Let's get all the background info out of the way. I am going into my senior year of college as a mechanical engineer and have been looking to build a computer for a couple of years. I knew very little about computer parts and what what works and doesn't work back then, but I studied up on the topic as all "good" college students do when they don't know something. Turns out saving money each paycheck actually adds up to a significant amount over time, and that is how this build was possible.
This PC will be used for gaming (when I have time), everyday stuff like web browsing and word processing. I also suspect I will need to do some CAD modeling.
At the moment, I do not have a desk, so I use the floor. It works and I also get to lay down when I want to :)
Now onto the build itself:
CPU: I was originally looking at AMD, but I decided to spend the extra money to get Intel for the efficiency and single thread performance. I have not over-clocked yet because I do not see a need to at this point.
CPU Cooler: As everyone knows, this thing is hard to beat in the performance for the price area
Motherboard: It looks cool first of all, but it also supports over-clocking well from what I have read. Another thing that attracted me to it is the SLI and Crossfire capability at this price point.
Memory: Back when I started looking into computer building, RAM was being given away for free with a motherboard purchase... I wish that were still the case. Oh well. I went with Gskill because I have heard nothing but good things about the company's products and it also looked nice with my motherboard.
Storage: I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the extra money on an SSD, but I am glad I did. My PC boots up in what feels like no time at all compared to other computers and the programs I have on it load up really quickly :) The HDD is pretty standard for most people, so I went with the crowd on this one.
Video Card: This was by far the hardest choice of the entire build. When I convinced myself to spend more on the GPU then was originally intended, I decided to get a GTX 770 or an R9 280x. In the end, I figure the performance difference is not that big and the extra VRAM will be handy for modding Skyrim and if I run Crossfire at some point. Then I went with the Gigabyte version because I read from multiple sources that it was having less failures and artifacting than competing cards. Also, I supported the end of the card with a zip tie to prevent sag as shown in one of the pictures.
Case: People say that this case is very easy to build in, and they would be correct, especially for a first time builder. I was going to get the regular version with no window, but I found this one on sale for the same price and I impulse bought it. No regrets here.
Power Supply: The R9 280x recommends a higher wattage rated PSU, but when I looked into how much power people were actually drawing from PC's with similar specs to what I was planning, I knew that the higher efficiency and slightly lower wattage would probably be a better choice in the long run. It is silent, has a good warranty, and appears to be stable, so I am happy with my choice.
Operating System: I got this cheap (relatively) through my school. I like Windows 8.1 unlike some people.
Keyboard: I knew I wanted a mechanical keyboard, but I didn't want to spend lots of money on one. I was fortunate that for my birthday, my parents got me a gift card to Microcenter. I also found this one open box, so the final cost to me was about $60. Thanks Mom and Dad :)
Mouse: I have had this thing for several years and have loved using it the entire time. This was also a gift from my parents back in the day.
Headphones: I got these about a year ago to drown out the background noise in my apartment at school as well as listening to music through quality headphones instead of crappy earbuds. Let's just say I have used these almost everyday for several hours a day and love them. When they wear out, I suspect I will get the new version because I like them that much.
Monitor: I got this at the start of freshman year, so that is about 3 years ago. It gets the job done and it also has a TV tuner in it which can be handy. I want to get the Asus PA248q at some point because I want a 1920x1200 IPS screen for the added vertical screen space and picture quality.
In the near future, I plan to put some LEDs in the case to show off the parts as well as add another intake fan. Later on, I will over-clock my CPU and maybe upgrade the CPU cooler to a liquid cooler all-in-one. Thanks for reading this far. This was a fun project and I officially have the PC building bug. Looking forward to the next one, whenever that may be. Comments are welcome.