What is the PC Perspective HW Leaderboard?
Updated May 4th, 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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Haswell-E remains the most powerful choice, the 40 PCIe lanes ensure that the Dream System retains 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. 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. For the GPU, the only thing better than one ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti STRIX is two of them in SLI, unless you strap on the VR goggles as multi-GPU support has a ways to go. 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 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. In order to ensure you have a great experience when using VR goggles, the High End system will use MSI's GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4GB as it offers better performance than a GTX970. The R9 390 is still a decent choice if you prefer AMD's offerings . 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. 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 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. 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.