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PC Perspective Spring 2017 Buyer's Guide

Build and Upgrade Components

Spring is in the air! And while many traditionally use this season for cleaning out their homes, what could be the point of reclaiming all of that space besides filling it up again with new PC hardware and accessories? If you answered, "there is no point, other than what you just said," then you're absolutely right. Spring a great time to procrastinate about housework and build up a sweet new gaming PC (what else would you really want to use that tax return for?), so our staff has listed their favorite PC hardware right now, from build components to accessories, to make your life easier. (Let's make this season far more exciting than taking out the trash and filing taxes!)

While our venerable Hardware Leaderboard has been serving the PC community for many years, it's still worth listing some of our favorite PC hardware for builds at different price points here.

Processors - the heart of the system.

No doubt about it, AMD's Ryzen CPU launch has been the biggest news of the year so far for PC enthusiasts, and while the 6 and 4-core variants are right around the corner the 8-core R7 processors are still a great choice if you have the budget for a $300+ CPU. To that end, we really like the value proposition of the Ryzen R7 1700, which offers much of the performance of its more expensive siblings for a really compelling price, and can potentially be overclocked to match the higher-clocked members of the Ryzen lineup, though moving up to either the R7 1700X or R7 1800X will net you higher clocks (without increasing voltage and power draw) out of the box.

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Really, any of these processors are going to provide a great overall PC experience with incredible multi-threaded performance for your dollar in many applications, and they can of course handle any game you throw at them - with optimizations already appearing to make them even better for gaming.

Don't forget about Intel, which has some really compelling options starting even at the very low end (Pentium G4560, when you can find one in stock near its ~$60 MSRP), thanks to their newest Kaby Lake CPUs. The high-end option from Intel's 7th-gen Core lineup is the Core i7-7700K (currently $345 on Amazon), which provides very fast gaming performance and plenty of power if you don't need as many cores as the R7 1700 (or Intel's high-end LGA-2011 parts). Core i5 processors provide a much more cost-effective way to power a gaming system, and an i5-7500 is nearly $150 less than the Core i7 while providing excellent performance if you don't need an unlocked multiplier or those additional threads.

Continue reading our Spring Buyer's Guide for selections of graphics cards, motherboards, memory and more!

Graphics Cards - Pew Pew Pew

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If processors are the heart of your new PC, then a graphics cards is the muscle. Obviously gaming isn't the only thing you are going to do with this new machine, but it will likely be the most taxing from a compute requirement. The current king of the hill for gamers is NVIDIA's GeForce GT 1080 Ti, and though it will cost ~$700, you will be able to power any resolution and any quality setting combination including 4K and HDR!

For those of you with more mild tastes in GPUs (or slightly slimmer wallets) then you have plenty of additional options. With a price drop to $499, the GeForce GTX 1080 is a great "reasonable" high end graphics card, with the GeForce GTX 1060 taking the claim to NVIDIA's best 1080p gaming solution.

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There is no denying that AMD is need of a refresh on the GPU side of things if it hopes to compete with NVIDIA across the entire family, but the current RX 480 does compete very well against the GTX 1060. Do keep in mind that the rumors are swirling about the RX 500-series as well, so if AMD is on your radar, you might want to hold off a week or two!

Motherboards - It's what everything plugs into!

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Ok, so you probably already have one of these if you have a PC. In fact, I know you do. Still, new CPUs mean new motherboards, and there hasn't been a more anticipated launch than AMD's Ryzen - and associated motherboards - in quite some time. Here things hit a snag in the beginning, with limited availability for many popular models, and firmware that needed tweaking. Now the second wave of X370 motherboards are here, along with fresh stock of the previously-impossible-to-find boards.

Naturally, Intel CPUs need motherboards too. The latest Kaby Lake processors need 200-series boards, with the Z270 at the top of the heap and generally offering the most features (and that overclocking support we crave).

Memory - More relevant than ever!

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While every system needs RAM, for the past few years the benefits of fast memory was mostly lost on gaming unless you were running an APU - until now! Ryzen REALLY LIKES fast memory, but finding compatible sticks that will clock as high as advertised requires careful adherence to the vendor-provided lists for your AM4 motherboard. But you really can't go wrong with one of the most compatible brands, with Corsair's Dominator Platinum sticks on many qualified vendor lists (QVL) with models like the CMD16GX4M4B3000C15, which offers premium ICs and speeds up to 3000 MHz (2933 MHz with Ryzen).

If you are looking for memory a little more on the budget side, but still high speed for Ryzen, check out the lower priced DDR4 options below.


April 9, 2017 | 12:14 PM - Posted by M (not verified)

not really exactly a buyers guide, as there's not a lot of particular recommendations. I was hoping for more of a refresh of the Hardware Leaderboard...

April 9, 2017 | 01:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is not a guide, it's an ad and WTF look at those drop down menu selections for Baby products.

April 9, 2017 | 03:10 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

LOL the embeds are context based from Amazon. That means it REALLY things you need some baby products. :)

Sorry!

April 9, 2017 | 05:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe, but promotional materal is creeping fruther into PCPer's content instead of being tastefully off to the side. Ad Blockers that where mostly not needed at PCPer are now required to restore some form of non disruptive viewing of content.

Those pushed ads are pushing out scripts that interfere with the UI and only annoy. It's not going to help if with any revenue shortfalls and juts creates more reasons to enable the ad blockers. More intrusive ads mean more ad blockers resulting in more ads pushed into readers faces that do not normally use ad blockers.

Hey there are drop down Amazon options for pet supplies and these wall of ads articles certianly qualify as dogfood.

April 9, 2017 | 03:08 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

i'm sure they'll do an update after Tuesdays processor releases and any resulting Intel price cuts..

April 9, 2017 | 05:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Mini Price war Ryzen 7 1700 against the 7700k, just watch out for those games that may like more than 4 CPU cores. Gamers that like to stream may want to look at more than 4 cores. I'll take the 8 core 1700 and overclock, but even if I don't as long as the framrates are mostly in the bounds low to high I'll always take more cores over less cores. That price per core metric will be AMD's winning metric! Look the R7 1700 $319.99/8 = around $40 per core, and the 7700K at 313.89/8 = around $78 per core.

And both the DX12 and Vulkan API's are taking more of the stress off of the CPU, Intel's or AMD's CPUs. So I'll take those extra cores and threads(8 core 16 threads) on the Ryzen 7 1700. And the latest AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture (AGESA) update has fixed a lot of the gaming regressions with SMT enabled. The next AGESA updates from AMD will be targeting memory clocks/memory overclocking.

April 9, 2017 | 08:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My head hurt when I see a gaming web site recommends a four core CPU in 2017.

If you only play games on your PC, then an i7-7700K at 5 GHz may be okay. But this CPU runs hot and at 4K may not provide good frame rates in all games. In two years, 4K gaming will be common.

On the other hand, AMD R7 1700 has 8 real cores. The gamer will enjoy smoother game play and an excellent multi-threaded performance.

By the way, AMD R7 1700 is cheaper than Intel core i7-7700K processor.

April 9, 2017 | 11:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

7700K is likely the last 4 core CPU you will ever buy assuming you dont upgrade every year. Might as well skip it.

April 10, 2017 | 01:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you are upgrading, why would you buy anything on this list instead of just holding out for those Ryzen 5 CPU tests?

Even AMD says wait for the performance to be revealed.

If you are buying new, why not look at the MacBook that has some battery life for your portable programming? oh you are gaming? then buy a ps4? already have one of those sit back and make fun of these AMD fanboys

April 10, 2017 | 05:43 PM - Posted by JohnGR

7700K does hold an advantage today in games. Even after latest Ryzen optimizations. But it is a choice that limits the owner to 8 threads max, and only 4 real cores. If he ever needs more processing power, he will be forced to change the whole platform.

April 10, 2017 | 01:49 AM - Posted by Cyric (not verified)

Instead of 960evo. I think that a 950Pro, corsair mp500 or an OCZ RD400 are much better choices in terms of quality. MLC and not 960s TLC memory, that is 3x endurance. Also they can sustain the advertise speeds forever in contrary with the 960evo that the speeds advertised are applicable only as long as the cache is enough, after that you get sata ssd speeds. There is a very in depth review on this matter on this site.

April 10, 2017 | 09:04 AM - Posted by J7 (not verified)

No keyboard recommendation?

April 10, 2017 | 02:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Logitech G502 is the worst piece of garbage mouse I have ever bought. It stops responding every 5 minutes.
Don't buy it unless you want to destroy it in a fit of rage!!!

April 10, 2017 | 04:35 PM - Posted by Jose (not verified)

Mine doesn't have that sort of problems, but the scroll wheel sensor and click failed me and had to send it to them twice now. Would not recommend aswell.