This is not my main rig, I only use this when I'm at my BF's which is why I only wanted to spend that, I do have a high end rig and a macbook pro..but as we know, rift doesn't run on a mac yet.
This was all bought new, from newegg in a single order, I actually built it for Crysis 2 which I had all settings maxed out completely with no lag ever when I played it with iTunes running and utorrent DL'ing stuff. Also, keep in mind I couldn't use intel or anything truly high end due to my budget.
Water cooling, OC'ed: GPU, CPU, and RAM, moded case (added window), cool efficient. but this isn't needed to get ultra settings on Rift. This isn't a guide either..it's just an example that people QQ'ing can build something affordable and get great results.
1x Corsair Watercooling H80
1x AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
1x Asus (I cant recall the exact one but it's impressive plus I got $80 knocked off with it only being released 2010)
4x 120mm Fans
1x 140mm fan
1x power supply is 850'ish, it is certified bronze..forget the brand, it's modular but kinda sucky
1x Case (this is extremely dependent on you, it rarely helps performance..just go with mid to full tower when building a gaming rig as you need good air flow. It really helps to have good cable management, fans on top for sure and at least one in front and a rear fan, a bottom one isn't that important at all).
1x Graphics card by Radeon. Before you go ew like I did when I had to buy this, the card actually works great even when OC'ed
2x RAM 4GB This is where for a gamer most people go cheap but you do not want to...I'll explain later
2x 1TB HD
The website above will help you a ton on figuring out the best Graphics card and processor for your computer, make sure you do some research and don't by a single thing for a budget machine unless it has great reviews and is on sale.
So you want to learn how to OC your machine, this will allow you to get a lot of the same results higher end machines get without paying the money. Asus is a brand that is going downhill with gamers for several reasons but still possibly the easiest and best to use for a newbie when it comes to overclocking your CPU..it seriously come with a software packet to where you only have to move a bar to how fast you want it to over clock then like magic - it's done...or your computer shuts down randomly then it lowers it some.
Watercooling & Fans
Don't be scared with putting liquid into your machine, it's safe..trust me. The thing with watercooling that's sooo much better than ANY fan to cool down your machine is the effeciency. Corsair is hands down the best for someone looking into a premade kit. The setup is very quick. It sends water from a mini radiator to the CPU and keeps doing this without you ever having to worry about fans. Less fans the better, right? Well, for the rest of the computer - no. You want a good airflow to your gaming rig to keep things cool (electronics in general last longer in cooler temperatures) so you add fans. You need to read on which way the air flow needs to be. More expensive fans offer color such as mine that are all blue, are a lot more quiet, and last longer. A cooling fan is a great option if this is your main computer, it lets you slow down or shut off the fans when you aren't running a game or stressing your pc.
Testing your rig
The absolute best thing to do in my opinion is run benchmarks as soon as you get your computer prior to overclocking. If you're content on not overclocking as it CAN destroy your CPU, GPU, and very rarely but RAM I would suggest running benchmarks anyhow. You should never run just one, run 3 or 4 and let it run for 6-8 hours while you're at work. It will stress your PC to the max, but this is a good thing because in the end it will show you what's doing well and what you may in the future need to upgrade.
There's a certified thing companies have their power supplies go through my a company that is now an industry standard. What it means is that if you get a Bronze for instance, the efficiency of the power is actually going to have to meet a certain standard to get that stamp of Bronze on it. The reason why you don't want a random power supply is because the cheaper type suck up a ton of power and they pretty much don't use the power efficiently. The better you go, the better it should be. Now with how much juice you actually need, I'd say around 750 is average these days. 1,000+ is for a high end rig with two high end GPU's, RAID 5, costumized water cooling, etc so don't put your money there unless you really need it. Your electric bill will literally be cheaper if it's more effecient plus it'll likely last longer. Studies have shown that it's better to invest in these more so than a graphics card that should be replaced 2-3 years.
DirectX is very important when buying your GPU, make sure it is one of the two last released versions and not any older. Windows 7 is very cheap these days, go with that..I will laugh at you for getting Vista! You REALLY should get Game Booster software, they work so well! ok not really, seriously don't buy that crap..that's all it is, crap. To allow Rift to run well, make sure you look at the processes running in the background, stuff even like your printer trying to update software can cause a little lag. Always keep your PC defraged and we all know about viruses so a good anti-viruse software suite is handy.
I was on a business call and said that by accident.. I almost cried with embarasement lol. This is the core to MMO's. Go with fiberoptic internet if you can, if not then cable is the second best. Fiberoptics is a technology used in how it's transmitted which is by light..extremely fast. Wired computers are better and more reliable than wireless... in fact guilds that I've been in have made it near mandatory for good reasons. Access points are great if you must have it wireless, they make gaming access points which is something you use between your wireless router and computer...they usually cost around $80.
A lot of us have spent $3,000 or so on a rig..they're fun to build and great to play with but even half that amount is a lot for some people. When building a $600 rig, the money adds up super fast. I bought mine all at once because I got some insane deals which is very rare for newegg to have them all at once. I'd wait until black friday or better yet, buy one thing at a time. Newegg is very hard to beat on sales, but there is competition such as your local small pc repair shops or even ****ty compusa. Rebates for the bigger companies actually do come mailed back to you - for my experience at least. Never buy computer gear unless its fans w/o a warranty and without looking at reviews. When you see a sale, there's probably a sale to that sale so do even more research!
Gaming is really fun so I hope this helps some poor student. Some people afford their high end rigs by building them, keeping them for a year, then selling them on ebay or craigs list for full profit then use that money for all the latest and greatest things.
PS I didn't proof read this so I apologize for any errors :P