Thank you PCPartPicker for your fantastic website. It helped me greatly to pick my parts. Thank you also to TheTechReport for their system guide (Link) and TomsHardware for their Best gaming CPU article (Link).
This build is an upgrade of my current system. I originally had a budget of $500, but decided to go with some more oomph. I decided to keep a few parts, including the Cooler Master Mystique 632, the Cooler Master Real Power Pro 850W and the Noctua NF-S12-1200, because they are still working very well. For the rest, I upgraded them as follows.
Processor: Intel Core i5-4590, excellent single thread and multi-task performer with 4 cores (4 threads). I chose this mainly because it was perhaps the best processor to buy without overclocking. The overclockable Intel Core i5-4690K is about $30 more, so I'd suggest to pick that one if you're looking into overclocking. I myself am more or less interested in it nowadays. I use some heavy medical software, so this processor should give a nice boost from my older Intel E2160. I originally wanted the Core i3-4160, but I figured a quad core would be more future-proof.
Motherboard: I initially wanted the ASUS H97-PLUS because it had an excellent feature set, but it was out of stock at NCIX.com, so I opted for the ASUS Z97-C for $15 more. Easy to install, easy to use. The UEFI bios is beautiful and intuitive. Stock bios version was 0336 and it was easily upgraded to the latest 2304 via EZ Flash 2 in the bios. Excellent fan control settings with the included Fan Xpert in AISuite.
Memory: The best 8GB kit I could get for the price of $90. Black coloured to match the motherboard. Lifetime guarantee and a service depot in Canada made the decision easy.
SSD: The Sandisk Ultra II is new and performs just as well as the Crucial MX100. Marvell controllers are fantastic. Very snappy in Windows 8.1. It gets 500/500 MB/s for read/writes. Big fan of how the SanDisk SSD Dashboard looks too.
SSD 2.5" to 3.5" adapter: I needed the Kingston 2.5 to 3.5in Brackets and Screws SNA-BR2/35 (SNA-BR2/35) since my Cooler Master Mystique 632 does not support 2.5" drives. It fits perfectly with both the SSD and the HDD tool-less brackets. Fantastic product and it only costs $2.
HDD: I wanted something large enough to hold all my media and files since my current Hitachi 250GB was no longer cutting it. Sequential read was important because I have many large 1GB files. The WD Green fit the bill. 2-year warranty is a bit underwhelming, but it will do. Quiet, but audible seek noise. Idles at 25C.
Optical drive: I've only used LG DVD drives so far, but I decided to match the DVD drive with my motherboard, so ASUS it is. Average spin noise. Mildly disappointed that the SATA power connector partly broke when I removed the power supply plug from it, but it still works (see picture). I will go back to a LG DVD drive for my next build.
Things to do:
Video card: My old video card is a XFX 8800GT with a Arctic Cooler Twin Turbo cooler. It still has some oomph for modern gaming, but I don't play many things right now. At most, I'll play League of Legends or Team Fortress 2, and the Intel GPU seems to be cutting it for now. Otherwise, I'll consider getting a Nvidia GTX 750 or 750 TI. I mostly prefer Nvidia because of of how their drivers are better than AMD.
Fans: I might consider putting in a front intake fan in the future. As it is now, both the SSD and HDDs are running at 30C, which is not bad at all. I have a spare Noctua NF-S12-800 that I might use when I upgrade the video card.
CPU Cooler: The stock CPU cooler is quiet enough for my needs at the moment, pretty much silent on idle after tweaking with Asus Fan Xpert 3. I will consider replacing when I consider overclocking the BCLK a bit or when summer comes. I'll consider getting a Noctua NH-U12s in the future mostly because I love the premium feel & excellent end-user support by Noctua. On a budget, I would consider the Cooler Master TX3 ,TX4 or Hyper 212.
Case: A silent case would be my pick. Antec P100, Fractal Design Define R5, Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 or Anidees AI6BS.
Comments are welcomed. Thanks for reading.
One of the best Core i5 to get without overclocking. Quad-core, very snappy. Windows and games have never been faster.
Amazing features for an excellent price. Overclocking and fan profiles are superb.
Sleek looking and no issues so far with an ASUS Z97-C.
Amazing value for an excellent SSD. My number one choice for OS and games.
Huge 3TB capacity. Reliable. Quiet.
Questionable build quality. No ASUS branding on drive cover; very bland looking. Look for LG or Samsung instead.