I built this PC with 2 highschool students with the goal of running CAD/CAM software for a CNC router. You don't get the glamour shots like most of my builds that I needed to sell, but I figured I'd still share my thoughts. Overall price was somewhere around $400 for the tower.
This is my 14th build that I'm posting to builds.gg and the first that uses an Intel CPU. The last time I built Intel was in 2015 with a Skylake i5-6600k (4c/4t). At the time, the best mainstream CPU 4c/8t was a $340 i7-6700k. Now, 5 years later, we can get i7-6700k performance for $100 in the form of the i3-10100. This should be a great value for a PC that will never run a game.
The Ryzen 3 3400G (3100 and 3300x don't have any on-board graphics) is the comparable AMD product and should easily win in gaming performance. But I think Comet Lake should have the slight advantage in CPU performance on stock cooling that I'm looking for here. Oh, and the 3400G is $50 more than the 10100. Hard to comprehend, but Intel has become the budget option.
Being a shop/basement PC rather than a gaming PC changed the requirements in some unexpected ways.:
Air filtration is important. Sawdust and metal shavings aren't friendly to any PC. For this build, I wish the case didn't have dual 120mm fans on top so dust won't fall into the case. It seems weird to want fewer airflow options, but it's really not necessary for such a low-power build. We added some cheap low power fans to the top to try and keep out any debris. The front filter of the Versa H15 will hopefully do well enough to keep out sawdust and the like.
Transparent side panels are strictly worse than metal. Acrylic would get scratched and TG could shatter.
From reading some forums, a GPU isn't important for CAD/CAM work except in certain scenarios where you might need a Quadro or other professional GPU. For now we just went with the Intel integrated graphics and can easily upgrade if we find out we need something.
I don't normally think about peripherals for a build, but I went with a low-end Logitech gaming mouse. Trying to spin a CAD model with a stock Dell office mouse with lint caked on the skates is no fun. We don't need a perfect sensor, but something decent will go a long way.