What is the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard?

Updated 05/05/23

The Dream System can’t be built for under $4000 so why not go crazy since it is but a dream.  You get the two fastest enthusiast components, Intel’s Core i9-13900KS and NVIDIA’s RTX 4090, in this case provided by Zotac.  The memory is the same G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-7200 kit reviewed by Sebastian, and it will more than do the job until we see how well the high density DIMMs work out.  We are also waiting on a supply of PCIe 5.0 SSDs, so in the mean time let’s get wild and go with an 8TB Sabrent, buy two if you want!  The FSP PSU is a bit expensive but that is because it has a dedicated VHPWR connection and cable, better to keep that GPU feed and safe.

The High end of the Hardware Leaderboard gets a complete refresh, moving over to Intel’s Raptor Lake i7-13700K paired with GIGABYTE’s Z790 AORUS Elite AX motherboard.  It is still a mite expensive but certainly far more achievable than the Dream system.   With the platform upgrade comes higher frequency DDR5, in this case DDR5-6400 with timings of CL32-39-39-102 @ 1.4V.   The SSD moves over to the SK Hynix P41 which I recently took a look at, and this new generation of PCIe 4.0 drives show marked improvement over the first models.  The overclocked RTX 3080 remains about the best card for this price point as RTX 4080 cards are twice the price at the moment.  You can skip the sound card unless you are desperate, the AMP-UP audio onboard features audiophile WIMA caps.  You will need to power this beast, so 1000W of ATX 3.0 is the recommended PSU for now.

Move over AMD, Intel’s Alder Lake is the new Mid Range king!  The price of DDR5 has come down nicely, but the price of DDR5 boards has not.  The price of the mid-range is comfortably under $1000, you could find a B760 board which would push you up to the $1000 mark, but you will be better served by adding that money to your GPU.  The GIGABYTE B660M DS3H has a great power design, USB 3.2 Type-C and 2.5GbE networking, which makes up for the DDR4, not that a DDR4-4000 CL 16 kit is anything to sneer at!  Sabrent have priced there 1TB Rocket Q4 PCIe 4.0 drive wonderfully, or you could double the cost and double your storage too.  The good news we are starting to see when it comes to GPU pricing means a factory overclocked RTX 3060 is well within budget.  You can skip the sound card, but make sure you grab that PSU.

The Budget System is still a bit over the $500 target, unless you skip the GPU which might be a good idea if prices continue to drop as they have been.  In order to make sure you can game without a GPU, and because the price is very attractive the Ryzen 5 5600G remains, paired with a ASUS TUF GAMING X570-PLUS motherboard which is currently on sale.  With the pricing of the new B660 motherboards and DDR5 it makes sense to grab an X570 with all the features you could want, but at affordable price.  The Corsair DDR4-3600 may not be flashy but it is the preferred frequency and appears on the QVL list for the motherboard.  Western Digital’s Black SN770 is in low supply right now and is replaced by the Crucial P3 SSD.   The GPU has moved on from the ancient past to a more modern card.  The $185 price tag on the MSI Radeon RX 6500 XT is acceptable for this range, though you are still better served skipping it for now if you possibly can.  Once you can afford to spend $300 or more you have a huge increase in choice.

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 2023 $6505.00

This is the Dream System. No compromises, IOO.

Processor — Intel Core i9-13900KS$1006

Intel Core i9-13900KS - 1 Check out our review!

 moar power, best HEDT going right now
 and the MSRP is a joke ... again, moar power

Sigh, that $1000 price tag certainly hurts.  The i9-13900KS contains eight performance cores, and 16 efficiency cores for a total of 32 threads.  The testing from all sites show it surpasses AMD’s current offerings and so should be the choice of gamers for whom price is no barrier.

Motherboard — EVGA Z790 CLASSIFIED$954


 Has everything, including 10Gbps
 you have to pay for the features

This EVGA board gives you two PCIe 5.0 slots, three M.2, Marvel 10 Gb/s and Intel 2.5 Gb/s, two USB4 Type-C ports, and seven more USB 3.2.  There is nothing this board doesn’t have more of than you need but that is what a Dream system is supposed to offer!

Video Card — ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO$2334

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO - 3

 best of the best, ray trace @ 4K
 that price though

The RTX 4090 is available, if you are willing to pay a stiff premium over the already astronomical MSRP.  Then again you are getting a card like unto no other.  It has been a long while since we have seen performance jump of this magnitude in a single generation but NVIDIA pulled it off.  If you want proper 4K gaming with no compromise then this Zotac sports the best factory OC available at the moment.

Memory — G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-7200$296

G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-7200 - 4 Check out our review!

 Great timings for the frequency, PCPer tested
 High density DDR-8000 coming soon

Grab a pair of 32GB DDR5-7200 and you’ll never be short of memory space nor bandwidth again!  There are high density 24GB sticks coming and they may well hit the board’s maximum DDR5-8000, but let’s see how compatible they are first, eh?

Hard Drive — SABRENT 8TB Rocket 4 Plus$1370

SABRENT 8TB Rocket 4 Plus - 5

 R/W 7100/6600MB/s
 Not PCIe 5.0, yet

If you are going to live the dream, you need 8TB of high speed data!  This is a bit of overkill, you could put two 4TB in a RAID for a bit cheaper.  Then again that means you couldn’t decide to put two 8TB drives in one!  This drive won’t last long, PCIe 5.0 SSDs have to hit the market sooner or later.

Sound Card — Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus$160

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus - 6

 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 — FSP Hydro PTM Pro 1200W 80 Plus Platinum$385

FSP Hydro PTM Pro 1200W 80 Plus Platinum - 7

 comes with a 16-pin PCIe 5.0 connector and cable
 It is a bit bigger than you might expect

If you intend to run an i9-13900KS and an RTX 4090 you are going to need some serious power.  This PSU has plenty of that, and impressive efficiency as well.  In addition to a 10 year warranty to reassure you, this ships with a dedicated VHPWR connection and cable.

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High End System $1912.00

High end gaming for around $2000.

Processor — Intel Core i7-13700K$400

Intel Core i7-13700K - 8

 Impressive performance, All the new toys
 You don't get to play with 3d V-cache

Raptor Lake is savaging the competition in most cases, giving you better overall performance at the same price as AMD. There are some case in which the E-cores might slow you down a bit, but most tests show that disabling them has no real effect on performance and can slow down some tasks.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS Elite AX$255


 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 — MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 LHR 12GB$680

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 LHR 12GB - 10

 Torx Fan 4, Boost Clock 1815 MHz
 Not the newest NVIDIA family

There are two versions of this card, the less expensive uses Torx 3 cooling and tops out at 1740 MHz, but it will save you around $70 if that works for you.  RTX 3080’s are getting closer to MSRP but unfortunately the same can’t be said for the 40×0 series. Hopefully we will see one in the high end build soon!

Memory — G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-6400$140

G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5-6400 - 11

 Nice timings
 too many RGBs?

DDR5 prices are doing amazing things, reducing both their timings and their price.  If you want extra bragging rights you could shop around for a kit running at a higher frequency but this DDR5-6400 kit offers a great mix of performance and price.

Hard Drive — SK hynix Platinum P41 2TB$157

SK hynix Platinum P41 2TB - 12 Check out our review!

 7,000MB/s reads, 6,500 MB/s writes
 Not PCIe 5.0 ... yet

This is an impressive drive and is currently my own SSD of choice.  The bandwidth is such that your games won’t even notice when Windows background processes kick off.  The rarity of PCIe 5.0 SSDs right now means you can’t jump to the newest tech immediately, but that motherboard does have four M.2 ports.

Sound Card — Creative Sound Blaster Z SE$100

Creative Sound Blaster Z SE - 13

 Discrete 5.1 and Virtual 7.1, DAC and Headphones Amp
 is it that much better than your onbard?

116 dB SNR at a bit rate of up to 24-bit / 192 kHz, gold plated connectors.  Sound Blaster Command CrystalVoice technology that helps remove echoes and ambient noises.  Bells!  Whistles!

Power Supply — Corsair RM1000e$180

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.

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Mid Range System $870.00

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

Processor — Intel Core i5-12400$194

Intel Core i5-12400 - 15

 great price to performance, newest generation
 Sorry no DDR5 for you yet, no overclocking

This is a tough choice between the 5600X and the i5-12400, coming down to the theoretical support for newer technology from Intel.  The trouble is the price of the motherboard and DDR5 to truly get the most out of your Alder Lake CPU.  Even with DDR4 Intel’s offering often outpaces AMDs at this core count.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE B660M DS3H$86


 feature filled for the price
 no DDR5 at this price

If you can’t have DDR5 there are plenty of other features to enjoy. 2.5GbE LAN and USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C ports are certainly a good start.  The power design Gigabyte chose is very solid and so you should see reliable performance.  You won’t be overclocking this build; drop down a generation or two if you want a Core i5 K processor on the mid range system.

Video Card — ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC$348

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce 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 — Patriot Viper Steel 16GB DDR4-4000MHz CL 16$85

Patriot Viper Steel 16GB DDR4-4000MHz CL 16 - 18

 CL 16, 4000MHz
 merely 16GB

So here’s a choice.  Do you limit yourself to 16GB of DDR4-4000 or do you think you need 32GB?  This will depend on your habits, but for most 16GB is not going to limit them.  If you think you are one that would need the extra space, for an extra $25 the G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 32GB DDR4-3600 CL16-19-19-39 kit is the way to go!

Hard Drive — SABRENT 1TB Rocket Q4$70

SABRENT 1TB Rocket Q4 - 19

 PCIe 4.0 at it's best
 the deal won't last forever

This is a great deal on a fast Sabrent PCIe 4.0 drive with 1TB of capacity.  The same price per GB is charged for the 2BG model, if you have an extra $70 to budget.

Sound Card — Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX$44

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 — Cooler Master MWE 550W$43

Cooler Master MWE 550W - 21

 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 - 22

 Great deal ... for now, Free cooler
 The GPU leaves you wanting

The price on the Intel Core i5-12400 has jumped significantly while the price on the Ryzen 5 5600G has dropped to the level of the i3-12100.  This gives you a built in 7 core built in GPU which will suffice for basic usage, but it will need some help for gaming.  It also ships with the impressive AMD Wraith Stealth cooler.

Motherboard — ASUS TUF GAMING X570-PLUS$130


 Great price, lots of options for upgrades
 It is so last generation

This ASUS motherboard is currently 38% off, making it one of the best deals to house your AMD processor.  The backplate gives you both DisplayPort and HDMI 1.4b out for onboard video.  You will also get gigabit and wireless networking, along with four USB 3.2 Gen 1 and three USB 3.2 Gen 2 of which one is Type-C.

Inside you get two M.2 slots, eight SATA, Realtek ALC S1200A 8 channel HD audio, two full sized PCIe 4.0 16x slots and two more 1X to boot.  This will give you a lot of upgrade options when you are able to.

Video Card — MSI Radeon RX 6500 XT$185

MSI Radeon RX 6500 XT - 24

 Prices are falling
 4GB GDDR6 is a little limiting

This particular RX 5800 XT comes with a Boost clock of up to 2825 MHz, the game clock is rated to hit 2685 MHz and the TORX 3.0 dual fans should help the card maintain those frequencies.   It offers both DisplayPort v1.4a and HDMI2.1 outputs though at this level you should be aiming for 1080p and won’t need their full capabilities.  With the market the way it is, you might want to stick with onboard graphics until you can spend more on a GPU.

Memory — Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600$54

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600 - 25

 on the list

This 2x8GB kit shows up on the compatibility chart for the MSI X570-A PRO.  Nothing fancy but it should boot at the full speed with no headaches.

Hard Drive — Crucial P3 Plus 500GB$55

Crucial P3 Plus 500GB - 26

 Great price for PCIe 4.0
 500 GB can feel cramped

The drive to grab at this time is from Crucial, the P3 Plus offers a decent price for 3500MB/s sequential reads and 3000MB/s writes.  The only catch is the lack of cache, but that isn’t going to have much of an impact on you daily usage.

Sound Card — Onboard Audio$0

Onboard Audio - 27

 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 — EVGA 500 W3, 80+$50

EVGA 500 W3, 80+ - 28

 500W on a budget, 3 year warranty

There is a great sale on this 500W EVGA PSU right now.  It does provides a bit more power than you technically need, but as they tend to live long lives that extra juice may come in handy after an upgrade.