What is the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard?

Updated 05/25/22

The time has come when looking at the Hardware Leaderboard no longer results in my hiding in a dark corner muttering MSRP over and over again until I’ve drank enough to try to rejoin society.  There are quite a few changes to consider, and more coming soon as we will be seeing new hardware from everyone in the not too distant future.

The Dream System will set you back a good $4000 but it is a beast.  When you combine an i9-12900K with an RTX 3090 Ti you have a true 4K gaming machine, with support for ray tracing.  In case you need some extra space for texture packs, grab a 2TB Sabrent 4 Plus which might not be the best any one test but is the best overall.  DDR5 is a bit of a challenge right now, not many recall needing to differentiate between single and dual sided DIMMs, let alone one DIMM per channel.  If you are looking to exceed DDR5-4800 you need to keep that in mind, as well as looking for the tightest timings possible.  It is also of utmost importance not to skimp on a PSU, a 450W+ GPU and a CPU that can hit 241W need sold power delivery to function well.

The High end of the Hardware Leaderboard has crept up in price to a $2000 target; not strictly because of the GPU but it certainly contributes.  There is a toss up between the R7 5800X and i7-11700K as the performance is essentially similar.  That makes price the deciding factor, but when shopping keep in mind you may need to spend extra on that Z590 board and certainly a lot more if you opt for DDR5.  For now, especially thanks to reasonably priced CAS-14 DDR4-3600, AMD gets the nod this month.  The Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC 12G is a decent price this month, and as ray tracing becomes far more common NVIDIA has to be the choice for the High End system.  You do get to try out a new PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD from Sabrent as well.

Our $1000 mid-range system is a tough call.  The Intel Core i5-12400F and a B660 board would be a very solid choice, as the performance would be essentially on par with this Ryzen 5 3600X and B550 board.  That leaves price as the deciding factor and at least for the moment an AMD platform is a bit less expensive.  If you find the opposite is true then go with Intel for your CPU and motherboard.  DDR4 is less expensive than DDR5 and has better timings, so you aren’t missing out, besides you can console yourself with a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD.  The graphics card is up to you, this RX 6500 XT happens to be a great deal but if you can spot something better for a good price then grab it before it evapourates!

The Budget System is over the $500 target, and sadly wet may never see it that low again thanks to the price of GPUs; even older ones.  The Hardware Leaderboard proves that just because you are shopping on the low end doesn’t mean you can’t get at least some new technology.  The Alder Lake i5-12400 is a great deal right now, and while switching to the Ryzen 5 5600G would give you better onboard graphics, in this case an overclocked GT 1650 will outperform either.  The new B660M motherboard from Gigabyte lets you get every bit of performance that the WD Black SN750 PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive and will support the 16GB of DDR4-3200 recommended on the build.  The Gigabyte B660M DS3H also has well designed power stages if you want to try your hand at overclocking the CPU.

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 2022 $3900.00

This is the Dream System. No compromises, IOO.

Processor — Core i9-12900K$376

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 fastest silicon going
 moar power!

If you want the best it is going to cost you to buy, and frankly to run. 8 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores hitting 5.2GHz at 125W will suck up the juice.  This is the best of the best, for now.

Motherboard — MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi$350

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 2 PCIe 5.0 slots, 5 M.2 ports, 2.5Gbp LAN
 no 10Gbp ?

This board has just about everything a young system could want. More PCIe 5.0 and M.2 than you will know what to do with, Bluetooth 5.2, 2.5Gbps wired and Intel WIFI 6E wireless to connect. Unlike many an AMD board, the USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps and 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps will both work wonderfully for even more peripherals to add in.

Video Card — MSI RTX 3090 Ti SUPRIM X 24G$2050

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 Fast, Faster, FASTEST
 that price though

How would you feel about Boost clocks starting from 1965 MHz, 24GBs of VRAM at 21 Gbps and 10752 CUDA cores?  The RTX 3090 Ti is almost obnoxiously fast, there is certainly nothing else that can come close to this card.  You do have to pay to play though.

Memory — G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6400 32GB$430

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 CL32-39-39-102
 price, should be compatible, but not on the list

There is no reason to think these won’t work as long as you only put in one per channel but they don’t specifically show on the QVL.  There are a few ADATA DDR5-6666 which do but they aren’t for sale, as well as some Teamgroup T-Force DDR5-6400 if you want to play it safe.  Just make sure to watch those timings!

Hard Drive — Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB$300

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 PCIe 4.0 at it's best
 Still not 10 cents per gig

Sabrent have really made a name for themselves in the NVMe market, often offering performance on par or better than other more established names.  This drive is no different, rated for up to 7000 MB/s read and 5300 MB/s write.   They are also able to run with just the included heatspreader, or with one from your motherboard attached to it.

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

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 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$254

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

If you intend to run an i9-12900K and an RTX 3090 Ti 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 also ships with a PCIe power adapter for that beast of a GPU and it’s unique power requirements.

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High End System $2087.00

High end gaming for around $2000.

Processor — AMD Ryzen 7 5800X$309

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 As many threads as Intel, better price than Alder Lake at the moment
 No iGPU, No DDR5 for you

For the most part AMD’s 5800X and Intel’s i7-12700K perform the same which means price should be your biggest consideration.  Right now AMD has a much better price so it’s the one to go with!  You can’t play with DDR5 but for now that new memory technology is both more pricy and not as effective as we might prefer.

Motherboard — Gigabyte X570 AORUS Elite$200

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 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 — GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC 12G$973

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 Everything RX 6800 XT plus ray tracing, sticker shock is no longer fatal
 ray tracing costs you ~$150 extra

Ray tracing has become common enough, and pretty enough to favour NVIDIA over AMD on the High End.  If you don’t want to imbibe, the RX 6800 XT will cost you less and do almost everything as well.  With prices finally coming back to reality, a current generation GPU can be within reach.

Memory — TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARGB 3600MHz$261

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 CL 14, 3600MHz just like your CPU likes
 Sorry no DDR5 for you yet

The TF13D432G3600HC14CDC01 isn’t listed on the QVL but is similar enough to other TeamGroup DIMMs which are that you should have no problems. On trick you could try is to look for inexpensive kits with higher frequencies and similar timings to see if you can tighten the timings at 3600MHz. You will see memory performance similar to DDR5 systems thanks to their loose timings.

Hard Drive — Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB$150

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 PCIe 4.0 at it's best
 Still not 10 cents per gig

Sabrent have really made a name for themselves in the NVMe market, often offering performance on par or better than other more established names.  This drive is no different, rated for up to 7000 MB/s read and 5300 MB/s write.   They are also able to run with just the included heatspreader, or with one from your motherboard attached to it.

Sound Card — Creative Sound Blaster Z SE$100

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 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 CX750F RGB$94

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 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 $972.00

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

Processor — AMD Ryzen 5 3600X$200

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 better gaming performance than the i5-12400F
 This is a sale that could any at any time

This is tough choice, as the i5-12400F is better overall, but a hair behind in gaming performance. Indeed the performance is so close the only reason the AM CPU gets the nod is it’s sale price. If it returns to full price, then Intel’s offering is the superior choice.

Motherboard — GIGABYTE B550M DS3H$130

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 full feature set for less
 no USB-C/Thunderbolt

There is a nice sale on this board which helps keep the price under control.  You still get two M.2 ports, a variety of PCIe slots and both Realtek audio and LAN.  WiFi is handled by Intel Wi-Fi AC 3168 and it has Bluetooth 4.2 if you are more of the wireless type.

Video Card — MSI Gaming AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT$310

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 nice price
 no factory overclock to speak of

Aye, GPUs are still a sore subject and a component you definitely want to shop around for.  This particular card is fairly typical for an RX 6500 XT in all factors but one, the price.  If you can find a better Radeon or RTX card for a great deal then you should probably grab it immediately.

Memory — Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4-3600 CL18$105

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 pretty, 16GB
 timings are a "mere' CL18

The number of CL16 DIMMs that are rated as compatible is rather slim and those that you can find are often 2.5x the price.  It is the frequency which matters the most however, DDR4-3600 matches the frequency of the fabric on the CPU and a 1:1 divider pays dividends.

Hard Drive — Sabrent 500GB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0$110

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 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$57

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 audiophiles
 superfluous

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$60

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 5 year warranty, flat cables, Single +12V Rail
 non-modular

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 $640.00

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

Processor — Intel Core i5-12400$160

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 Decent Price, Great single threaded performance, Shiny new P-Cores
 Lack of E-cores hurts multithreaded performance, Intel UHD 730 ain't great

The price of the 4.4GHz i5-12400 with 6 P-cores has dropped to the point it is hard to justify buying the i3-12100 for $30 less, but that is certainly an option.  You also don’t seem to save by going with the GPU-less i5-12400F.  This CPU might occasionally fall behind the Ryzen 5 3600 in multicore performance, but overall it has a better showing than AMD’s current offerings.

Motherboard — Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4$120

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 6+2+1 Phases Hybrid Power Design, Dual NVME PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2
 Sorry no DDR5 for you yet

You have a lot of choices in B660M motherboards, but Gigabyte currently has the best deal.  This is the Budget System so DDR5 is bit too expensive to show up here but PCIe 4.0 for NVMe drives is certainly within reach now.  The power design on this board is also very robust for it’s price, for those interesting in diving into the UEFI to tweak things.

Video Card — ASUS GTX 1650 4GB Phoenix Fan OC$210

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 Better than the similarly priced 1050Ti
 4GB VRAM, Still costs too much

Sigh.

Sorry, but new ~$200 GPUs still ain’t a thing.

Memory — XPG Z1 16GB DDR4-3200MHz CL16$50

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 Decent Price, No RGBs!
 No RGBs?

The Gigabyte B660M DS3H is rated for DDR4-3200, you could play with higher frequencies but for this build saving up for another pair of 8GB DIMMs would make more sense.  If you can find a better deal, go for it!

Hard Drive — WD_BLACK 500GB SN750 SE$60

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 3,600 MB/s read, PCIe 4.0
 There are faster drives out there if you can afford them

How about some nice PCIe 4.0 x4 performance for your low end build?  Of all the components this is the one that has actually remained reasonably priced, even without the sale.  Up to 3,600 MB/s reads is going to feel great, especially if you are coming from SATA.

Sound Card — Onboard Audio$0

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 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+$40

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 500W on a budget, 3 year warranty
 non-modular

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.