Ideally, I'm looking for the best bang for the buck cost wise. That may well end up on the higher end of the scale. I'm not overly price sensitive and don't mind springing more for decidedly better.
Can I go Micro-ATX with a 80% vid card? If I can find something small, nice with some kick then thats my favored shot. Am I just better off with a Sonata III case with a big passive heat sink on the CPU and GPU?
I have never had a Micro-ATX case before but have they come of age?
I don't care about blazing speed or blingy lights.
Sorry for the delayed response. I would set a price limit, and then go from there. Just about any system with a $1000 budget would be amazing given the present prices. You can go mATX, you can definitely get a decent video card to boot. If you game a lot, the video card is more important than the CPU.
Micro ATX cases are aplenty nowadays, Silverstone has some designs that offer full size components to be installed. Even my Antec NSK1300 by default allowed room for full size components, though rather cramped.
I have a quad-core intel Q9400 and an HD3870 video card in my mATX case, only two fans, and I power it with a 200W power brick(well, it sorta works, the wiring is messed up). I could even go with a more powerful video card, and still have the watt and cooling power to comfortably drive the system.
So, do you want us to suggest parts to you?