PC Perspective Hardware LeaderboardSponsored by: Somebody
Updated August 15th, 2016:
Along with the PCPer HWLB itself, you can also head to the PCPer Hardware Leaderboard forum! This forum is where you can discuss my selections and offer your own suggestions. It is also the place for you to talk about the new system build you are working on even if it's NOT based on anything here.
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Pascal has arrived on the HWLB as GTX 1080 Founders Edition cards begin to arrive on the market at a price with a passing relation to the MSRP. Expect the card of choice to change frequently as custom cards come out and the price drops and sales begin. While it is the most expensive consumer processor on the market it is also the most powerful which is why the price of the Dream System has spiked; meet the Core i7-6950X. The ASUS X99-Deluxe stays around for now while we await the new generation of X99 boards, but with WiFi, BlueTooth, Thunderbolt, SEx and M.2 connectors and much more it is still a worth motherboard. DDR4's pricing continues to fall and G.SKILL's 16GB DDR4-2400 is nowhere near as expensive as it used to be. Samsung's M.2 version of the 950 Pro brings you NVMe and PCIe speeds at a reasonable price and is well worth the investment. The EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 Platinum PSU will ensure all your components are powered reliably.
The new High End system has been updated with Skylake and is ready for VR, as well as high end displays. We recommend investing in the i7-6700K but the i5 is almost as powerful if you are on a budget. The ASUS ASUS Z170-A brings many of the new features you expect to this motherboard while keeping the price well under $200, the 16GB of CORSAIR Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 also keeps with the theme of price conscious performance. The storage subsystem is takes advantage of the low price of the 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD to leave a little more room for your GPU. It is hard to recommend a specific GTX 1070 at this time considering the pricing problems, however we can recommend a custom cooled GTX 1070 as the card your High End system deserves. A discreet soundcard is a personal choice but if you are so inclined the ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 can be purchased, otherwise knock $50 off the price.
Our Mid-Range System moves up to Skylake as the prices are much more reasonable, as well as allowing you to level up to VR. The i5-6500 comes in at a decent price and the Gigabyte H170-Gaming 3 offers you a lot more than you might expect from a motherboard which costs less than $100. For your GPU, it is strongly recommended that you hold out for an RX 480 but if you need it now the EVGA GeForce GTX 970 or GIGABYTE Radeon R9 390 GAMING-8GD are decent choices. The 250GB Samsung 850 EVO is a great price and should hold at least some of your game library. Moving to an H170 board means moving to DDR4, though you should notice it does not change the price. Corsair's solid Builder Series 600W PSU is one of the more reliable PSUs at that power level and remains for another month.
AMD's Godavari A10-7860K is the a great processor for those on a budget and even if your budget is currently too tight for a discrete GPU you will still be able to game. Skipping the graphics card altogether makes budgetary sense but if you need the graphics power immediately the new AMD RX 460 is a great choice. AMD has refresehed the aging A88 chipset to allow AMD users to take advantage of the new USB 3.1 as well as other features, the Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3HP now comes recommended for full sized builds. 4GB of 1866MHz RAM from G.SKILL and a Builder Series PSU on special at $40 after MIR are both great for this system. Low cost SSDs do not translate into poor performance as you will have no problems with the Samsung 750 EVO 250GB SSD, if 250GB is too small you can still pick up a 1TB drive but you will enjoy the SSD far more.
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.
The Core i7-6950X is indeed the most powerful processor on the planet and also one of the most expensive by a fair margin. 10 cores at 3.5GHz, Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 and 25MB of Smart Cache do indeed effect your performance as you can see in Ryan's review. On the other hand you can get a 10 core Xeon E5 2640 v4 which runs 100MHz slower for a $500-700 less ... worth thinking about.
Pick the ASUS X-99 Deluxe to house your Haswell-E system, not just for the looks nor because Morry found a CMOS battery he liked but instead because of the amazing feature set. There is BlueTooth and dual band WiFi, 8-Channel ALC1150 codec, a pair of SEx connectors for 10Gbps assuming you don't take advantage of the M.2 sockets and so much more. You even get extra functionality out of the CPU socket to allow you to crank the power up higher than the competition.
Custom GTX 1080's with enhanced cooling are starting to remain in stock and the prices are starting to approach what NVIDIA quoted to us as MSRP. As there is still a premium you have to shop around for the current best deal, which right now is the ZOTAC GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme. The boost clock will hit 1911MHz out of the box, the triple ECO Fan deisgn should allow you to squeeze out a bit more from the card.
Based both on current availability and a lack of evidence that the price of higher speed DDR4 is worth the investment it is the G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 DDR4 2666 32GB kit which gets approval for now. The timings of 15-15-15-35 are attractive when compared to DDR4 with higher frequencies and give you an opportunity to tweak the frequency and timings!
Amazon has them as well, though the price is currently higher.
Moving to an M.2 PCIe based NVMe makes sense now that there is competition in the market and Samsung's 950 Pro is a great example of that. Al's review found this to be the fastest consumer M.2 drive on the market so it should find a home in all new high end systems.
If you feel that you have to have a sound card, perhaps one with changeable OPamps is a good idea as it will let you modify your systems sound in ways that onboard audio cannot. With 7.1 surround, SPDIF and RCA in along with a front panel connector the ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 will give you a lot of options without requiring a huge investment. There is currently a $10 MIR you can take advantage of as well.
Not that long ago the EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 Platinum Power Supply received the Editors Choice award from Lee and for good reason. 80PLUS Platinum, fully modular and with high end internals make this PSU reliable and attractive for a system requiring over a kilowatt of power. A 10 year warranty is a definite plus when you are spending this much on a PSU and this one is worth every penny.
Hello Skylake, nice to finally meet you. The i7-6700K comes to the High End machine at a bit over the MSRP due to availablity but it is a welcome addition. If the current price is daunting you could choose the $265 Core i5-6600K is a mite more affordable. As you can see in Ryan's full review, the new architecture shows noticeable improvements over Sandybridge.
Skylake motherboards can be expensive but the good news is that they don't have to be. Morry provided proof of that in his review of the ASUS Z170-A. Even with the reduced price, ASUS did not skimp on the features, from stable overclocking performance to a reasonably placed M.2 slot and even a a dedicated onboard water-pump header. This is a bargain ... which will help when it comes to buying DDR4.
With prices bouncing up and down hundreds of dollars and availablity as reliable as a politician's promise it is hard to pick one particular card for the Leaderboard at the moment. However a custom cooled GTX 1070 is the obvious choice for the High End system so keep your eyes peeled for decent deals, $380 is the price to try to hit.
With timings of 16-18-18-35 the 16GB of DDR-2666 from Corsair offer a great mix of price and performance. They may not glow or come with fans but this Corsair kit should ensure your memory subsystem stays stable whilst you are overclocking your CPU.
To bring the price down a hair without sacrificing performance, try the Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD for your system. As Al's review has shown this drive performs very well for the price and we should be seeing a new version with 48 layer NAND in the very near future.
If you feel that you have to have a sound card, perhaps one with changeable OPamps is a good idea as it will let you modify your systems sound in ways that onboard audio cannot. With 7.1 surround, SPDIF and RCA in along with a front panel connector the ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 will give you a lot of options for a $44 investment after rebate.
The Seasonic S21G 750 has a single 12V rail which can deliver up to 62A @ 744W, more than enough power for this system allowing the chance for a future upgrade without worrying about overtaxing your PSU. Lee gave it a Gold Award in his review, not only due to the PSU's soild performance but also because of the 5 year warranty.
VR support brings Skylake to the Mid-Range System, at just under $200 you can exceed the minimum specifications the Oculus tools looks for. A turbo frequency of 3.6 GHz, support for DDR4 and a LGA 1151 socket which means future upgrades are possible all make this a great choice for those aiming to spend around $1000 on a new rig.
For a mere $95 you can pick up the Gigabyte GA-H170-Gaming 3, giving you M.2 support along with LGA 1151 and DDR4 as well as SEx ports and a Killer NIC. The H170 series of board offer a lot of features you might not expect on a sub $100 motherboard and gives you a bit of future proofing as your budget recovers. The onboard sound is also of high enough quality you can skip the soundcard unless you have a good reason.
If you can find an RX 480 for $240-ish then that is the card to go with, the problem is stock. If you absolutely have to buy a mid-range GPU today the R9 390 and EVGA GTX 970 will do an equal amount of damage to your wallet and the performance will be similar. They will both handle VR but for those considering using large desktops the extra GDDR on the 390 will offer a slight advantage. For those reasons and the slightly lower price the R9 390 gets the nod.
With DDR4 hitting price parity with DDR3 the move to H170 will not hurt you as much as you think it will. Instead of 8GB of DDR3-1600 we recommend 8GB of DDR4-2133, it won't boost your performance noticeably but it will certainly work better on the Gigabyte board than DDR3 will. You can try to raise the clock speed or tighten the default timings of 15-15-15-35 if you want to eke out a bit more performance.
The brand new Samsung 850 EVO certainly impressed Al and it will you as well. Incredibly fast and with a decent price the 250GB EVO drive will leave you with plenty of space after OS installations. If you have the extra money the 256GB 850 Pro is $120 and is faster, albeit not by a huge margin for normal usage scenarios.
If you really need a sound card for this build the ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 at $20 after MIR is a decent deal and offers you more options than onboard audio will. On the other hand except for certain tasks, audio hardware found on modern motherboards will provide satisfactory performance.
The Corsair Builder Series 600W PSU is on special and with its longer cables and 40A on the single 12V rail it will handle either of the suggested GPUs on this build. While it is not modular you have to make some sacrifices and function should always trump form when you are purchasing a PSU.
Godavari just got a refresh, offering better power efficiency while retaining more or less the same performance as previous models. Josh took them and their new Wraith cooler out for a spin, showing that these still remain a great choice for a budget system, especially one with out a discrete GPU.
A Budget machine should not limit your possibilities and Gigabyte's GA-F2A88X-D3HP proves the point. USB 3.1 Type-C, 7.1 surround sound, eight SATA 6Gbps ports and much more are available on this motherboard, for well under $100. You can match most of these features on the GA-F2A88XM-D3HP microATX board if you prefer a smaller system.
Time to retire that R7 250 as even with AMD Dual Graphics pairing your A10's GPU you will not match the performance of the new RX 460 which also happens to be selling around the MSRP. This is totally optional for the Budget Build, you can skip the discrete GPU altogether and purchase this or a more powerful card at a later date.
With falling DDR3 prices it makes sense to up the system memory on the Low End System to 8GB. G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB DDR3-1600 offers decent timings and a great price. In fact at this price you could even think of picking up two kits and having 16GB of RAM!
The brand new Samsung 750 EVO certainly impressed Al and it will you as well. Incredibly fast and with a decent price the 250GB EVO drive will leave you with plenty of space after OS installations. If you need extra storage space and do not have an HDD lying around, $50 will get you a 2TB Hitachi HDD.
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.
This month on NewEgg is a sale on the modular Corsair CX430M bringing the actual cost down to $20. The PSU has enough power for the Budget Build with the added bonus of less case clutter since you only need to plug in the cables you will be using. It has a single 6+2 PCIe power connector and enough power to handle to handle a GPU if you opt for discrete video.