I'm just a kid that tries to cover PC building and gaming the best he can despite running on a beyond-destitute gaming laptop from years past (2007- seven years!) and also talks about assorted Japanese fuckery like No More Heroes and Kingdom Hearts.
I'm also a freelance writer, have made quite a bit of money off of it ($1500 a year for a then-16 year old? Fuckin' sweet!) and I make a lot of jokes (too much) about penises and whatnot.
Keep your expectations low and you'll have a great time. Keep your expectations around the middle and you'll have a good time, but don't have high expectations around me because I am literally incapable of not disappointing you.
In light of Destructoid's relatively poor PC building coverage, I decided that I'm going to make a monthly column here in the Community Blogs featuring the best builds at certain prices you can get at the time of writing. My cheaper builds will primarily use AMD processors, but note that those builds won't be very high in upgradeability.
This build should be able to effectively tackle current-gen games with little issues. Tone down things like filtering and antialiasing and you should be able to 1080p60fps games no problem- except for the really hard hitters, like Crysis 3 or the upcoming next-gen titles. You'll likely need to tone down the resolution to 720p to keep those playing smoothly.
You can take out the graphics card if this is too expensive for you right now. The motherboard has integrated graphics that aren't very good for most titles- but you'll run day-to-day applications and games like TF2 just fine. However, be sure to upgrade your graphics card in the future.
With this, you can have more room to step up the resolution and filtering. Expect a pretty safe 1080p60fps with modern and upcoming games for the next few years- though, with certain titles, you may need to lower the settings or your resolution to maintain smoother gameplay or sharper looks.
The case and most of the components have stayed the same for these so far- that'll change after his next build, once AMD's architecture and this case w/ integrated PSU takes us about as far as it can go.
Now these are just about perfect. You'll be running games on Very High, 1080p60fps with impunity for some time. (Minus, yet again, monsters like Crysis, which you'll want to turn things down for.)
Alright. Now we're changing the motherboard to Intel with a top-line i5, and therefore we're also swapping to a new case and a nice PSU. It's a huge price jump from here, but the performance is most definitely worth it.
At the time of writing, the 280X slaughters the 770 at $100 cheaper, and the 290X similarly steps up the game against the 780. I'll put in more Nvidia high-end once they start competing at this range.
I'm not going to make any more builds past this. This is a perfectly solid gaming rig that could last you a good, long while, at max settings, for under a thousand dollars.
If you want, you can pop in an SSD and use it as a boot drive while storing your games and other stuff on the HDD. Or replace it with a higher-end graphics card, like the 780 (which should get a price drop), the 780 Ti (whenever that comes out) or the 290X (when it's in stock).
Footnote: pick up a cheap optical drive if you don't want to install your OS from USB, and take note that these parts don't include KB/M peripherals or a monitor. I'm leaving those up to you.