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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Best Custom PC Builds For Gaming
10/19/2017 Update: removed the Q1 Best Builds & How-To Guides and replaced them with the Q3 picks.
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The PC market has been shifting more sporadically than it has in many years. AMD introduced its Ryzen CPUs at highly competitive prices. Intel responded by cutting prices on its Kaby Lake CPUs, and a battle the likes of which we haven't seen for nearly a decade has kicked off. At the same time, the GPU market was tossed into disarray due to a shortage caused by the resurgence of cryptocurrency mining.
In this update, all categories are only limited by budget. It should be noted, that these builds were assembled prior to the release of Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs, so they will not be present in this article. Further, Coffee Lake availability has been pretty tight. We'll create some new builds once that situation is more settled and we've reviewed more Coffee Lake SKUs.
The text accompanying each build below is provided by the forum member who designed it, giving you more insight into their system building process.
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Best $500 PC Build
“The G4560 is sold out ITX” - Built By: why_wolf
Sticking with my smaller is better mantra, I designed this build to be as small and cheap as possible. Though market forces worked against me on this, hence the build name. The SUGO is an excellent little boxy ITX case that's unassuming with a small foot print. While this guy won't win any performance contests it should provide a reliable every day computer with some light gaming on the side. It can also serve as a nice little HTPC that won't look horribly out of place under a TV as well.
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Best $750 PC Build
"AM" - Built By: g-unit1111
AMD's made ultra low budget affordable rigs viable again with the Ryzen platform which I am a huge supporter of, and one of my own rigs has an R7 in it. So the R5 is currently one of the best CPUs you can buy in the $200 range and it can hold its' own with Intel's i5. Unfortunately budget restraints and GPU price spikes prohibit me from adding nice extras like an SSD or 16GB of RAM. But for low budget gaming this is one of the best configurations you can possibly go with. Currently the GTX 1060 is the best GPU in this price range to go with. And the name is an ode to one of my favorite albums of the last couple of years, the Arctic Monkeys album "AM".
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Best $1,000 PC Build
"Summanus" - Built By: SR-71 Blackbird
To achieve a great balance of solid core performance and value I chose the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and the ASUS GTX 1070 8GB. I selected the ASRock A320M DGS Micro ATX motherboard because it's lower retail price would enable me to add a GTX1070 8GB and 16GB's of Team Vulcan DDR4 2400 memory . Storage choices were a Kingston A400 120GB SSD for a very responsive operating system and the Toshiba P300 1TB HDD for all other storage needs. Finally to power this balanced beast , I chose the rock solid SeaSonic M12II 520W Bronze EVO which is Fully Modular to keep the build nice and tidy. This setup is all housed inside the very affordable DIYPC Solo T1 R ATX Mid Tower Case which has two included RED LED 120mm fans for cooling and a front USB 3.0 port.
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Best $1,250 PC Build
“Cougar i7-7700K-1080” - Built By: Need4speeds
At $1250 you will want the fastest gaming CPU and GPU pair that you can fit into your build. It's also that hard price range to do since you must carefully select components to ensure the fastest FPS and lowest boot times possible while not skimping on important quality parts like the Seasonic S12II 620W. Not willing to ditch the M2 SSD and 1TB Seagate HDD combo the money is saved by going with a blower style GTX1080 that allows a budget case with limited cooling to work out. The now considered "Classic" i7-7700K gives you the fastest Quad core 8 thread speed money can buy and is famous for embarrassing much more expensive and higher wattage CPU's from both AMD and Intel.
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Best $1,500 PC Build
"Whew" - Built By: Blankcr8
It was hard getting this "no compromises" Ryzen 7 and 1080 Ti system together for under $1500. I included an aftermarket CPU cooler that runs quiet and cool at a low cost. For operational stability, I added 16GB of 3200mhz ram, a high quality overclockable motherboard, and a SSD for the OS. Rounding out the build is a high quality semi modular PSU and somewhat nice looking, yet affordable case.
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Best $2,000 PC Build
“Aces High” - Built By: shrapnel_indie
My build choices are simple: Quality, Balance, and Features. AMD currently offers the best bang for the buck in CPU capability, which means this machine will stream and let you play in high resolution with high frame rates. It offers super-fast booting with plenty of storage space for games, multimedia, and allow some room for development as well. It's all kept in a conservatively styled case that provides good airflow and will look good in an office as well wherever you play games. Liquid cooling and a decent abundance of extra power are on-tap as well for overclocking this rig for even more performance.
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Best $2,500 PC Build
“Disclosure. I'm not responsible for leaks" - Built By: XxD34THxX
So I took some of my inspiration from JayzTwoCents Adventures... the watercooling. At this price budget, aesthetics is a large piece of the build, as well as performance. In my Opinion, a proper loop is the best way to combine the two; Ultimate performance, being a step below liquid nitrogen, and the fact that you have water cooling a PC. CS-PC still makes some of the best looking blocks around, and a dark red/maroon is my favorite colour, leading to the theme. So basically, high end parts and high end cooling really make this type of budget fun to play with.
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