What is the PC Perspective HW Leaderboard?
Updated January 18th, 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. 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 GTX 980 Ti remains the fastest available card with the only thing better than a ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti STRIX is two of them in SLI. 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, a nice mix of price and performance. 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 upgrade to 3D with the introduction of the 1TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD. The High End system will use the EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW+ ACX 2.0 thanks to the current deal on NewEgg and the impressive factory overclock. The R9 390 and 290X are still decent choices but at this time the price is just not right. 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 is still Haswell, as the cost of Skylake is a bit high still. The unlocked i5-4690K will pair nicely with the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard which leaves room for upgrading once your bank account regenerates. The Tonga based R9 380X is a great card and will let you fully benefit from the new features such as Virtual Super Resolution. 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 600W 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.