Re: Starting Point
The 3850 and 9600GT are coming down in price, and both are awesome cards. Either one may be more card than you really need, though... but neither are Easy-Bake ovens, either. The 8600 is a space heater.
Go with a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM, period. DDR2 has gotten stupid cheap, so that won't be a problem.
Be sure you go with a quality power supply, if nothing else. Check through the appropriate guide for the brands to look for.
The case is entirely up to your own tastes and desires (and budget). A mid-tower is a good size, a little big, but it will allow your parts to get the air they need to run cooler.
My Rig: SABLE
Antec 300 Illusion / Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W / EVGA GTX 760 2GB
AMD FX 8320 x8 Black Edition / Gelid Tranquillo / MSI 970A-G43
Sandisk Ultra Plus 128GB / Samsung 840 120GB / WD Black 750GB / WD Green 1TB / WD Red 3TB
G.SKILL Ripjaws 2x2GB DDR3 1600 - Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2x2GB DDR3 1600
Win7 Ult 64-bit - Func MS3 Mouse - CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Mech Keyboard
R.I.P. Danny L. Trotter
... 14 Nov 1945 - 4 Sept 2009