graphics and 8x Anti-Aliasing.