You hardly finish your build when you start thinking - Hmmm, could I have done a bit better for a bit more? And so I've done some upgrades - some things of better value than others. This is my list - strictly personal - you may not agree and as always YMMV.
What I haven't upgraded:
- Motherboard and CPU - the motherboard is a Gigabyte - it had a top shelf AMD chipset, lots of SATA 3 and USB 3 capability and it's an Ultra Durable board. The CPU is a quad core A8 and up until the Zen release AMD hadn't really made anything significantly better.
- Case - Cooler Master K280 - I love it. Just the right size and easy to build in.
- Wifi adapter - what can I say, it's an Atheros N chipset and it works.
- DVD burner - no point really. Hardly use it any more with USB sticks.
- Initial HDD - it's still trucking along - a Toshiba 1 TB.
- Audio - I have an old Logitech 2:1 system that I've had for years and it's a keeper.
- The RAM - I had an 8 GB stick and went to 16. I still have room for 16 more in the case. I got dual channel with two sticks of RAM and for sure I will never need swap - but even with VirtualBox I rarely use more than 2.5 GB at any time. Right now I'm at "only" 1.5 GB.
- The video card - I went from the built in APU to a discrete AMD card - this freed up some memory that I didn't really need to free up, and it is a quicker system now to respond - but I had many problems with video compatibility that just recently got sorted out in Linux.
- Case fans - I added a Corsair fan and replaced the stock fan with a BitFenix I got on sale. The case is super cool but I think it would have been OK without the higher quality fans. I did not upgrade the CPU cooler and I think the extra case cooling has helped a bit there.
- SSD - these are getting cheaper all the time and putting in a 128 GB SSD for Linux and leaving the data on my HDD made a tremendous improvement - a new desktop really. Mine is a Toshiba I got on sale at Newegg and I would really recommend it.
- A high quality 1080p monitor - I had an old TN monitor that was low contrast and hard to read unless you were right in front of the screen. The new BenQ VA monitor I got with my Christmas cash has been one of my favorite upgrades ever. It's easy on the eyes and has great contrast - black is now black.
So to recap my favorite upgrades - the ones that made a real difference - were the SSD and the monitor. I doubt I'll ever build a new system without an SSD, and the monitor I enjoy every time I switch this unit on.