Comp novice thinking of building a computer - need tips

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jmrwacko

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#1  Edited By jmrwacko

 So, I've never really actually put a computer together component-by-component from scratch. The most I've done is install video cards and ram. So I'd like some tips as to how to build a fast, economical rig for as cheap as I can ($1000 or less, hopefully - I already have monitor/peripherals) that will outperform my aging Intel 2 duo 1.87 ghz, Geforce 8800m laptop.
 
I was thinking of buying the following barebones Intel kit: 
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5325903&Sku=B69-1135
 
But I'm a little confused as to whether that motherboard's PCIe slot supports PCIe2 cards. And then there's the whole issue of third parties selling graphics cards with identical specs but at significantly different prices. What's up with that? Can anyone tell me if the bundle listed above will support the most recent GPUs, and suggest a GPU to get. I'd like a Nvidea card because apparently they handle shaders and antialiasing better, but beyond that I'm clueless. I'll also need to pick up a sound card, so I was wondering if there's any significant differences in quality between various sound cards, or if I should just pick up a cheap Creative Labs card. I only use 2.1 stereo and headphones for gaming.
 
Also, is it worth the $500 investment to buy a SSD for gaming? I've heard really great things about solid state drives, but they cost so damn much per gigabyte. 
 
Also also, I have Windows 7 64-bit. Would I be able to install it right off a flash drive if the hard drive's only running BIOS?
 
Thanks!

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#2  Edited By Xelloss

"One PCI Express* 2.0 x 16 bus add-in card connector" Off Intels website.
 
No don't get a SSD drive they are not worth it.  For the Windows 64 bit you just run the disc/flashdrive and install it through the prompts that i gives you.  Your Bios is the software that's on your motherboard.  

Look into getting a GTX275-GTX285, the new GTX300 series is coming out next year, like 2 or 3 months, you could go with a cheaper graphics card now like GTX250 or GTX260 and upgrade then.  
 
I would save the money and just use the onboard sound, unless you don't like it then just get a X-FI titanium or something.

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#3  Edited By Renahzor

BIOS is a motherboards default operating procedures.  You setup the BIOS to boot from other sources into a OS.  On initial install this will be a CD typically.  Do you have the full installable version of Win7 on a flash drive like a disk?  Typically you'd have your brand new OS disk shipped with a new PC.  
 
No on the SS drive from me too.  A good 10k RPM terabyte drive will be way cheaper and do just fine for the most part.  If you're not running drive intensive software a TON then its probably not worthwhile.  Games are usually much more processor/GPU/RAM intense than HD lookup speed.  SSD's are more for development platforms IMO (video creation, software/graphic development, etc).  Until they come way way down on $$/GB, no, not worth it.
 
I too, would go with onboard audio for the most part, if you decide it's not enough you can certainly pop in something later.   Of course this board doesnt seem to have anything special for onboard audio, so yeah. 
 
Im not up to date on the brand newest GPU's.  A motherboard, powersupply, and video card that supports SLI/crossfire out of the box is probably a good idea though, it will always be nice to have the option of just doubling up your GPU down the road.  All motherboards will spec which (and how many) slots support which type and version of PCI-e.

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#4  Edited By mrhankey

 http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/18042
 
That should help you with everything. Do not do bare bones. If you're a little nervous about building one yourself you can pick up a "how-to" at any local bookstores. Mine has the one's made by the pc gamer staff.

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#5  Edited By Kblt

SSD is unnecessary. 2 HDDs, one for Windows and programs and one for gaems + other stuff like media, is good enough. Also I wouldn't ever build a barebone.
 
Get ATI 5850/5870 and an i5 if your budget allows it. Also if you're plannig to game mainly I'd get only 4gbs of RAM and leave it at that.

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#6  Edited By Shadowsquire
@Kblt said:
" SSD is unnecessary. 2 HDDs, one for Windows and programs and one for gaems + other stuff like media, is good enough. Also I wouldn't ever build a barebone.  Get ATI 5850/5870 and an i5 if your budget allows it. Also if you're plannig to game mainly I'd get only 4gbs of RAM and leave it at that. "
This. And if you're looking for a fast preforming HDD the Western Digital Black is the way to go without getting super expensive.
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#7  Edited By Kblt
@Shadowsquire said:
" @Kblt said:
" SSD is unnecessary. 2 HDDs, one for Windows and programs and one for gaems + other stuff like media, is good enough. Also I wouldn't ever build a barebone.  Get ATI 5850/5870 and an i5 if your budget allows it. Also if you're plannig to game mainly I'd get only 4gbs of RAM and leave it at that. "
This. And if you're looking for a fast preforming HDD the Western Digital Black is the way to go without getting super expensive. "
Seconding Western Digital Caviar Blacks
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ajamafalous

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#8  Edited By ajamafalous

If you're set on an nVidia card, the GTX 275 is the best price:performance ratio.
 
 
And I, too, recommend a Western Digital Caviar Black.

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@jmrwacko said:
" So, I've never really actually put a computer together component-by-component from scratch. The most I've done is install video cards and ram. So I'd like some tips as to how to build a fast, economical rig for as cheap as I can ($1000 or less, hopefully - I already have monitor/peripherals) that will outperform my aging Intel 2 duo 1.87 ghz, Geforce 8800m laptop.  I was thinking of buying the following barebones Intel kit:  http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?" 
 
thats pretty much where i started off, you should know enough to be able to put one together, just look into a few things. 
 
how to install a cpu (best place is either youtube or old amd videos that were titled "how to install cpu/heatsink") 
power supply requirements (will the video card need a plug, what does the mobo require, etc.)
cooling (particularly with newer stuff, you will want to replace the stock cooler, maybe add some case fans, etc.)
  
 i would suggest avoiding the barebones kit, just use that as a shopping list and head over to newegg.  buy a better power supply antec/corsair is good and get a good mobo.  i know the gigabyte ones have the double thick board to help with cooling and msi's big bang will be a good one to look at. 
 
one last thing to keep in mind, spend all out on your cpu.  its a lot easier to swap out a video card and get better gameplay, but doing a cpu requires a lot of work.  spend there first, and just use your old card for now or just get one of the $110 bargains out there.

@jmrwacko said:
" I'll also need to pick up a sound card, so I was wondering if there's any significant differences in quality between various sound cards, or if I should just pick up a cheap Creative Labs card. I only use 2.1 stereo and headphones for gaming.  Also, is it worth the $500 investment to buy a SSD for gaming? I've heard really great things about solid state drives, but they cost so damn much per gigabyte.   Also also, I have Windows 7 64-bit. Would I be able to install it right off a flash drive if the hard drive's only running BIOS? Thanks! "
i used to use a sound card, but on the new ones, the onboard is all thx and 7.1 so just use that until you can afford the card you want. 
 
as for ssd's, just get one to install os only, but keep in mind you have 100,000 writes or something like that.  wait until prices go down and grab yourself a 1 tb with a 5 year warranty for 100 bux. 
 
@jmrwacko said:
" Also also, I have Windows 7 64-bit. Would I be able to install it right off a flash drive if the hard drive's only running BIOS? Thanks! " 
not sure, when you first turn the pc on, you go to bios, select the boot order, im sure usb will be there, and when it reboots you hit a key to run from usb and install from there.

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#10  Edited By jmrwacko

Alright, after reading that techreport article, reconsidering the CPU, hearing really bad things about the Seagate drive, and deciding I might as well blow my ENTIRE checking account, new list:
 
Intel Core i7-860 2.8 ghz Quad Core
GIGABYTE Intel ATX Motherboard 
Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 7200 RPM SATA
CORSAIR 650 W power supply
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Drive
GeForce GTX 275 896 MB
 Antec Black Aluminum Mid Tower Case
 
This comes out to $1150 plus shipping. So... am I missing anything? Will I need some special tools, glue, thermal paste? I haven't gotten around to reading a guide to build this thing yet. 

Also, will the motherboard have a good enough onboard sound or should I get a sound card? The one recommended on the site was sold out.
 
Got my finger over the order button. Need... confirmation.... arghh...
 

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sodiumCyclops

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#11  Edited By sodiumCyclops

Wait and get the GTX 380, the benchmarking is awesome for it.
 
http://www.giantbomb.com/pc/60-94/first-nvidia-fermi-benchmark-results-leaked/35-378078/#42

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#12  Edited By Xelloss
@sodiumCyclops said:

" Wait and get the GTX 380, the benchmarking is awesome for it.   http://www.giantbomb.com/pc/60-94/first-nvidia-fermi-benchmark-results-leaked/35-378078/#42 "

I wouldn't wait, those cards will cost $600 for 380 and $400-500 for 360 when they come out. 
 
If you get a aftermarket cooler for your processor (which is recommend though I don't know the best one for the i7 Cores, also becareful and make sure they will fit with your motherboard, look for complaint, sometimes a fan on the mobo or something can be in the way.) grab some Arctic Silver thermal paste and remover. Your CPU does come with fan and cooler, so you can live with that for awhile till you can buy another.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007
  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100010 
Also I would say go with the corsair 750 or 850. The Corsairs are great.  
Your looking at a 1 more after rebate on Newegg for Corsair 750 vs 650, and 850 after rebate is 40.
 650
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139005&cm_re=corsair_power_supply-_-17-139-005-_-Product
750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006&cm_re=corsair_power_supply-_-17-139-006-_-Product

850
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139009&cm_re=corsair_power_supply-_-17-139-009-_-Product
The other question since you didn't give us the exact motherboard, is if you have Dual DDR3 ram slots or Tri DDR3 ram slots, cause if you have say 6 ram slots then you should get a 3 ram pack bringing you to 6 GB.
 
Other then that you are fine good luck on build.
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jmrwacko

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#13  Edited By jmrwacko

Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I don't know about waiting for the GTX 380. The day it comes out it will be prohibitively expensive, so I might as well get the GTX 275 and upgrade to the 380 when I start taking performance hits in a couple of years, no?
 
Also, according to that website mrhanky listed, 650W should be a sufficient power supply. They recommended 650W because of power efficiency and because it's quieter, apparently. And I'm not even using a sound card, so it should work, right?
 
Umm, I think it does have tri DDR3 slots, but I'm going to stick with 4 gb because I heard games don't support > 4 gigs yet.

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#14  Edited By Xelloss
@jmrwacko said:

" Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I don't know about waiting for the GTX 380. The day it comes out it will be prohibitively expensive, so I might as well get the GTX 275 and upgrade to the 380 when I start taking performance hits in a couple of years, no?  Also, according to that website mrhanky listed, 650W should be a sufficient power supply. They recommended 650W because of power efficiency and because it's quieter, apparently. And I'm not even using a sound card, so it should work, right?  Umm, I think it does have tri DDR3 slots, but I'm going to stick with 4 gb because I heard games don't support > 4 gigs yet. "

Yeah they will be balls expensive 600 for 380.  Don't worry about the noise on powersupply, you don't hear them, even on a graphics load you will hear your graphics card fan over everything else.  With 750 watt you get more lee way when adding in more harddrives, and maybe a fatty graphics card in the next year or 2.  The 750 has the same efficiency rating as the 750 watt, you don't use 750 watt unless your using 750 watts of power underload.  With your system should come in at about 400-600 with your system under load.
 
You should be using what your motherboard recommends, while 4 GB is plenty, 6 won't hurt you at all, and you will be running at the faster Tri Channel-DDR3 which is better then Dual Channel-DDR3.
 Heres some graphs that show the difference, however do a little more research to understand the difference for yourself.
  http://forums.pcper.com/showpost.php?s=b18b09886795f6444169327208e87fe3&p=4331959&postcount=6
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#15  Edited By jmrwacko

I looked up the motherboard, it's actually dual channel. Should I get a better motherboard now? If I keep inching my way up higher and higher performance-wise I'll eventually be spending $5000 lol.

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#16  Edited By Chyro

What is the max resolution on your monitor?

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sodiumCyclops

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#17  Edited By sodiumCyclops

Yeah was only kidding around about the GTX380. I actually have a Galaxy GTX 275 896mb and it's a very, very strong card. Also like others have said, it's price to performance ratio is spot on.

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#18  Edited By jmrwacko

My monitor is 1980x1020, so yeah I'm going to need a strong GPU. All this sounds good though. Updated components list:
 
 Intel Core i7-920 2.66 ghz Quad Core (upgraded from the i7-860)
GIGABYTE Intel ATX Motherboard 
Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 7200 RPM SATA
CORSAIR 750 W power supply (moar powers)
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Drive
GeForce GTX 275 896 MB
Antec Black Aluminum Mid Tower Case  
 
Only thing I'm worried about is that the GPU won't fit in the Antec case (people were complaining that they had to remove the middle rack to fit it). But I'd like the Antec case because A) It's mid sized, B) It's pretty, and C) It comes with fans, so I don't need a separate cooling solution.

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#19  Edited By MagikGimp

Waste of time IMHO. I built a computer 10 years ago but things were a lot different back then. There's so much more to learn these days you're better of getting a company of dedicated enthusiasts turned pro doing it for you who can give you a real top of the line system. That is unless you want to become one of them yourself of course.

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#20  Edited By Chyro

Solid build I would say.
 
Can you link your case?  Airflow is extremely important and you don't want to forgo just to save $20.

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#21  Edited By ajamafalous
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#22  Edited By jmrwacko
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129061 <--- case
 
To the guy above saying I should just get a prebuilt comp... was looking at this: 
http://www.dell.com/us/en/home/desktops/alienware-aurora/pd.aspx?refid=alienware-aurora&s=dhs&cs=19
 
Won't cost any more than building my comp from scratch, and has more or less equivalent specs to the computer I was going to build except a GeForce 9800 instead of a GeForce GTX 275, and only 3 gigs DDR3 ram. Will be more compact, but I heard you can't overclock the CPU past 2.8 ghz, and it may be difficult with that small a case to install larger graphics cards as they become available.
 
Oh god, the indecision, it burns.
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#23  Edited By Chyro

The problem with the Dell computer is not just the video card and ram.  You also have a 525 watt power supply standard in that one it looks like.  It's probably not a high quality one.  That's like a $500 difference in price with the video card and power supply if you wanted to add both of those.  I just built my first after owning a Dell and I would NEVER go back to prebuilt. 

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#24  Edited By jmrwacko

I actually owned a Dell XPS (Pentium 4 3.2 ghz, 4 gigs of Ram and an old GeForce MX card, upgraded to a GeForce 7800) from 2002 to 2007 with absolutely no problems. Of course, it cost a lot more than it would have if I had built it myself (but nobody expects a 12 year old to build his own computer), but it seems nowadays the price difference between components and prebuilt has dropped dramatically. It's reminding me of brand name cars versus car components.
 
But whatever, I think I'm pretty adamant on the whole experience of building a computer myself, so lets discuss the case and then I'll hit that big shiny order button and lose half my work study money.

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#25  Edited By Xelloss

Build your own.  Keep your specs, Yeah like you were saying you keep inching up in price you have to stop somewhere.  I only wanted to make sure you weren't going to put dual in a tri mobo, but you will be fine with dual channel DDR3.  The most performance boost you will get will always be from the Graphics card then the CPU.  High clocked rams and tri ram really are for people that want to overclock and keep there CPU fsb synced with their ram.
 
Just find the right case,  I can tell you that this case will fit your cards just fine, just keep looking around. That Antec looks tight, my GTX 280s hang about an inch/half inch off the Mobo you can see that that case the screws where you mount the Mobo are pretty much right on where the HDDs will go, so its probably safe to say that your GTX 275 will not fit in that Antec case.
 
This is going to be a great system.

Intel Core i7-920 2.66 ghz Quad Core (upgraded from the i7-860)
GIGABYTE Intel ATX Motherboard 
Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 7200 RPM SATA
CORSAIR 750 W power supply (moar powers)
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Drive
GeForce GTX 275 896 MB
Antec Black Aluminum Mid Tower Case   

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#26  Edited By jmrwacko

Hmm, the case you listed, or this? I dig the look of the Antec case more, it's shorter (will fit under my desk) and it's on sale for $50 off. Do you think it will keep my components cool and be large enough?

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#27  Edited By Chyro

I have this case
 
 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112154
 
And with my 260 216 I still have an inch of space left between my card and my HD bay.  It keeps my card at a steady 44/60 Celsius under idle and load.  Although I replaced the stock fans with Scythe fans.  This case is a pretty huge mid tower though so I would check the specs on it.

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#28  Edited By SirPsychoSexy
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#29  Edited By torus
@jmrwacko said:
" Hmm, the case you listed, or this? I dig the look of the Antec case more, it's shorter (will fit under my desk) and it's on sale for $50 off. Do you think it will keep my components cool and be large enough?   
 For some reason, gamers seem to love the Antec 900- but there are definitely better cases out there. Personally, I'm a big fan of the NZXT Tempest. 
 

No Caption Provided
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#30  Edited By Xelloss
@jmrwacko said:

" Hmm, the case you listed, or this? I dig the look of the Antec case more, it's shorter (will fit under my desk) and it's on sale for $50 off. Do you think it will keep my components cool and be large enough? "

Should be good, someone commented on the reviews that they had to take out the middle fan holder to fit their GTX260 in it, but was enough room for everything. 
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#31  Edited By VanderSEXXX
@jmrwacko said:

" My monitor is 1980x1020, so yeah I'm going to need a strong GPU. All this sounds good though. Updated components list:    

  Intel Core i7-920 2.66 ghz Quad Core (upgraded from the i7-860)    GIGABYTE Intel ATX Motherboard  Western Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 7200 RPM SATA CORSAIR 750 W power supply (moar powers)4 GB DDR3 SDRAM Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Drive GeForce GTX 275 896 MB Antec Black Aluminum Mid Tower Case    Only thing I'm worried about is that the GPU won't fit in the Antec case (people were complaining that they had to remove the middle rack to fit it). But I'd like the Antec case because A) It's mid sized, B) It's pretty, and C) It comes with fans, so I don't need a separate cooling solution. "

This is already good stuff you're planning to get.  
 
But if you're looking for a little more, you might want to change that motherboard into an ASUS Rampage Extreme II.  
Highly recommended for gaming (since I prioritize motherboards whenever I buy PC's).  
However if your budget allows you to go further then go for the ASUS Maximus III Formula ( http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=0ODEkxv4cmlXkqmr&templete=2).  
 
Then try not to get generic value RAM if possible and go for the Corsair Dominator Series memory kits ( http://www.corsair.com/products/dominator/default.aspx).
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#32  Edited By AndrewB

My advice for any budding computer builder is to do a whole lot of research. Seriously. If you go out and buy a whole bunch of parts you don't completely understand and try to put them together, and something goes wrong (as it invariably will, either now, or later), you'll be in trouble. There is no magical warranty or customer service rep. Each separate part to your computer will have its own warranty and return information.
 
Do a google search for building a computer. Read a whole bunch of different guides. Re-read them. Try fiddling around with older computer parts, if you can, to get an idea of how everything should go together. A quick search turned up this post at Lifehacker with some essential links and information.
 
That said, I'd still be glad to give more specific help. For example, I'll tell you that that Antec 900 is a great case, however, it lacks many of the amenities that more modern cases offer. The most important thing missing is dust filters. You really, really want a case with some decent, built-in dust filters. It will save you a ton of hassle later on, because you won't have to take your computer apart as frequently to clean out the gobs of dust that will invariably muck things up in there.

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#33  Edited By jmrwacko

What case would you suggest? Newegg doesn't have the greatest product filters in the universe.

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#34  Edited By AndrewB
@jmrwacko said:

" What case would you suggest? Newegg doesn't have the greatest product filters in the universe. "

I'd suggest the Antec 300 (link is for the "illusion" case, with included LED fans) for a small case with good airflow. Now, the only problem with the Antec 300 is that with limited size, comes limited space, and you'd probably have to make sacrifices in positioning your hard drives and figuring out if your graphics card would fit (which I think was discussed earlier in the thread).
 
In that case, if you like the design of the Antec 900, take a step up to the 902. I know it's more expensive, but it also has dust filters and a built-in (basic) fan controller. It also has an all-black interior, and slightly better arrangement of holes in the motherboard tray for dealing with routing cables.
 
My problem is that I really can't recommend a perfect case at a decent price, because I have yet to come across one, myself. Every case seems to have its ups and downs. Example: The Cooler Master Haf 922. Almost every part of it is great, but it also lacks dust filters on the bottom PSU fan and the side panel. Still, if I were to buy a case for myself today, that is probably what I would go with. So if you're looking for my ultimate opinion on what you should get, I'd go with the HAF 922.
 
Edit: just to clarify the qualifier "great" a little more... the reasons why I like the HAF 922:
It's not as tall as a full tower case would be (for those with limited height under their desks).
There is plenty of room for components (the case is long), with good holes for cable routing, and even a spot in the motherboard tray for accessing the backplate for any large CPU cooler.
The tool-less design, specifically for the hard drive cages.
Plenty of airflow provided by large fans.
I like the general design of the case. 

The cons:
As mentioned, no dust filters over certain intakes, like the bottom fan positions, and the slats in the side panel. 
I've heard that it is pretty noisy. Those large fans come with a price.
The price of the case, while reasonable, could be lower.
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jmrwacko

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#35  Edited By jmrwacko

Honestly, I don't really like the design of the Antec 900. I guess I'll go with the Haf 922. There was a pretty good looking case made by "LanCool" with nice airflow and filters, but it's sold out.

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#36  Edited By AndrewB
@jmrwacko: If you read my edit above, I elaborated on what makes the 922 a solid case, in my opinion. At $100 on Newegg, it's an okay deal.
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#37  Edited By jmrwacko

No, it definitely sounds up my ally. I didn't like how with some of the other cases I had to keep around a screwdriver just for cleaning them out. 
 
Okay, thanks everyone for the advice.

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