PC Perspective Hardware LeaderboardSponsored by: Somebody
Updated July 3rd, 2015:
Along with the PCPer HWLB its self, 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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Haswell-E has finally arrived to power our Dream System with the most powerful silicon on the planet, the i7-5960X. Of course that means the motherboard has to be swapped out which is why the ASUS X99-Deluxe with WiFi, BlueTooth, Thunderbolt, SEx and M.2 connectors as well as much more was chosen as the base of the system. The other big change is DDR-4, with the initial price so high and availability so low it is G.SKILL's 16GB DDR4-2400 which appears on the Leaderboard. Old favourites like the 1TB Samsung 850 Evo are still included, though if have budget then go with the 1.2TB Intel 750 PCIe SSD. The GPU remains AMD, the MSI R9 390X GAMING 8G may be a rebrand with a bit more speed but the price for two of them is more attractive than two GTX 980s, and 4K monitors will like the extra GDDR5. The EVGA SuperNOVA 1200 P2 Platinum PSU will ensure all your components are powered reliably.
The alternative Dream System is on hold until another Dual LGA2011 board becomes available.
The new High End system has been updated with Devils Canyon, the faster i7-4790K is paired with the inexpensive MSI Z97-Gaming 7 with an M.2 slot and and impressive array of features. The storage subsystem is upgrade to 3D with the introduction of the 1TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD. The High End system keeps the XFX DoubleD R9 290X for now as the pricing on it is far better than the other two possiblities. The R9 390 is new to the market but you have met the card before and if you prefer NVIDIA then check out the overclocked 970 but really the 290X is the best deal and picking up a second one could be within your budget. At this point 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 has moved to Haswell, with the unlocked i5-4690K on Gigabyte's GA-Z97X-UD3H Black Edition which is both versatile and inexpensive. The Tonga based R9 285X is a great card and will let you fully benefit from the new features in the Omega driver and Freesync displays when they hit the market. The Samsung 850 EVO is a great price for a 250GB model. This month your 8GB of DDR3-1600 comes from G.SKILL thanks to both tight timings and a great price. Corsair's solid Builder Series 500W PSU is one of the more reliable PSUs at that power level and remains for another month.
AMD's Kaveri A10-7700K 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 even more sense than with Richland but if you want to try Hybrid Crossfire then you are looking at an R7-240 or R7-250. The new processor supports PCIe 3.0 which makes the Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H a great choice as it offers both a good price and impressive versatility. 4GB of 1866MHz RAM from G.SKILL and a Builder Series PSU on special at $40 after MIR are both great for this system. It is also time to retire the spinning rust and replace it with the impressively fast and inexpensive Crucial BX100 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.
Haswell-E has finally arrived for those who need the most processing power they can get their mitts on. While the new CPU won't give you huge improvements in gaming it blows away its predecessors when it comes to encoding and applications which require serious processing. The 5960X sports 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes so you can use quite a few GPUs or PCIe SSDs simultaneously. Check Ryan's review here.
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.
This is a tough choice, the GTX 980 will give slightly better performance but costs about 15% more, which is one of the reasons AMD's R9 390X gets the nod. The second reason is the 8GB of RAM as this system will have two cards and that larger pool of memory will pay off when gaming in 4K. The MSI R9 390X GAMING 8G sports the highest factory overclock and a great cooler and will be right at home in your Dream Machine.
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 2400 16GB kit which gets approval for now. The timings of 15-15-15-35 are attractive when compared to faster DDR4, though not as tight as DDR3 of an equivalent speed. That isn't bad news, it just means an opportunity to tweak the frequency and timings!
The new Samsung 850 Pro is the fastest and most resilient SSD on the market but costs you an extra $115 making the 850 EVO the better choice. The price is much better and the performance is every bit as good for gamers.
If you really want the best available speed then you need to spend more. The Intel 750 1.2TB PCIe card is amazingly fast but at $1050 you will have to make sure you can afford it.
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.
The Devil's Canyon based i7-4970K has arrived and while it offers little incentive as an upgrade it is perfect to base a new system on. Running faster than its predecessor at 4GHz base and 4.4GHz boost you will be getting the best Haswell part Intel currently has on offer. It should also offer a bit more overclocking headroom thanks to the improved TIM.
To move to Z97 we are giving up on Thunderbolt but gaining M.2 which will allow you to exceed the speed allowed by SATA 6Gbs. As well you gain a KillerNIC and a seriously impressive onboard audio solution which Morry covered in his review. With a pair of PCIe 16x slots you have the ability to pick up a second GPU in the future, numerous USB and SATA ports and a nice clean design around the CPU socket which increases your choice of heatsink.
The $300-$400 GPU segment is so incredibly close right now it is a toss up between the GTX 970, the R9 390 and the R9 290X. If you have a strong preference then feel free to go with a deal on a heavily overclocked 970 like this ZOTAC AMP! or a new MSI R9 390 GAMING 8G. In my mind, a $280 (after rebate) XFX Double Dissipation R9-290X is the best use of your money. It isn't the newest card but the speed is almost exactly the same and the price is brilliant!
With RAM prices falling, why not up your memory to 16GB with timings of 9-9-9-24 on G.SKILL's 2x9GB DDR3-1600 kit? If you need to shave some money off, the 8GB kit is a mere $48.
The jump to the Samsung 850 is more than just a number change, it introduces 3D flash to the market. Al's testing shows it does not fragment as much as previous SSDs and the 10 year warranty is nice to see. The 850 EVO is another great choice if the shorter warranty doesn' worry you and it is a little less expensive at $100.
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.
The unlocked Haswell i5-4690K is a good base for a Mid Range PC and while the internal HD4600 GPU is a vast improvement over previous generations it is still not going to hold up to gaming duties without a discrete GPU to help it. The iGPU will come in handy when you are working on your own media creation.
Building the mid-range system off of the new Z97 chipset only makes sense although perhaps not one of the flagship models. The Gigabyte Black Edition is one of the few lower end motherboards with two PCIe 3.0 slots to give your system more flexibility and it also includes both Sata Express and an M.2 port for 10Gbps storage. Gigabyte have packed a lot of features on this board.
If you are aching for the new version, the R9 380 will run you about the same as the R9 285 model previously recommended and for good reason as it is essentially the same card. That gives you Virtual Super Resolution and the other features introduced in Tonga at a decent price. If you prefer to save $30 with a MIR then this GIGABYTE Radeon R9 285 is where you should go, same core and clocks with a better price, though stocks won't last long.
It looks like RAM prices are spiking again, though still a lot less than DDR4, DDR3 prices seem to have jumped $20 this month. Timings matter more than MHz, so at 8-8-8-24 the G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB DDR3-1600 kit are the pick this month. XMP support should help get your system up and configured in no time; then you can start overclocking.
If you really need a sound card for this build the ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 at $25 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 500W PSU provides 38A on the 12V rail and has an 80 PLUS BRONZE Certification. This PSU which will handle either of the suggested GPUs and you also get a nice 3 year warranty, which is not bad for a 500W PSU. It is likely compatible with the new sleep states introduced by Haswell.
Kaveri has arrived with somewhat updated Steamroller cores and a very impressive upgrade to the graphics cores. It does drive the price of the CPU up somewhat but as it is capable of playing current title games at 1080p on low or medium settings, especially those which benefit from Mantle. You can get an idea of the performance to expect from Ryan's review of the slightly lower clocked A8-7600.
The Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H has a PCIe 3.0 slot, which your new Kaveri processor now supports as well as a PCIe 2.0 4x slot, three 1x slots and even a pair of legacy PCI slots. It also has a wide variety of ports available and can handle multiple displays as long as you weren't planning on using them for high resolution gaming. For an HTPC you could consider the mATX GA-F2A88XM-D3H.
Until we can confirm the ability of the R7 3xx series to perform in AMD Dual Graphics, the best budget card to pair with your A10-7700K is the R7 250 as the R7 240 prices have been climbing. If you do want a discrete GPU to add to your Low End System, the MSI R7 250 2GD3 OC is overclocked and only $68 after MIR.
With falling DDR3 prices it makes sense to up the system memory on the Low End System to 8GB. If you are really strapped for cash you can get a 4GB kit for $35 but it makes more sense to give your system more memory. G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB DDR3-1600 offers decent timings and a great price.
At $100 the speed of the Crucial BX100 250GB SSD will surprise you pleasantly as it did Al. 250GB is a little tight for storage so if you do not have other physical or cloudy storage space you could go with a 1 TB HDD for about half the price but you are missing out on enjoying the speed SSDs offer.
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, 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.