What is the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard?

Updated  02/26/24

The Dream System pricing is a bit less of a nightmare thanks to the drop in price of some of the components, excepting the craziness happening in the GPU market after NVIDIA made it SUPER.  The Core i9-14900KF is the current king, and might even remain after the launch of the i9-14900KS depending on the thermals of that chip; an extra 200MHz might not be worth it.  The GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Xtreme is aptly named as it features every possible feature a Z790 board can offer.  You could opt for a less feature filled board if you don’t have the need for quite this level of excess.  The less said about what the market is currently doing to NVIDIA’s RTX series the better.  As cards return closer to MSRP expect to see more updates on this component but for now a watercooled RTX 4090 will give you all the frames your monitor can handle.  The memory is now at DDR5-8200, with high density 24GB DIMMs, with some of the best timings on the market as well.  The Dream system finally has a PCIe 5.0 SSD, but remember only one M.2 port can handle it, the rest are PCIe 4.0  If you need a sound card, SoundBlaster released a new version of a fan favourite, and don’t forget to round the system off with a 1200W ATX 3.0 PSU with 12VHPWR such as the new FSP PSU listed in this build.

The High end of the Hardware Leaderboard offers a tough choice; go with the better chip overall or the less expensive offering from AMD that does game slightly better.   Considering the light load on your CPU while running an RTX 4070 Ti SUPER, and the fact that Intel’s Raptor Lake gives you support for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 it makes sense to go with Intel.   GIGABYTE’s Z790 AORUS Elite AX motherboard has stuck around for a while, it offers what you need while remaining at a decent price.  It is compatible with the DDR5-7200 chosen for it’s wonderful pricing and has numerous M.2 ports.  The single fifth generation port is stuffed with the Samsung 990 EVO which is stuck at two PCIe lanes.  If you can afford to add another ~$100 to the build then go with one of the alternatives suggested, though you won’t notice a huge difference in performance when loading your games.   The BlasterX AE-5 Plus used to be in the Dream system, so if you do need a sound card you won’t be disappointed.  The system will be happily fed by a kilowatt class PSU, and there seems no compelling reason to switch from the Corsair RM1000e that has been serving the High End build for a while now.

The Midrange system is back to AMD thanks to a very good deal on the Ryzen 5 7600X which helps keep the system at $1000.  That choice also allows the feature rich ASRock B550M PRO4 to be chosen, along with a kit of DDR4-3600 which is rated as compatible with the board.  One of the available M.2 ports is populated by the 2TB WD_Black SN770 with the option of expanding as your budget will allow.  The RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC from Zotac is a compromise between power and price.  With most GPUs rising above MSRP it is hard to fit a current generation card into the build.  The sound card is cheap and optional, while that 500W Thermaltake PSU certainly is not!

The Budget System is still over the $500 and it is doubtful it will ever get back there.  Most of the components are rather old, as the next generation equivalents are $70 to $100 more.  You could skip the GPU for the moment, in the hopes that something will drop in price or you find a way to afford more than $200 for a GPU.  If your heart is set on one however, why not give Intel’s Arc 750 a chance?  It beats the competition at this price point, as long as you make sure to enable BAR!  The rest of the components remain unchanged except for swapping in the same Thermaltake PSU as the Midrange system.

Once you have all your components you can always reference Ryan’s videos covering the installation of the parts into the case as well as installing your OS and Steam so you can get right to gaming and surfing.  For those of you looking at a Vive or Oculus, the systems mostly match those covered in Ryan’s VR builds; check out your expected experience in his three guides.

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Dream System 2024 $4776.00

This is the Dream System. No compromises, IOO.

Processor — Intel Core i9-14900KF$540

Intel Core i9-14900KF - 1

 PCIe 5.0, 6GHz
 Toasty, very toasty

If you are building the best of the best, you don’t need an onboard GPU taking up space and saving a bit on the price tag isn’t so bad either.  We are expecting a 14900KS in March which might be more interesting depending on the thermals, but for now a 6GHz Max Turbo frequency will keep you above the competition.  These 8 E-cores and 16 P-cores will keep up with any of your other components.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Xtreme$800

GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Xtreme - 2

 Every connection you could need and more, 20+1+2 power phases
 Might be more than you need

This is not the most affordable of Z790 boards but it is one of the most impressive.  From DDR5-8266 support through the five M.2 ports through the fact it offers WiFi 7, 2.5GbE and 10GbE connectivity, there is not much this board can’t do.  The pair of Thunderbolt 4 connectors will handle your new peripherals and the 10 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A will ensure you have enough ports for everything else.  You can even see real time sensor data on the heatspreader.

Video Card — MSI RTX 4090 SUPRIM Liquid X 24G$2180

MSI RTX 4090 SUPRIM Liquid X 24G - 3

 Watercooled, There's fast and then there's FAST
 Make sure your case can accomodate the radiator, What's MSRP?

The new RTX SUPER cards are vastly over MSRP at the moment, and that has not helped the price of the RTX 4090.  It is the best of the best and this MSI card comes with it’s own integrated watercooling.  The card comes with a Boost clock of 2640 MHz and 24GB of GDDR6X at 21 Gbps.  Also handy is the fact that it is only two slots tall, so it doesn’t impinge on other components like some of the air cooler versions can.

Memory — 48GB TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta RGB DDR5-8200MHz$366

48GB TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta RGB DDR5-8200MHz - 4

 Highest frequency available
 Doesn't actually have that much impact on gaming

Say hello to our new 24GB DIMM friends, as high density RAM hits the market.  Not only do you get a large pool of RAM, it’s running at 8200MHz with timings of 38-49-49-84.  Perhaps you don’t need RAM with such a high frequency, but you want it, don’t you?

Hard Drive — Crucial T700 4TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD$500

Crucial T700 4TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD - 5

 Amazing bandwidth, even for a PCIe 5.0 drive
 The height?

Say hello to up to 12,400 MB/s transfer speeds with this impressive 4TB Crucial SSD.  It comes with a large heatsink that allows it to be passively cooled, so you won’t have to listen to the tortured screams of a tiny fan.  If you are worried about space, grab your favourite PCIe 4.0 SSD and stick it in as the motherboard has plenty of room!

Sound Card — Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus Pure Edition$140

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus Pure Edition - 6

 Dolby Digital Live and DTS, 5.1 discrete and 7.1 virtual surround
 Your onboard audio is a ESS ES9280AC DAC chip with two ESS ES9080 chips already

Do you crave 32-bit/384 kHz playback with a 122 dB DNR from a SABRE32 ultra-class PCI-e DAC? Perhaps a discrete headphone amp that utilizes bi-amplification technology to power each earcup individually would turn your head? Then grab a discrete sound card to satiate your desires.

Power Supply — FSP Hydro PTM X PRO 1200W 80 Plus Platinum$250

FSP Hydro PTM X PRO 1200W 80 Plus Platinum - 7

 12VHPWR, 80 PLUS Platinim
 Might want a custom 12VHPWR cable just in case

There is a decent sale on this PSU, which is the capacity you will need to run the above components.  Please take great care with the 12VHPWR cable, a little stress on it will cause you a lot of stress later on.

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High End System $1982.00

High end gaming for around $2000.

Processor — Core i7-14700F$370

Core i7-14700F - 8

 Capable under any workload, Gen 5 all around
 Not quite as good a gamer as AMD's

This is a tough call, Intel’s Core i7-14700F is a better overall chip for a general purpose computer and it’s performance in games is almost equivalent to the Ryzen 7 5800X3D which makes it a sound alternative.  The current sale on the AMD part also helps make it a compelling choice.  However if you want to delve into PCIe 5.0 and DDR5, which at this point a high end system should include, then Intel is the way to go at the moment.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX$229


 Four M.2, Five by five
 No Thunderbolt 4 at this price

The price of Z790 boards ranges from the acceptable to the ridiculous, with this board definitely in the former.  You don’t sacrifice too much, you still get four M.2, twin 16+1+2 Phases Digital VRM, PCIe 5.0 and both 2.5GbE LAN and Intel WiFi 6E 802.11ax.

Video Card — ZOTAC RTX 4070 Ti Super AMP Holo$830

ZOTAC RTX 4070 Ti Super AMP Holo - 10 Check out our review!

 Almost the performance of a 4080 FE
 1440p or you are leaving performance on the table, Why can't we have nice things?

This should be an RTX 4080 of some description, unfortunately the pricing on those cards has lost all touch with reality.  Even this RTX 4070 Ti Super is nowhere near MSRP.  It is about the closest you can get to an RTX 4080 without blowing over half your budget on the GPU.  If you can fit it into your budget or are willing to wait until you can find a sale that makes the price more realistic, you are going to be much happier.  Needs do as needs must.

Memory — 32GB G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-7200$133

32GB G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-7200 - 11

 Great deal at the moment
 Is 32GB enough anymore?

This is a really great deal on some high frequency DDR5 with timings of CL34-45-45-115 at 1.40V.  It is Intel XMP 3.0 certified so you can just plug and play or you can tweak them to the best performance your system can manage.  You could drop the frequency and go for a larger memory pool but that will come at a cost.

Hard Drive — SAMSUNG 990 EVO SSD$170


 Great price for PCIe 5.0, You won't really notice it's among the slowest of PCIe 5.0 M.2 drives
 There are drives twice as fast

This drive is not the fastest of the PCIe 5.0 drives on the market, and if it wasn’t for the current sale price then Crucial or Corsair‘s offerings would be here instead.  That is not to say this is slow storage, it most certainly is not.  It is fast enough to load your games before you notice and as we are all on budgets sacrifices do need to happen.   Choosing this drive is a good choice as you will notice little difference in your day to day when using the Samsung drive as opposed to one of the others.

Sound Card — Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus$90

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus - 13

 Dolby Digital and DTS, 32-bit/384 kHz
 Do you need one?

Do you crave 32-bit/384 kHz playback with a 122 dB DNR from a SABRE32 ultra-class PCI-e DAC?  Perhaps a discrete headphone amp that utilizes bi-amplification technology to power each earcup individually would turn your head?  Then grab a discrete sound card to satiate your desires.

Power Supply — Corsair RM1000e$160

Corsair RM1000e - 14

 PCIe 5.0, ATX 3.0
 ATX power connectors are modular as well

The new generation of PSUs have arrived and thanks to ready availability the prices have come in line as well.   This Corsair PSU gives you 105°C rated capacitors, 80 Plus Gold efficiency but it does lack a dedicated VHPWR connection.  Considering how rare they are are the moment, that is not much of a strike against an otherwise stellar PSU.

Hardware Leaderboard - 32

Mid Range System $1006.00

You can clearly play from middle … though $1000 is the ‘new’ mid-range.

Processor — AMD Ryzen 5 7600X$222

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X - 15

 Good price for what you get, Are you really going to load enough cores to notice a difference?
 It feels like settling for last years fashion

The Midrange is a battle of performance per dollar, trying to balance an affordable build with something that will do what you need for at least a couple of year.   The 7600X is a better gaming chip than the i5-14400K and is $100 less to buy than the next step up.  Considering this also lets you save money by sticking with DDR4, on a relatively inexpensive but capable motherboard it makes sense to bring AMD back to this particular build.

Motherboard — ASRock B550M PRO4$103

ASRock B550M PRO4 - 16

 Two M.2 slots, one PCIe 4.0, so many USB 3.2 including a Type-C
 Getting long in the tooth

The B550 chipset gives you all the benefits of AMD’s new processors without costing you hundreds of dollars.  ASRock’s B550M PRO4 takes the prize at the moment because it offers everything that the competition does as well as a third M.2 slot to add WiFi.  ASRock have come a long way over the years but have stuck to their original goal of creating solid products with lots of features at a great price.

Video Card — ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC$348

ZOTAC RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC - 17

 12GB RAM, decent OC
 almost but not quite MSRP

It’s hard to beat the deal on this particular RTX 3060, with a Boost clock of 1807 MHz and 12GB of RAM that will outperform the RX 6600 XT.  DisplayPort 1.4a and HDMI 2.1 are great to have now, which you will have once you pick up this card.  The IceStorm 2.0 cooling is a nice touch too!

Memory — TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARGB 3600MHz$85

TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARGB 3600MHz - 18

 DDR4-3600 is still the way to go with Ryzen, On the QVL list for this motherboard
 CL18 is good, but not amazing

You could look for a kit with slightly tighter timings however this particular kit is on the QVL, well the single DIMM kit is but there is no reason two of these won’t work perfectly on the ASRock board.  They use Samsung B-dies and so should have a fairly long and productive life.

Hard Drive — WD_BLACK 2TB SN770$135

WD_BLACK 2TB SN770 - 19

 2TB on a budget, Seriously fast storage

Up to 5,150 MB/s of PCI3 4.0 storage, and thanks to decent pricing you can get 2TB.  The extra storage is important, as if you can keep the drive half full or less you will see better performance than if it is almost completely full.

Sound Card — Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX$30

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX - 20


If for some reason you find you do need a discrete audio solution instead of the onboard Realtek ALC892 7.1, Sound Blaster offers a decent deal. This particular card sports a 600 ohm headphone amp in addition to 5.1 surround speaker support.

Power Supply — Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White$40

Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White - 21

 good price, 5 year warranty

500W will handle the components in this system easily.  This particular PSU offers quiet cooling and while it isn’t as efficient as some at this wattage it is far less important as your power bill won’t show much difference.

Power Supply — Cooler Master MWE 550W$43

Cooler Master MWE 550W - 22

 5 year warranty, flat cables, Single +12V Rail

If you are looking for a mix of quality and value then this Cooler Master power supply is something you should grab.  There’s not much else to say other than it will provide your system with reliable power and not create much noise while doing so.

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Low End System $611.00

Plenty of fun still to be had on the low side.

Processor — AMD Ryzen 5 5600G$137

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G - 23

 Great deal, Free cooler
 The GPU leaves you wanting, Getting long in the tooth

The price on the Intel Core i5-14400 is too high for the Budget build and doesn’t offer much extra. The Ryzen 5 8500G is an option, but it adds $70 to this system alone and it means shifting to DDR5 which will increase the cost above the $500 target. The Ryzen 5 8600G exists, but good luck finding it and again it would raise the price even more.

Motherboard — ASRock B550M Steel Legend$124

ASRock B550M Steel Legend - 24

 Everything you need for a budget build, and 2.5GbE!
 Four years on and B550 still on the HWLB

There are a number of B550 and X570 boards at this price range and generally they all offer the same mix of M.2 and PCIe capabilities.  The B550M Steel Legend does have one thing that stands out, which is 2.5GbE wired connectivity.  That is enough to make it the recommended board if you are on a budget.

Video Card — ACER Predator BiFrost Arc A750$210

ACER Predator BiFrost Arc A750 - 25 Check out our review!

 It's better than you might think
 AMD and NVIDIA fans might make fun of you

Shopping for a $200 GPU is somewhat depressing so why not make it at least interesting by trying out Intel’s Arc?  In general it beats the RX 6600 which is the other alternative at this price point, and with their regular driver updates the gap continues to grow.

Memory — Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600$41

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600 - 26

 on the list

This 2x8GB kit shows up on the compatibility chart for the B550M Steel Legend.  Nothing fancy but it should boot at the full speed with no headaches.

Hard Drive — Sabrent 500GB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0$59

Sabrent 500GB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0 - 27

 PCIe 4.0 baby!, Sabrent drives are pretty
 PCIe 4.0 does cost more, Only half a TB

If you need more storage, dropping back to PCIe 3.0 should let you double the capacity without increasing the price or for an extra $25 you can get 1TB of PCIe 4.0 speeds.  This is not a bad call, as the more empty space on your drive, the faster it will go.

Sound Card — Onboard Audio$0

Onboard Audio - 28

 Out of the box available!
 Can be noisy.

7.1 surround brought to you by Realtec, dunno which one but it is HD.

Power Supply — Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White$40

Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White - 29

 good price, 5 year warranty

500W will handle the components in the Low end as well as the Mid range system.  This particular PSU offers quiet cooling and while it isn’t as efficient as some at this wattage it is far less important as your power bill won’t show much difference.