What is the PC Perspective HW Leaderboard?

Updated May 1th, 2021:

Welcome to the continuation of the “You shouldn’t buy it even if you find it on eBay!” edition of the Hardware Leaderboard.  If you can even find higher end parts you will often be paying twice the MSRP to pick them up.  It is not a good time to shop but if you have to, here is an incredibly depressing update featuring ancient hardware that shouldn’t be here in place of things you can’t buy for love nor money, or modern parts that cost 50-100% more than they should.

Stay tuned as we update the HWLB, taking occasional crying breaks to mourn better times.

If you utterly lack a GPU an argument can be made for Intel’s 11th gen Core i9-11900K and it’s Xe graphics, but for pure processing power Ryzen is the way to go.  Unfortunately, anything more powerful than a Ryzen 7 5800X will cost several hundred dollars above MSRP and we just can’t encourage supporting scalpers.  The GPU situation is worse than it was a few months ago, the prices are obnoxious if you can even find one.  The memory and storage is still a reasonable price; that is expected to change so you might want to consider picking them up so you will be ready to go when the other components start to appear.  As Josh recently grabbed the Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus and loved it, why not try one for yourself in your Dream System.

The Ryzen 7 5800X is currently available, if you are willing to pay almost $200 more than the MSRP.  The Aorus X570 Elite is thankfully available for a decent price, if you were thinking of stocking up on parts so you are ready when prices become a bit more sane.  We would love to recommend an RTX 3070 or RX 5800 as a GPU, but you can’t have one right now.  Buying a 2070 Super at this price is insane, so do whatever you can to keep that current GPU running and that isn’t the only component with pricing issues.  16GB DDR4 -3600 DIMMs are also priced beyond what they should be, however four 8GB DDR4-3600 DIMMs are not.

ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming offers a perfect compromise between price and features, just like your CPU.  The RTX 2080 is now in stock and occasionally on sale, so it displaces the long lasting GTX 1080.  Corsair’s LPX 32GB 3200MHz sacrifice a bit of speed in favour of size, which should pay off in the long run.   Western Digital’s new 500GB PCIe NVME Black SSD shows up in most of these builds as the price and performance is at the top of it’s class.  As for the soundcard; at this point if you are enough of an audiophile to need one, you already know how much you will need to pay!  Sabrent is offering great deals on their 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD and powering it all is a brilliant PSU from Corsair.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 remains relatively available and the price hasn’t gone crazy so it is still worth picking up.  Paring it with a B550 motherboard means you now have PCIe 4.0 support, not to mention the extras ASRock included on the B550M PRO4.  This upgrade also means a new SSD, with Sabrent’s 500GB Rocket currently offering the best deal.  If you do need more space, the difference in speed will not be noticeable in many cases so a 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD is a decent choice.   With a new motherboard comes new RAM, and if you don’t want this kit you should check the QVL list to minimize any pain when setting up your system.

I don’t want to talk about the GPU … wait until an RTX 2060/3060 is reasonable.

There is not much point in building a Budget system right now, the price increases have hurt the low end more so than the high end.  With the fact you cannot pick up an APU for anywhere near a reasonable price which means this build requires a GPU.  At the low end, the GPU market is enough to make you cry out in despair.  The ancient GTX 1050 Ti is almost $200 as is the RX 560, which is simply too much to pay for them.  The memory remains unchanged as the deal remains in place and there is one shining light, you can afford a 500GB NVMe SSD.  The Comet Lake processor is relatively recent and a remains as at a decent price, while the ASRock motherboard will give you every feature you will need for a Budget build and even gives you room to add extra features if you like.

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 2020 $1271.00

This is the Dream System. No compromises, IOO. It will be called Dream System 2021 when it has parts from this year!

Processor — Ryzen 7 5800X$427

Ryzen 7 5800X - 1

 multithreaded goodness, great power to performance
 It ain't a 5950X, Good luck mining your money back

If you are building a brand new system and have no old GPU to tide you over until 2039 you could consider the Core i9-11900K with it’s Xe GPU. If you do have a GPU then the Ryzen 9 5800X generally offers equal or better performance and chews up less power. There are more powerful Ryzen chips out there, but not at anywhere near MSRP.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master$370

GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master - 2

 3 NVMEe slots, powerful, yet passive chipest cooling
 they do charge for the extras

Gigabyte is doing a great job with this generation of AMD motherboards, tending to include a bit more on their boards compared to the others.  The AORUS Master sports three NVMe slots, not to mention ALC1220-vb and an EShttps://pcper.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=leaderboard_itemS Sabre 9218 DAC, just to name a couple of features.  The power delivery system is nothing to sneer at either.

Video Card — The One You Have$0

The One You Have - 3

 all of it

If … and that is a big if … you can find a current generation GPU for sale, it will be $2000 or more.  If you opt for one several years old it will still cost around $1000.

Just say no!

Memory — HyperX Predator 16GB 3600MHz (x2)$132

HyperX Predator 16GB 3600MHz (x2) - 4

 Your processor's favourite frequency, decent price
 no RGBs ... which could be another positive point

With the push of a button, your system will be running stably with DDR4-4800MHz RAM with a CL 19 in XMP.  16GB isn’t enough for you, and as 16GB DIMMs are having a pricing crisis similar to the GPU and CPU a pair of 16GB kits is the way to go.

Hard Drive — Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 Plus$200

Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 Plus - 5

 pretty much the best PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive in existence
 The 2TB is more than twice the price

What’s faster than a Sabrent Rocket?  Not much at all that we’ve tested, though that could change. Isn’t it lovely that one component isn’t a compromise?

Sound Card — Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus$142

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus - 6

 Joshtekk approved, you will hear quality you never have before
 you might not want to hear this much

There are those for whom onboard audio will never measure up, and as you can’t buy much else, why not grab a sound card to play with?  Creative’s AE-5 Plus gives you the ability to drive even 600Ω head phones, with amazing accuracy.  You also get true 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Encoding to brag about.

Power Supply — EVGA SuperNOVA 850 GA$-$60

EVGA SuperNOVA 850 GA - 7

With an 80 PLUS Gold rating and 10 year warranty you can expect this PSU to be powering your system for a long time. The PSU is incredibly efficient and stable, which you need in a system with these powerful components installed.

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High End System $1990.00

High end gaming for around $1500.

Processor — AMD Ryzen 7 5800X$427

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X - 8

 As many threads as Intel, better overall performance
 No iGPU

Things are changing a little bit, with the 5800X belonging on the High End system and being available for slightly under MSRP.  It’s 16 threads can boost up to 4.7GHz from the base of 3.8GHz and with a single CCX there is a good chance you can push it harder than that with decent cooling.

Motherboard — Gigabyte X570 AORUS Elite$200

Gigabyte X570 AORUS Elite - 9

 solid overall board, all the features you need
 no USB-C

If you’ve ever wondered what Josh and I have in our enclosures then wonder no more.  The X570 Aorus Elite serves us both well, offering the features we want but none of the extras we don’t need.  There is also a WiFi edition which often costs the exact same if you are a fan of latency.  Two M.2, enough PCIe 4.0 lanes to satisfy and a nice design.

Video Card — ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super$1000

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super - 10

 none, seriously, do not buy
 this shouldn't even be here

You could save $70 and pick up a 1080 Ti!  Or you know, do something less insane like waiting until a recent GPU arrives in stock for long enough for you to grab it.

Please note, PCPer does not condone moving into your local computer store until they sell you a Navi or Ampere GPU.

Memory — Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 16GB (x2)$83

Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 16GB (x2) - 11

 On the QVL list, Good sale
 You might not want to fill all 4 slots

32GB DDR4-3600 kit prices are a bit odd right now, but this 16GB kit from Corsair works perfectly with the Aorus Extreme and picking up two of these kits will save you several hundred dollars compared to a pair of 16GB DIMMs.

Hard Drive — Sabrent 1TB Rocket$170

Sabrent 1TB Rocket - 12

 1TB at under 20 cents/gb, PCIe 4.0
 no raccoon

Sabrent’s PCIe 4.0 SSDs are on sale so it is a perfect purchase for your new system.  It is a shining light in a bleak component market. You could opt for the 500GB model to shave off a few dollars if you so desire.

Sound Card — Audigy 2 ZS Gamer$0

Audigy 2 ZS Gamer - 13

Over $200 in free games and one of the best soundcards made!  Audiophiles know what they want, and they know how to get it.

Power Supply — Corsair CX750F RGB$110

Corsair CX750F RGB - 14

 easy to find in the dark, modular
 maybe too much RGB

You want extra RGBs?  What about adding some to your PSU so that when installed at the bottom of your case it will add a funky glow underneath your system?  It isn’t just pretty either, Corsair makes reliable PSUs and as a bonus it is full modular.

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Mid Range System $955.00

You can clearly play from middle.

Processor — AMD Ryzen 5 3600$200

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 - 15

 better deal than the 3600X, bios update kit, remained a reasonable price
 stock comes and goes

The new Ryzen has hit the market even harder than the second generation, offering significant architectural advantages and punching above it’s weight class.  The 65W TDP means that the Wraith Stealth cooler which ships with the CPU is more than enough to run a stock system quietly. You can spend an extra $40 for the unlocked if you have your heart set on it.

Motherboard — ASRock B550M PRO4$105

ASRock B550M PRO4 - 16

 Two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, so many USB 3.2 including a Type-C

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 — ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 5600 XT$370

ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 5600 XT - 17

 patience is a virtue

This is a matter of take what you can get. There is little reason to pick up a 5600 XT at these prices but if you have to build a system right this second then this is about the only card you can get short of having something shipped from overseas.

Memory — Thermaltake TOUGHRAM RC DDR4 3600MHz$95

Thermaltake TOUGHRAM RC DDR4 3600MHz - 18

 On the QVL list, DDR4-3600 is Ryzen's favourite
 Thermaltake might not be your go to RAM company, Hynix, not Samsung B-Die

If you are going with a Ryzen processor then DDR4-3600 is your best bet as it offers the best match to the frequency Infinity Fabric runs at.  Thermaltake provided the heatspreaders  and sourced the chips from Hynix.   This specific RA24D408GX2-3600C18A kit appears on ASRock’s QVL list for Matisse so you shouldn’t have any issues.

Hard Drive — Sabrent 500GB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0$90

Sabrent 500GB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0 - 19

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

Moving up to a B550 board means support for PCIe 4.0 and so we see Sabrent appear on the HWLB for the mid-range system.  If you need more storage, dropping back to PCIe 3.0 should let you double the capacity without increasing the price.  Keep an eye out for sales as well as you often see drives being sold at a deep discount.

Sound Card — Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX$40

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$55

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 $572.00

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

Processor — Intel Core i3-10100F$120

Intel Core i3-10100F - 22

 available to buy, DDR4-2666 support, 14nm is cool again?
 you are going to need to buy a GPU, limited stock, rocket lake is coming

Intel will be powering the Budget build thanks to the insane pricing of any Ryzen 3 processors actually on the market right now.  Unlike previous builds we cannot base the system on a chip with an iGPU, instead it is the 4 core/eight thread i3-10100F which will offer you a 3.60GHz base clock, boosting up to 4.30GHz.  Overall a decent choice at the price, shortages or no.

Motherboard — ASRock B460M PRO4$93

ASRock B460M PRO4 - 23

 Two M.2 slots + 1 for WiFi, Optane support in case you go crazy, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C
 unlikely to ever support PCIe 4.0

There are inexpensive B460 boards which do not sacrifice the important features to keep the price down somewhat.  This ASRock still supports M.2, has four DIMM slots which can handle up to DDR4-2933, a half dozen SATA ports and even two PCIe 3.0 16x slots which offer full speed.  Realtek’s ALC1200 codec might not be the newest on the market but it will still provide decent sound, same for the Intel NIC.

Video Card — ASUS GTX 1650 OC$195

ASUS GTX 1650 OC - 24 Check out our review!

 Good factory overclock
 A GTX 1650 in 2021?

If you thought trying to source a new GPU is depressing, try looking at the low end.  Many cards that were once around $100 have more than doubled in price, regardless of their age.  Putting a GTX 1650 back on the HWLB is painful but also the only choice to keep the price around $200.  This particular card sports a decent overclock with a Boost Clock of up to 1655 MHz.

Honestly you are better off diving into eBay and hoping for good luck.

Memory — Kingston HyperX FURY DDR4-2666MHz$49

Kingston HyperX FURY DDR4-2666MHz - 25

 tigher timings do exist if you pay extra,

A pair of 4GB DDR4-2666 with timings of 15-15-17-45 at a decent price. Pick up two if you can afford them, the motherboard supports four DIMMs in dual channel.

Hard Drive — WD Black 500GB NVMe$65

WD Black 500GB NVMe - 26

 great price
 PCIe 3.0 but hey, so is your motherboard and CPU

Al’s review of the new WD Black NVMe SSDs show them to have amazing performance, often beating out Samsung’s offerings.  The one good piece of news on this HWLB update is that everyone can have an NVME drive of a decent size!

Sound Card — Onboard Audio$0

Onboard Audio - 27

 Out of the box available!
 Can be noisy.

With the 7.1 surround Realtek ALC892 audio chipset onboard you don’t need to pick up a sound card, something that helps bring the price of the budget build down. The quality of sound reproduction is perfect for watching movies or listening to music and while it won’t be terribly effective at sound editing, that really is not the purpose of this build.

Power Supply — Corsair CV450$50

Corsair CV450 - 28

 decent warranty

The 80+ Bronze Corsair CV450 picks up the recommendation thanks to it’s 5 year warranty and Corsair’s reputation.  450W will certainly power this system and the 120mm fan won’t add much sound to your PC’s operations.  While it is not modular, it does still sport nice sleeving on the cables to keep things looking nice.