hi all - i just wanted to say thanks to everyone who took their time to help me answer all my questions. my pc went together flawlessly. i didn't run into a single problem - i'm truly amazed. if anyone is curious, here's my final config: mb: asus p4b533-e cpu: intel p4 2.53 mem: 512 ddr266/pc2100 hd: western digital 80g (8mb buffer) dvd: generic sony cd-rw: yamaha 3200ez audio: soundblaster live audigy video: msi ti-4400 (128mb) cables: those cool rounded ones (plus some flex tubing/zip ties to clean up the interior) case: antec 1080 performance plus total cost came in about 1400. i think that was a little more then i wanted to spend, but i bought most of my stuff retail. fry's is very happy with me. it took me most of the weekend to put it together, but i really took my time and was very careful to read the manuals (especially the excellent asus mb manual) as thoroughly as i could just to make sure i didn't goof on anything. i think initial preparation really helped - plus i asked a lot of questions here and also did some pretty extensive web research. i spent most of the day uploading all the stuff from my old pc. i installed some gaming software that came with some of the components...i was *very* happy with the performance. the game analyzed my system and said i could run max settings with no problem. and as far as opening something like microsoft word, it's almost instantaneous. it's literally night and day from my old 200mmx machine. anyway, thanks again to everyone who replied to all my other postings. i really appreciated it. i'm ready to start gaming recommendations, but that's another thread!