Review Index:

Take me to your Leaderboard - Holiday 2013 Build Guides

Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

What is the Hardware Leaderboard

What is a Leaderboard?  If you have to ask you really haven't clicked on enough of the tabs at the top of PC Perspective!  The Leaderboard consists of four different systems, each with a price target and are updated monthly.   They start with the ~$500 budget system which is for general family or dorm usage but not for heavy gaming usage, though it can certainly handle many online games without issue.  The Mid Range machine can be yours for around $1000 and packs enough power under the hood to handle productivity software and can give a console a run for its money when gaming.  Things start getting more serious when you look at the High End machine, even while keeping the price around $1500 you start to see serious performance that will show you why PC Gaming is still far more popular than some would have you believe.  Finally is the Dream Machine which doesn't have a specific price cap but is limited by a certain amount of common sense; you can slap four GPUs in the system but you really will not be getting a great return on your investment as the performance scaling does not continue to increase at a linear pace.

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You may notice several components missing from the HWLB and there is a reason for that.  Enclosures are a very personal choice for system builders and no ones desires are exactly the same.  Dremel owners with a good imagination want a case that is easily moddable while pet owners want washable filters on their systems.  Some may want a giant white case while others an unobtrusive and quiet enclosure and who can tell where you prefer your front panel connectors to be but you?  Cooling solutions are again a personal choice, do you plan on getting the biggest chunk of metal you can find with three 140mm fans strapped to it or were you thinking of using watercooling, either a self contained CPU cooler or a custom built cooling loop that incorporates multiple components?  The same applies to monitors with some gamers preferring to sacrifice colour quality and viewing angle for the refresh rates of a TN display while others have a need to pick up a professional quality display at over $1000 for when they are working.  Size is always personal; just how big can you fit in your place?  (Editor's note: we did include a couple of case recommendations in the build guide summary tables, in case you are interested though.)

So continue on to see the components that make up the current four builds of the Hardware Leaderboard.  Once you have all your components you can reference Ryan's videos covering the installation of the parts into the case of your choice as well as installing your OS and Steam so you can get right to gaming and surfing.

Jump straight to the Low End System Build Guide!!


Video News

December 19, 2013 | 05:20 PM - Posted by funk (not verified)

What is the case in the picture for this article that you dont even use in the article?

December 19, 2013 | 05:28 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Stole it from Ryan's Hadron review ... we didn't have a good half built system picture handy

December 22, 2013 | 09:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is an EVGA Hadron Case. Here is the link:

December 19, 2013 | 05:33 PM - Posted by KevTheGuy (not verified)

I think it would be better if you replace the APU with the Athlon x4 750k and then add an HD 7770 or 7790 maybe? Also that RAM is so expensive! ._.

December 19, 2013 | 08:35 PM - Posted by Fishbait

Really great choices, you can't go wrong with them. I personally would pony up for the i3-4340 and a decent motherboard for the mid-range and then go for the i5 4670k on the high end. Gaming isn't really effected by the CPU beyond that :D

December 20, 2013 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So how good is the A8-6600K + Radeon HD 6670 in hybrid Xfire?

Is 1080p gaming possible with that combo or is hybrid Xfire a joke?

December 20, 2013 | 01:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yay I've been waiting for this :)

December 20, 2013 | 01:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice but can you give some though to doing SFF builds as well? That's a growing market :)

December 21, 2013 | 03:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yay for all Nvidia garbage for all these builds.... Guess the writer of this article loves the money he is getting from the Green trolls!! I come out cheaper with my custom water cooled R9-290X that is OC to 1275 MHZ that &*^% all over the so called "Dream Machine" build with its pathetic 780Ti. Guess I'll be racking up the kills in BF4 on you Nvidia users. lol! Enjoy the low FPS.

Just wait till mantle. LOL. Then you Greenies will be crying as the red lava of AMD/ATI takes you down. The burn is already there with the cheap R9-290X slapping around the 780's like little candies, but it will be complete vaporization when mantle comes rolling around town.

December 21, 2013 | 07:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

.... Guess the writer of this article loves the money he is getting from the Green trolls!!

↑↑↑ You sir, are an idiot ↑↑↑

December 22, 2013 | 10:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For future guides, I still think it would be helpful for you to include a liquid cooling recommendation since they are almost mandatory these days. With so many choices, it is hard to know which coolers to choose from.

December 22, 2013 | 09:23 PM - Posted by brucek2

Cases and coolers may be subject to personal preference, but they are also potential sources of parts incompatibilities. For example, there are motherboard / RAM / cooler combinations that just won't physically fit for say lack of physical clearance above the RAM heat spreaders. For that reason its hard to put much faith in system recommendations you haven't built and can't guarantee even are buildable.

In addition to flat out incompabilities, there are also more subtle synergies or conflicts that can make one set of gear achieve much better or worse cooling & acoustic performance than another. These factors can be hard to predict ahead of time especially working just from spec sheets; it seems one of the critical things a build guide should do is check that a proposed set worked out in an unusually good way vs an unusually bad way.

December 31, 2013 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

A checklist for those kinds of specs might be a good idea, I'll think about that

January 3, 2014 | 08:40 AM - Posted by Jamrc (not verified)

Just listened to the last podcast...
How do you cat proof your computer?
And I mean that as a serious question, pulling cat hair out of everything is never fun.

I'm currently running an old case Thermaltake VA3003BWS and it's an excellent vacuum for cat hair.

Any suggestions would be welcomed from everyone!

January 3, 2014 | 03:15 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

I'm using an NZXT Hush, so the entire outside is coated in high density foam, including all the intakes for fans and on thr floor.  It works great at slowing the penetration of cat hair and the hair seems to prefer sticking to it, not the PCBs.

You could always try shaving the cat too.

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