Best PC Builds

For over two decades Tom's Hardware has brought you news and reviews of the latest in PC hardware, while the famous forum has grown to more than 2 million members. Because of their expertise and the constant requests for help with PC builds, our members have developed a talent for finding the best prices and putting together the best system builds.

We received numerous submissions and enjoyed examining all of your PC builds, but we could ultimately only select one system per price range - thanks to the readers and forum members who participated! As always, feel free to quibble in the comments, and submit your own ideas next time around.

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July 2017 Updates

These new PC builds were spurred on by the release of Intel’s Kaby Lake CPU and the corresponding 200-Series motherboards. These builds were compiled before the release of AMD’s Ryzen CPUs, 300-Series motherboards, and Nvidia’s new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, so you won’t see those show up in any of the systems below. Stay tuned.

In this update, we've also transitioned away from specialized build categories. Nor are we limiting builds by form factor or use case. Instead all categories are only limited by budget. The text accompanying each build is provided by forum member who designed it, giving you more insight into their system building process.

What's more, we've actually purchased the components for each of this quarter's 7 best builds (excluding the unlimited budget build). We're also creating how-to guides for each build. Once assembled, we run a handful of our standard productivity, synthetic, and gaming benchmarks to see what each budget can do.

Best Custom PC Builds for Gaming

7/13/17 Update: added how-to guides for the best $1,000 and best $1,250 builds on pages 4 and 5 (respectively).

Best $500 PC Build

I can ITX anything you can ATX
Case Fractal Design Node 202 ($139.99 On Newegg)
CPU Intel Core i3-7100 ($119.99 On Amazon)
Graphics Asus Radeon RX 460 2GB OC Edition ($89.99 On Newegg)
Memory Crucial CT8G4DFS8213 8GB DDR4 RAM ($56.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard ASRock H110M-ITX/ac ($71.99 On Newegg)
Storage WD Blue 750GB Mobile HDD ($49.99 On Newegg)

"This build was based around trying to get a console sized PC. This case is around the same size as the original Xbox One if you include the power brick. Since this size of case requires an SFX PSU it made sense to go with this case as it includes one [a PSU] for a price you can't beat buying them separately. The main compromise point is what CPU to use: either an i3 or Pentium G4560. I opted for the stronger CPU to provide a solid foundation on which someone can just plug in a stronger GPU later as opposed to having to completely rebuild the PC. In that spirit, I also opted for just a single stick of RAM so the user can upgrade to a full 16 GB later." -Why_Wolf

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Best $750 PC Build

Lava Stream
Case Zalman Z3 ATX Case ($34.99 On Newegg)
Cooling Deepcool Gammaxx 200T CPU Cooler ($14.99 On Newegg)
CPU Intel Core i5-7600K ($239.99 On Amazon)
Graphics MSI Radeon RX 480 Armor 8G OC ($219.99 On Newegg)
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 8GB (2x4GB) F4-2800C15D-8GVRB ($60.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z270P-D3 ($108.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply SeaSonic S12II 520 ($66.33 On Newegg)
Storage Western Digital RE4 1TB WD1003FBYX ($38.00 On Amazon)

"With my Lava Stream setup, I wanted to pack as much performance per dollar as possible without sacrificing on the quality of the core components. I chose a Z270 board and a 7600K CPU, so that the total performance could be maximized with some overclocking ability and superior dual channel memory speeds from the 2x4 2800mhz GSkill Ripjaws V modules. The choice of the MSI Radeon RX480 8GB was an easy choice because of the great horsepower and first rate cooling you get for your money invested. I decided to go with a cheaper, but decent case and a standard 1TB HDD, to enable the purchasing of the other higher quality build components. The choice of the Seasonic power supply was a no-brainer, because excellent hardware needs a high-quality power source, to ensure smooth operation." -SR-71 Blackbird

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Best $1,000 PC Build

Provost's Pick
Case Zalman T2 Plus ($34.99 On Newegg)
CPU Intel Core i5-7500 ($199.99 On Newegg)
Graphics Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 Mini 8GB GDDR5 ($374.99 On Amazon)
Memory Mushkin Enhanced Backline 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 RAM ($122.70 On Newegg)
Motherboard ASRock B250M Pro4 ($73.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G2 220-G2-0550-Y1 ($89.99 On Newegg)
Storage Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 480GB TRN150-25SAT3-480G ($144.99 On Amazon)

"I'm more of a super low budget gaming expert, and with $1000 I knew I could put one of the higher end graphics cards in the machine for ultra QHD gaming. I picked the power supply first. To power a high-end graphics card, you want a very solid 50°C rated unit, and the LEADEX platform is one we all trust. The 550W G2 fits these considerations. I recycled the same budget case from my low budget builds as a placeholder, but it ended up staying in the build because I was reaching the budget cap. The Zalman T2 looks decent enough to hold everything and is better than a shoe box. To fit in the small case, I chose one of the smaller high end graphics cards, the Zotac GTX 1070 mini. I compromised between speed and capacity when choosing the SSD. The cloud has made slow hard drives obsolete even for bulk media storage. The only question was more room for games, or get something faster like a Samsung 960. I decided I would rather the higher capacity and settled on a standard TLC drive that is fast enough and comes with Toshiba's advanced replacement warranty: the OCZ Trion 150. Lastly I needed a platform to push all of this. I went with Kaby Lake i5 and 16GB RAM. The CPU cannot be overclocked but it does turbo boost, and comes with a stock cooler. It should push game engines quite well in QHD." -Damric

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Best $1,250 PC Build

Gamer's Delight
Case Cooler Master N400 NSE-400-KKN2 ($49.99 On Newegg)
Cooling Cryorig H5 Ultimate CR-H5B ($46.99 On Amazon)
CPU Intel Core i5-7600K ($239.99 On Amazon)
Graphics Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming 8GB ($449.99 On Newegg)
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) F4-3200C16D-16GVKB ($109.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z270XP-SLI ($139.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply SeaSonic G Series SSR-550RM ($69.30 On Newegg)
Storage Crucial MX300 M.2 2280 275GB ($94.99 On Newegg)
Storage WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX ($54.99 On Newegg)

"This is a computer built with a non-compromise to quality while delivering the most performance within the given budget. In that perspective, the PSU was chosen for its history of providing clean power without risking the computer. The CPU was chosen mainly because it is Intel's latest and greatest i5 CPU, and Cryorig was chosen as the cooler for its known target of performance as well. This was a balancing act, and while I would have liked to drop an i7 in as the CPU, I didn't want to sacrifice graphics at 1440p to do it. The case was chosen for its ability to look at home in a more reserved environment and to let the components shine. One of the other things I would have liked to do was to put a larger SSD in, but to keep on budget and offer plenty of space for storage, this SSD was chosen. 16GB of RAM was chosen to allow games that preferred more than 8GB to stretch their legs with the CPU and GPU. It's a delightful system for a gamer because it can be pushed and it won't choke."-Shrapnel_Indie

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Best $1,500 PC Build

Lobotomy
Case MasterBox 5 ($69.99 On Newegg)
Cooling Deepcool Gammaxx 400 ($24.99 On Newegg)
CPU Intel Core i7-6800K ($404.99 On Amazon)
Graphics Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 AMP! Edition ZT-P10800C-10P ($549.99 On Newegg)
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) F4-2666C15D-16GVB ($99.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard ASRock X99 Extreme4 ($170.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G2 220-G2-0550-Y1 ($89.99 On Newegg)
Storage SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB SDSSDA-120G-G26 ($49.99 On Amazon)
Storage WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX ($54.99 On Newegg)

"With my Lobotomy build submission, I wanted it to scream QUALITY from top to bottom. To make the build stand out and scream top tier performance, I jumped to the X99 platform and paired an ASrock X99 Extreme 4 with the flame throwing 6 core/12 threads i7 6800k. My next move was to add the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 8GB AMP! Edition Graphics Card and 16GB of 2666 MHz GSkill Ripjaws V [DRAM] Series to enable this setup to hammer the competition. Booting this setup into Windows will be a breeze with the Sandisk PLUS 120GB SSD drive. The very dependable WD Caviar BLUE 7200RPM 1TB HDD was added for additional storage. To keep the 6800k nice and cool, the budget, but very capable Deepcool Gammaxx 400 was inserted into the fray. I wanted a well-built case to house the X99 beast, so I added the budget friendly but excellent quality Cooler Master MasterBox 5. Finally, to keep this build running smooth, I added the High Quality EVGA 650W GS PSU made by Seasonic." -SR-71 Blackbird

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Best $2,000 PC Build

i7-7700K GTX1080 SLI Build
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R (CC-9011023-WW) ($58.99 On Amazon)
Cooling Cryorig H7 ($34.99 On Amazon)
CPU Intel Core i7-7700K ($349.99 On Newegg)
Graphics Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 AMP! Edition ZT-P10800C-10P ($549.99 On Newegg)
Graphics Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 AMP! Edition ZT-P10800C-10P ($549.99 On Newegg)
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) F4-2666C15D-16GVB ($99.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z270XP-SLI ($139.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply EVGA 750 GQ 210-GQ-0750-V1 ($89.99 On Newegg)
Storage Mushkin Enhanced Triactor (240GB) ($89.99 On Newegg)
Storage WD Caviar Blue WD10EZEX ($54.99 On Newegg)

"With an i7-7700K Kaby Lake CPU and two GTX1080 Pascal GPUs in SLI this PC is a powerhouse of gaming which can satisfy the requirements of all the games thrown at it, even at 4K. Even if one decides to game at lower resolution like 1440p or 1080p this PC will be able satisfy their requirements for a longer period of time. Even with two GTX1080s included, the build comes with high quality components and without any compromises. With the EVGA GQ 750W PSU that PC is safe to run even under load with CPU and GPUs overclocked." -King Dranzer

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Best $2,500 PC Build

The Glass House
Case Lian Li PC-O8WX ($299.99 On Newegg)
Cooling Cryorig H5 Universal CR-H5A ($46.99 On Amazon)
CPU Intel Core i7-7700K ($349.99 On Newegg)
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 SC Gaming ACX 3.0 08G-P4-6183-KR ($519.99 On Newegg)
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 SC Gaming ACX 3.0 08G-P4-6183-KR ($519.99 On Newegg)
Memory G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) F4-2800C16D-16GVG ($111.99 On Newegg)
Motherboard MSI Z270 Gaming M5 ($189.99 On Newegg)
Power Supply EVGA SuperNova 850 G2 220-G2-0850-XR ($109.89 On Amazon)
Storage Crucial MX300 525GB CT525MX300SSD4 ($149.99 On Newegg)

"I chose this build because I love the tempered glass look of Lian Li's PC-08B. The downside of the tempered glass case is the extremely high cost. I had considered using other cases including my trusty go-to Phanteks Enthoo Luxe with RGB lighting. But the Lian Li is a real standout in this field. One of the biggest challenges was being able to use this case along with a top of the line i7 CPU and a dual GTX 1080 setup and still be able to come in under the $2500 budget. Where the challenges lie are that I usually try to include some form of mass storage, but also wanted the ridiculously fast speeds that an M2 drive provides. But again, the high cost means that something had to be eliminated. So therefore, the mechanical drive goes. The other sacrifice I had to make was coming up with a processor cooler that wasn't quite a liquid cooler, but not quite a gigantic dual tower air cooler like the Noctua D15. I would love to use a CLL like the Cryorig A40 but again the challenges of meeting a strict $2500 prevented me from doing that. So, I chose the Cryorig H5 as a good medium between using a giant air cooler and a closed liquid loop." -G-Unit1111

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Best Unlimited Budget PC Build

Ultimate Versatility Compute/Visualization Workstation 1.26.17
Case Supermicro SYS-7048GR-TR ($1,868.02 On Amazon)
CPU Intel Xeon E5-2673 V4 ($4,273.93 On Amazon)
Graphics PNY Quadro P6000 VCQP6000-PB ($4,899.00 On Newegg)
Memory Samsung 32GB M393A4K40BB1-CRC ($314.99 On Newegg)
Storage Samsung 960 PRO Series 2TB (MZ-V6P2T0BW) ($1,299.99 On Amazon)
Storage Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB ST4000NM0023 ($189.99 On Newegg)
Storage LG Black 16X Blu-Ray BDXL BH16NS40 ($79.99 On Newegg)
Storage LSI MegaRAID LSI00332 (9286-8e) ($730.55 On Newegg)
Storage Angelbird Wings PX1 ($74.99 On Amazon)

"A very versatile workstation that is also high performance is difficult- and expensive. The data processing requires high calculation density and efficient threading distribution, followed by high speed, high bandwidth memory and disk subsystems.  As a proprietary system, the cost would be nearer $50,000. Similar systems using a smaller version Supermicro Superworkstation SYS-7048A-T is possible for about $23,000. From HP or Dell it would cost over $30,000.

The CPU is a difficult choice given that the more cores the lower the clock speed, but the Xeon E5-2673 v4 20-core has a healthy 3.6GHz on the first two cores for a very good single-threaded performance and the all-core rate of 3.1GHz maintains a high-rate multi-threaded data stream that can benefit from a large amount of RAM.

GPUs today have substantial calculation density so the system integrating four GPUs will have a very high capability in the most demanding analytical and simulation applications. The GPU specification of this system can probably be improved by following the single Quadro P6000 driving the displays with three Tesla Pascal coprocessors, either P40 or P100.

The Supermicro X10DRG-Q motherboard is of a proprietary size to accommodate four double-height GPUs without covering the other PCIe slots, plus the volume of air required to cool the GPUs, the requirement for a substantial number of drives, and the need for this kind of system to operate quietly, meant that the Supermicro SuperWorkstation SYS-7048GR-TR is the ideal case/chassis for the system. It’s also convenient in that the user need only mount the CPUs, plug in the RAM, GPUs, and drives, saving substantial assembly, wiring, and configuration time." -Bambiboom

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Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
52 comments
    Your comment
  • adamovera
    0
  • SBMfromLA
    So adding the O/S, Keyboard & Mouse should increase each built by around $150.
    0
  • Bmoondog
    I realize that you did not include AMD but this review is like reading the paper on my front porch to get the news. Water of time.
    0
  • jnkweaver
    Your $1500 build is over $2400
    0
  • Steve_104
    So wait Ryzen has been out since the end of March, this is July.

    Guess this is not news, but olds?

    If Ryzen wasn't available when you did this this is not timely or relevant, being over three months old and all.
    3
  • Ncogneto
    July 2017 Updates = Fake News
    1
  • Busdriver1871
    What an absolutely worthless article... No Ryzen for a JULY article, a $1000 rig in the $750 slot, an i5 6500 in a ONE THOUSAND dollar machine... The list goes on.
    4
  • Gutiari
    This article is ridiculous! Tomshardware, this article just damaged your reputation as a trusted resource for hardware with the exclusion of AMD, amongst other issues. I don't know who your editor/publisher were on this article, but I would seriously sit down with them and for the immediate future, not let them publish anything without oversight and approval. As of this moment, Tomshardware should be knowm throughout the community as being biased towards Intel, as well as a lack of accuracy for cost, and best build advice.

    In summary: Bad job you wankers.
    -2
  • Jack_Burton
    TomsIntelware strikes again.
    0
  • jwesley
    Was this sponsored by Intel?
    2
  • falchard
    It would be difficult to do a best build right now with GPU pricing.
    1
  • why_wolf
    Again since it seems many people can't read. These builds were created before AM4 finally dropped and even more so before the cryptocoin GPU shortage. However I do agree that doing these test so long (nearly half a year) after the original quarterly design contest ended really doesn't help anyone trying to do a build right now. I think it would best to abandon the real world build and test part unless Toms can get it scheduled to occur much sooner than this.
    -1
  • Ryan Brodrecht
    this is ridiculous... no m.2 pcie ssd in the top end? huh? no ryzen? Tom's has gone down hill these past few years.
    1
  • FritzEiv
    Oh my. OK, before we get too far down the road of conspiracy theory here, let me apologize for the misunderstanding about our intentions here, how the Best PC Builds works, and why we're a little behind. Regardless, I hear you on the criticism and the optics of this.

    First, these were builds from Q1, pre-Ryzen. They turned out to be pretty popular, looking at the traffic. In an attempt to go a little bit further, especially trying to help new PC builders, we made the decision to purchase 7 of these builds, build them, test them, write about them in greater detail, and then give them away. Purchasing, and sorting through, and correcting some of the orders took some time; stuff broke; building them amid a volume of trade shows and juggled in with a variety of other priorities also took more time than we expected. And then taking (literally) thousands of pictures to document the builds, doing the write-ups, benchmarking, and configuring the format within our publishing system also took quite some time. I'm not asking for your sympathy here, by the way. It's our job.

    Now all of the writing and testing has been done, and we've got the first two build how-tos ready to publish; that happened today, obviously. THAT is the "July" update. And probably where the confusion on this is. We're just adding the how-to writeups. And we'll continue with the next five. These are actually almost done and ready for editing and formatting, so I think they'll move much quicker.

    And then I promise we'll provide even more builds (opening up the process again) that will be up to date, so that Ryzen and other components (newer, better) can be added. By the way, one critique we got last time is that when we published a brand-new Best PC Builds, we removed all of the old ones. So we also didn't want to willy-nilly just keep updating them each quarter. However, you're right -- much has happened since Q1. Much still remains (like Vega). Picking that right point to make the change is always shooting at a moving target.

    Finally: These picks are proposed BY the Tom's Hardware community, And then voted on by the Tom's Hardware community. Editorially, the only thing we do is ensure that there are no incompatibilities -- PSU wise, fitment wise, etc. So -- Ryzen aside -- if there are modern components missing, all I can say is that these are YOUR best PC Builds, so make your proposal next round and vote.

    However, I'll own the timing of this, and I'll own the criticism. But I assure you there's nothing nefarious here. Just bad communication. Your points are fair (except the wanker part), and I'll think of some ways we might quickly remedy this in the meantime.
    3
  • DPayer
    Thank you Fritz. Some of us need to take a big chill pill and slow our roll. My opinion of Tom's has not wavered. My opinion of those who are in a caffeine overdose has. Most of the info here seems valid, IMHO. Granted I'm not the type who needs bleeding edge tech. (How long can you stay on the bleeding edge anyway?) I found the guidance here worth the read. Given all the caveats.
    0
  • Ncogneto
    With all due respect, the article opens with this:

    "For over two decades Tom's Hardware has brought you news and reviews of the latest in PC hardware, while the famous forum has grown to more than 2 million members.

    When you title an article July updates it implies the article was updated to include current hardware considerations, not the speed (or lack thereof) of which Tom's has been able to publish an article. In a field in which technology can evolve so fast, taking 6 months to publish results renders them all but meaningless.
    3
  • FritzEiv
    Anonymous said:
    With all due respect, the article opens with this:

    "For over two decades Tom's Hardware has brought you news and reviews of the latest in PC hardware, while the famous forum has grown to more than 2 million members.

    When you title an article July updates it implies the article was updated to include current hardware considerations, not the speed (or lack thereof) of which Tom's has been able to publish an article. In a field in which technology can evolve so fast, taking 6 months to publish results renders them all but meaningless.


    Again, I hear you. Point taken.

    We're not trying to pass these off as results. The updates are the how to guides on the pages that follow. Would it be less confusing if I removed the word "July?" Remove other offending words? All of these parts are still available and viable for PC Builds. People were reading this article AND buying the parts the day before we published this (and still are).

    Be constructive with suggestions here. Floggings are fine and all, but at some point it's just piling on.
    1
  • Ncogneto
    Again, I hear you. Point taken.

    Quote:
    We're not trying to pass these off as results. The updates are the how to guides on the pages that follow. Would it be less confusing if I removed the word "July?" Remove other offending words? All of these parts are still available and viable for PC Builds. People were reading this article AND buying the parts the day before we published this (and still are).

    Be constructive with suggestions here. Floggings are fine and all, but at some point it's just piling on.


    You must understand that a lot of the people are going to casually browse the content and skip right to the meat of the article. Navigation from the front page "best PC builds" on to the article with July 2017 updates in bold, then straight to the systems. Much too easy to miss the one line clarifying that it predates the release of the Ryzen, 1080ti, price increases, etc. An article posting that has BEST PC builds dated july2, implies just that. Best fix is to retitle your article
    0
  • Ncogneto
    Quote:
    People were reading this article AND buying the parts the day before we published this (and still are).


    And that is a good thing? Not that the systems they would build would be bad, but would they be the best, as the title implies?
    0
  • Ncogneto
    One final word, rediscovered Tom's after being dormant in the PC world for almost a decade. We hold you to a higher standard, and that is not a bad thing.......
    0