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Good Motherboard

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Yep, cases are such a personal choice, it's hard to recommend a "one-size" fits all solution.  The good thing is that after you figure in the MIRs on the parts I listed above you should have plenty of room left in the budget for a decent case.  If you needed to trim the part cost even further there are some items you could switch out to save some money. 


I figured in a CD/DVD Burner - Bluray player for the optical drive (because I enjoy sitting in front of my PC and watching a good bluray movie every once in a while).  But if your buddy doesn't see himself doing that, you could get a regular CD/DVD burner for around $16 - $17 bucks.


There's also some room for cost savings on the cpu cooler.  You could go with a CM Hyper 212 Evo and save another $10 bucks or so.  Last but not least I figured in 16Gb of memory - but if you need to save some money you could always drop that down to 8Gb.

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