I have decided to make the plunge into building my own rig. I have been scouring forums, including this one to glean as much information as possible and have incorporated those recommendations that worked for me, while still sticking to some components that I was partial to (i.e., case). Any final advice, or even humor me with a blessing as I shamelessly seek validation (to provide an ounce of confidence that I'm starting to actually have a clue what I'm doing) would be great.
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K ($224.99)
Heatsink: Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid Cooler ($79.99)
Probably overkill, but any fan/heatsink combo over 150mm tall (almost all) prevented me from using side fan on case (completely vain but loved the case and the blue LED on side fan).
MB: GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-UD2H ($159.99)
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaw 8GB (2 x 4GB) ($94.99)
GPU: XFX HD-697A-CNFC Radeon HD 6970 2GB ($319.99)
Case: IN WIN Dragon Rider Black ($129.99)
Again, was a sucker for the look here.
PS: Antec TruePower New TP-650 650W ($79.99)
Wanted to ensure I had a modular PS for cable management
Hard Drive: Western Digital 1TB 7200 RPM ($84.99)
Got several recommendations for Samsung product, but newegg reviews showed a consistent fail rate complaint that scared me off a bit.
Solid State Drive: OCZ OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD3-2VTX120G 3.5" 120GB ($159.99)
DVD-RW: Asus DVD-RW ($21.99)
Media Reader: Koutech all-in-one ($19.99)
Keyboard: Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Keyboard ($52.95)
Mouse: RAZER DeathAdder ($44.99)
TOTAL: $1,776.81 (after rebates)