What is the PC Perspective HW Leaderboard?
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.
Make sure that you take advantage of our new Amazon Affiliate program, it doesn't cost you a nickel and helps PCPer continue to bring you the latest in tech news.
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.