Sorry but I totally disagree with ketxxx, near enough on all of that.
OP said "NO lag whatsoever", so for me an SSD is an absolute must. And I think most would agree on either a Samsung 830 or the Crucial m4. SSD > 3770K > 3570K > 2500K for me.
In this recent thread the only mention of the C300 was to say it wasn't up to scratch, not even one person recommended it. Buying first SSD and I WANT THE BEST!!
As for reliability, I'd recommend using the SSD as a boot drive, so reliability even if it was poor (which from my experience is similar or better than a mechanical HDD) isn't really an issue. I would ofcourse recommend that the OP backs up all his data that is on his HDD storage drive as this is the most likely to fail and will have all of his important work on it.
Buying a Z77 for VirtuMVP and PCI-E 3.0 is a poor investment, there's no future proofing in the build that the OP has asked about here, so what exactly is that bringing? Buying it because the price is almost the same as a Z68 makes sense, but if it's $50 difference and another $100 plus for a 3770K, that's a big chunk of his budget for very very very little gain.
16GB for photo editing? An uncompressed 12 megapixel bitmap takes 36mb of space? How many photos are you planning on editing at one time?
Yes 16GB gives more headroom so to speak (although I'm 99.9% sure it'll be unnecessary), yes 3770K is better than a 3570K, yes a 7870 is better than a 7850, but the OP doesn't require this and would simply be wasting money.
For me, 3570K, either Z68 or Z77, Samsung 8GB Ram, Samsung 830 256GB SSD and either a 7850 or 7870 depending on price would be an overkill for most stuff, but would ensure no-lag and a good gaming rig to boot. Plus hopefully save the OP some money for next time.
Just my opinion, am very happy for others to voice them to help the OP decide on what's best.
DBEdited by Del Boy - 10/26/12 at 6:32am