I don't know what to put in my build. All I really need is a decent graphics card, at least 8GB of ram, and good cooling. I also want the build to include the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. my budget is $500.
Second question to you. Do you care about electricity consumption? Why do I ask?
AMD = cheaper but usually runs hotter and uses more electricity. Fast though and cost efficient initially
Intel = pricier, but are reliable, consumes less electricity and if you don't play high graphic games, the integrated graphics in some models are more than enough.
I did some calculations for a friend. If you use your computer often and play for maybe 2 hours a day almost everyday, then after about 3 years, an intel will save you more money than the AMD (similar specs for both models/ tier)
At least 8gb of ram....?
8 gigs is really all you will ever need. I mean, sure I am running 16, but I almost never really need that much. I just have it to complement my other parts and to have a beast machine.
4 to 8 gigs is all you really need these days.
You'll need something around 500W for your PSU (power supply) having an 80+ (bronze/silver/gold) is up to you, it will cost more but in the long run save you money.
GPU, nvidia GTX 650 or a radeon 7770/7750 will basically run anything you play at either on normal or high or even maxed settings
Case is up to you. I like my builds to look nice, so I spend a little more on my cases.
a $500 build will normally be a mid tower case.
Most cases have decent air cooling. I would get an aftermarket cooler for the cpu though and maybe one more fan.
For a monitor, there are plenty of 21" to 23" monitors that go on sale for around $100. If you can't afford it, there are plenty of 19" that go for around $70.
If you don't care for gaming or nice mouses/key boards, there are combo wired and wireless sets that are under $30
So my build in that budget....
AMD phenom II (90ish) or an i3 2100 (100ish)
8 gb ram (your choice of brand) if on sale, around $40
500gb HDD ( i like WD or samsung as my choice in brands) $45-90 depending on how reliable/fast you want it to be. You can opt for a lower capacity one and save some money too.
Cheap power supplies can go for 20-30 dollars, but I wouldn't trust it too much. Go with a reliable brand like antec/ocz/corsair/nzxt/etc. it'll run you around $50-$70
A gtx 650 or Radeon 7750/7770 will run around $130 ish if you can get it for cheap/on sale.
A whatever case will run you around $30 maybe even $20
After market cpu fan on sale will cost around $15
Then a MoBo (make sure to find one that will support all the parts) will run you around $40 if you don't plan on getting a nice one.
Total without a monitor or mouse/keyboard, averaging it out, you're looking at $465.
Optional downgrade GPU: GT640 or 6670 or something a little cheaper will save $50
You'll be at 415 leaving you 85 for your peripherals. 60-70 for a screen and the rest for a basic mouse/keyboard set.
This build is focused more on the power it will have compared to the luxuries like a larger screen or nice keyboard/mouse.
Really most people set a budget of 500 for the tower alone, so this is kinda hard since I don't know what you want to run and at what level. Are you playing casual games? Epic high end graphic games?
With a deal and sale/free shipping you can probably expect the total of the PC itself (no peripherals) to drop down to 375 and splurge the rest on peripherals.
These are estimated prices for the components if they are NEW.
If you have some friends or craiglist some parts, you can probably get some really nice stuff for a heck of a discount.
TigerDirect and NewEgg are my favorite online stores to shop.
Check them out, subscribe to them, and buy parts when they have a good sale/promotion. Tiger direct has a lot of gaming PC combo packs on sale, which is like what I listed above but packaged to a discount. You can basically just add on to that or get a basic one with no GPU and just buy a decent on to go with it.
If you really don't care for company, durability, the look, or sketchiness of the brand, then feel free to downgrade the PSU to a $20 one. Ditch the aftermarket CPU fan and go with the stock fan, they work fine, but your build will run a little warmer. Go cheap with the case $20. Downgrade the GPU to something in the $60-85 range. Maybe downgrade the CPU to a AMD A6 or something ($70 or lower range) and lower your HDD
These are possible downgrades or budget cuts you can do to get a nicer monitor or mouse/keyboard. You may want to do this if you don't have a CD reader and need to buy one/use it.
Oh yeah, this is without any programs. If you want certain programs and an OS, you will need to put some money aside to buy them or find free ones to use like Linux.
Hope this helps
Good luck and have fun.