Here's my thoughts so far - started with the Memorial Day sweet spot build, and made a few tweaks. My budget is $1500, including monitor. Prices are either estimates or NewEgg - I'll buy parts from NewEgg, Amazon, etc. depending on price.
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i5-3550 3.3GHz 209.99
Asus P8Z77-V LK 149.99
16GB DDR3-1600 100.00
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850 (975MHz) 259.99
SSD (128GB - Crucial M4?) 115.00
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 109.99
Asus DRW-24B1ST (DVD-RW) 17.99
Asus Xonar DG 26.94
NZXT H2 case 89.99
Seasonic M12II 520W psu 59.99
Hyper 212 Evo CPU cooler 32.99
Rosewill Wireless-N adapter 19.99
Dell 2312HM 1920x1080 23" IPS 240.00
Noise - I'd prefer this system to be very quiet at idle - the last desktop I had sounded like a jet when it was running. I'm hoping the H2 case, with the 212 Evo cooler will help with that. Should I be concerned about fan noise from this PSU and this particular 7850?
SSD - I've been out of the loop for a bit. I remember some fiasco with BSODs, but that seems to be a thing of the past. Any particular brand/model recommendation? Looking for a 128GB system drive at about the $1/GB price point.
HDD - if I have the 128GB SSD as the main drive, do I need the speed of the F3? Or would a similarly priced 2TB be good as a steam/photo/video drive?
Optical - Don't care too much about bluray at the moment, and that's an easy upgrade later.
RAM - what speed do I need here? Is 1600 good? Any reason for 4x4GB vs 2x8GB?
Mobo - here's where I really need the advice. There are several variants of mobos, all around the $150 price range. I don't mind paying +/- $20 if it's worth it. Integrated bluetooth would be nice for the future, but not worried about it if it's more than a $20 increase - I can get an adapter for that price.
CPU - Don't plan on OCing, especially with the overall plan to keep this system relatively quiet. And, the non-K processors appear to have some additional virtualization-related instruction sets, which would probably be beneficial to me (or would they?). Can't seem to justify the $300+ price of the i7.
Other - already have keyboard/mouse, and plan on getting a 2.1 speaker of some sort.
OS - have a family pack of Win 7 premium. I'll upgrade to Pro if I get >32GB ram.
Here's the kicker - I'd really like to be able to have 2 of the Dell 2312HM monitors and keep the price at $1500, but I can't see any good place to cut $170 from the rest of the build to make this possible. Should I just go with this and a single monitor, and add another monitor later? Or can I cut $170 without hurting this build too much?
I know there's threads like this all the time, but I figure you guys wouldn't be here if you didn't like looking over builds. Anyways, thanks for the advice!