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Old September 23, 2012, 08:35 PM
frontier204 frontier204 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Ottawa, ON
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My System Specs

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I was about to suggest an Intel build but was ninja'd (in the good way) by MARSTG showing the rather low prices on AMDs right now.
Depending on what you'll be modeling / designing / drawing with those school apps, you'll definitely want to go with 8GB RAM at least. I have yet to see a review that says DDR3-1866 has a noticeable impact on anything other than integrated graphics (which you won't be using).

To solidify some of the suggestions already posted, here's a starting point:
RAM G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Memory
PSU Antec HCG-520M 520W ATX12V Modular SINGLE-RAIL 40A 80PLUS Bronze 135mm Fan Active PFC Power Supply
CASE Cooler Master HAF 912 Black Mid Tower ATX Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 6X3.5INT No PS Front USB Sound
HDD Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA3 6GB/S 7200RPM 64MB Cache 3.5IN Dual Proc Hard Drive OEM - maybe a cheaper HDD + 60GB SSD may work as well
ODD Samsung SH-222BB 22X DVD Writer SATA Black OEM
GPU Powercolor Radeon HD 7850 860MHZ 2GB 4.8GBPS GDDR5 DVI HDMI 2XMINIDP PCI-E Video Card
Subtotal w/o CPU/MOBO: $466.93

For the GPU, I play GW2 on a GTX 550Ti (overclocked within 15 MHz of going unstable) and it's plenty playable at 1920x1080, with lowered settings. The 7850 should get you to ALMOST max (probably native textures and no AA).

For CPU/Mobo because you're using some stuff that can use CPU, you're stuck with AM3/AM3+ or Intel 1155. The AMD FM1 APU will be wasted because of your use of dedicated GPU, and its lack of cache will really hurt in gaming. I really can't recommend a dual core (even the new Ivy Bridge i3) as those 3D / image processing apps you plan to use will cripple a dual core unless maybe if they're significantly GPU-accelerated. Also more CPU allows you to crunch through battles in MMORPG a little better.

AMD: $249.61
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Quad Core 3.2GHZ AM3 OEM Processor - an Phenom II x6 Black Edition would be suitable if you can find one
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Direct Touch 4 Heatpipe Heatsink AM2 AM3 LGA1366 LGA1155 LGA1156 120mm
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 AMD970 ATX AM3+ DDR3 2PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 2PCI SATA3 USB3.0 CrossFireX Motherboard

Intel: $254.98
CPU (boxed cooler): Intel Core i5 2320 Quad Core Processor 3.0GHZ LGA1155 6MB Cache 95W Retail Box
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-H77-DS3H ATX LGA1155 H77 DDR3 2PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 HDMI CrossFireX SATA3 USB3.0 Motherboard

With the AMD platform, you MUST overclock it to get anywhere near the Intel, although you do have the upgrade path to the new CPUs. With the Intel platform I suggested, you CANNOT overclock it (hence the lack of cooling) and the upgrade path is uncertain, but it will get you better performance than the AMD unless you go absolutely nuts with the cooling. (Personally I'd go Intel just for the massive out-of-the-box performance advantage compared to AMD.)
EDIT: On the Intel, you can go with a cheaper motherboard (all the way down to the $50ish H61s if you want), but with AMD you can't because cheaper motherboards won't have the voltage regulation (aka VRM) for an overclock.
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