What is the PC Perspective HW Leaderboard?
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, so bear with me as I gather my thoughts, dig through reviews and prices so that the refreshed builds are as good as we can make them. Everything still costs way too much but the Low End System is now up to date.
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. 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.
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
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 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
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
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
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$142
There are those for whom onboard audio will never measure up, and as you can’t buy much else, why not grab a sound card to play with? Creative’s AE-5 Plus gives you the ability to drive even 600Ω head phones, with amazing accuracy. You also get true 5.1 surround, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Encoding to brag about.
Power Supply — EVGA SuperNOVA 850 GA$-$60
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.
High End System $1990.00
High end gaming for around $1500.
Processor — AMD Ryzen 7 5800X$427
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
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
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
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’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
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
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.
Mid Range System $972.00
You can clearly play from middle.
Processor — AMD Ryzen 5 3600X$200
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Low End System $640.00
Plenty of fun still to be had on the low side.
Processor — Intel Core i5-12400$160
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
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
Sorry, but new ~$200 GPUs still ain’t a thing.
Memory — XPG Z1 16GB DDR4-3200MHz CL16$50
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
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
7.1 surround brought to you by Realtec, dunno which one but it is HD.
Power Supply — EVGA 500 W3, 80+$40
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.