Athlon X4 860k + R9 380 first build
I think this is the build I'm finally going for. I was going to go for the i3 6100 at first but it ended up being a bit more than I wanted to spend. What do you guys think? Anyone who uses the X4 860K that can tell me a little more about it? Do you guys think there's a big leap between it and the i3? The X4 is really quite cheap.

For performance to price you really can't beat the X4 860K. It is a little dated, but it is also $73. I think it would work pretty great with an R9 380 for a build coming in under $550.

The FX 6300 would be my third choice

With the FX 6300 you would get more performance on a CPU basis, but you'd also be paying an extra $80 between the CPU and motherboard. That would be entirely up to you. In games you probably wouldn't notice a huge difference between any of your three choices whatsoever.

In games that like single threaded performance the i3 6100 will jump ahead quite a bit compared to the 860k. So basically MMO, MOBAS and Source Engine games will benefit the cpu power. As for games that are gpu bound just go what you like. As if you were going for the FX 6300 you will need a decent motherboard that will cost about 80 bucks to get the performance out of it. If you get a cheap motherboard with a FX6300 expect your core clocks to drop under load.

For a few bucks more....

PCPartPicker part list:
Price breakdown by merchant:

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($174.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($45.75 @ OutletPC)
Memory: Crucial 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($29.89 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 380 4GB PCS+ Video Card ($188.89 @ OutletPC)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1100 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($43.57 @ Mac Mall)
Total: $562.97
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-02-25 11:22 EST-0500

This is a solid build in the OP. I would only change the ram as I've found 8gb to be sorely lacking in certain situations. It caused crashes in some games such as Witcher 3 and Ark.

I did the same build a couple weeks back for a friend.

It's a great little system, the main game he wanted to play was Ark and it runs it about as good as Ark can run these days. We kept him at med-high settings, 900p just so he would still be able to have high viewing distance without taxing the system to much. When you cranked down the view distance it had no probably running at 1080p with the same settings.

Are there any specific games you were looking to play?

I'll play mostly FPS games and open world games. I'm really looking forward to playing No Man's Sky when it comes out.

Is this true?

I hear ya, that game looks amazing! I think for the most part you'll be good to do just about any gaming you want on this system.

Like 1920.1080p.1280.720p said, bumping up to 16gb of ram could be beneficial in some cases, especially if you want to get into some modding.

Ark seems to run fine off 8gb, it helps if you set the launch option in steam to "-lowmemory". The Witcher 3 however, may require more(I don't have a lot of experience with the game yet) but if you like I can test it out over the weekend on his system to see how it does.

I'd appreciate that, though I think I might as well go for the extra RAM since I'm saving so much on the CPU.

Ark has always had trouble on my pc for some reason. It runs terribly and literally wouldn't open if I didn't launch it in low ram mode (or whatever it is called). Meanwhile, a friend of mine with a nearly identical pc didn't have these problems. Once I upgraded to 16gb of ram though, the crashes were gone. Wither 3 was less dramatic. IT would only crash if there was another program running at the same time. Firefox was the usual suspect. After upgrading to 16gb though, I could leave whatever I wanted open while playing Witcher 3. You may not run into these problems, but I did, so I always advise going with more ram when possible.

Yeah it's not a whole lot more bumping it up to 16gb so I would say go for it!

For the budget I think it's good, and I don't think it makes sense to go any higher on RAM in terms of overall balance.

Is the 380 a 2 or 4 gb version? If you want to upgrade using a staggered approach, so not upgrading everything at once, I would recommend 4 gb so your GPU will last long enough for you to upgrade your motherboard and CPU first.

Two things that games are using a lot more of than they used to is CPU power and vram

Edit: just saw its 4 gb, good to go

I have the early version of that board with my 7850k and 2133 evga ram. I also have an FX build. Both are great. FM2+ you get PCIE 3 support. Only thing on my board was the chipset heatsink did get warm/hot. No prob but if you got a extra fan you know where it should blow:)

I would splurge for an SSD... cause yano.... it's 2016.... they are dirt cheap... and the are by far the biggest bottleneck in any system with HDDs

Not in-game.

Actually depends... If you're running a lot of mods or lots of insane textures (like 4k or higher tsxtures) an SSD is a must for gaming in order to maintain a good frame rate (software can't measure it but it's visible) with that said if you don't mod or the game you're playing doesn't have crazy textures, there won't be any ingame affect.

Also a select few games such as Assassins Creed Unity have been observed to have a slight performance increase from an SSD. Though having high VRAM available might negate that.