Three things I would change for sure are the video card, motherboard, and PSU. The GTX550 Ti has been a bad value ever since it was released. Get something like a HD6850 or GTX460 1GB, both of which are generally around the same price but perform better.
- Sapphire HD6850 + Free Dirt 3 Game: $119.99 after MIR
There is no reason to get an old AMD 870 AM3 motherboard when the 970 AM3+ boards are lower priced than the board you chose. This would give better upgradeability with the option to move to Piledriver AMD chips when they are released. You can even get a very high end open box Asus 990FX Sabertooth for not much more.PSU
The PSU is a very crucial component so I wouldn't get a cheapo Raidmax. Spend a little more on a high quality Seasonic M12II 520W (it's also modular like the Raidmax).
- Seasonic M12II 520W: $59.99 + shipping
The rest of the components are not bad but you could probably do better. For the RAM, higher clocked sticks are not much more expensive or go cheap with the very overclockable Samsung 30nm RAM.Case
The Antec 300 is a great case but it's really old. There are better cases with newer designs like the Antec Gaming Series One, Corsair 300R, NZXT Source 210, and so on.
The 965BE CPU is about the best you can get for the price. If the X4 960T was still readily available I'd go with that but it's not.
For the hard drive I'd get a Samsung F3 1TB. I'm not familiar with the speed of that WD Black hard drive but it's probably not much more than the Samsung. Plus the Samsung has double the capacity. Decent hard drive deals are getting easier to find but prices are still higher since the Thailand flood. Another option is a small SSD and cheap hard drive but that might put you over budget.
I'm not a big fan of Acer as their build quality usually tends to be lacking. I'm also not a fan of cheap TN panels. IPS panels are often quite a bit more expensive but there are some decent budget options. The cheapest IPS model I could find is an Asus VS229H-P 21.5" 1920x1080. Monitors are the least upgraded component of a computer and are a long term investments so I'd highly recommend getting a quality monitor. IPS monitors have much better viewing angles and colors compared to TN panels.
- Asus VS229H-P 21.5" IPS: $163.99 + shipping
Sorry for the long reply but I hope it was helpful. Best of luck with your friends build.Edited by Ben the OCer - 7/17/12 at 12:53am