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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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  • shrapnel_indie
    Anonymous said:
    Here are nine gaming PC builds that are recommended by the Tom’s Hardware community. These builds range from $500 to $2,500 and include three VR-ready systems.

    Best PC Builds : Read more


    Just for clarification: is this for the 2017 Q1 builds or the 2017 Q3 builds? It links to the 2017 Q1 builds.
    0
  • why_wolf
    I think it's just an error. The main page hasn't posted the results yet either. I'm guessing they meant to post this once the results were in but hit post to soon.
    0
  • Karadjgne
    Or decided to consolidate the posts, since this article clearly shows the winning results. Since the builds have lengthy commentary, which wasn't in the original build posting, the winners have known for a few minutes that their build was chosen, but asked not to reveal that info. Which is cool, I like surprises.
    Considering all that the mods go through on a daily basis just keeping a lid on posters etc (say big thank you or this forum would quickly resemble reddit!) a shortcut here and there is more than understandable.
    0
  • eldrome
    How is this $750? Am I missing something?
    0
  • Karadjgne
    What probably wasn't explained too well is that prices change. Invariably you'll get builds that at the time came in at a hairs breadth under budget cap, but a change in pricing could very well change all that in a matter of hours. Newegg setting something like the Seasonic 520w S12-II for $40 might only have been an overstock clearance, going back to regular $50 at the turn of the month. If you look on pcpartpicker.com at the pricing graphs, there's some items that'll drop as much as $50 for a month, then bump up passed the starting price. All this adds up to a starting $750 (at time of build) build, that can cost $800 at today's prices.
    0
  • Dugimodo
    Yes but if you click on the $750 build and add up the listed prices it comes to nearer to $1200 - bit more than a price change error.
    Does it link to the wrong build or are we not supposed to count half the components?
    0
  • Karadjgne
    Look at the $1000 build. The Zotac mini 1070 is priced now at Amazon for $998 and change. As I said, those prices do not reflect the prices at the time of the build. At that time, the $750 build was squeaked in at just under $750. Changes in prices have since doubled in some cases. There's also errors in thinking, because there's simply no way a 1070 mini from Zotac will ever be $999, but that's the advertised price at Amazon at the time of the link.
    https://www.amazon.com/GeForce-Compact-Graphics-ZT-P10700G-10M-Virtual/dp/B072FH22T6?tag=bom_tomshardware-20&ascsubtag=THUS23671508094342529&SubscriptionId=AKIAJLYKPRLXUSF4GDIQ&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953
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  • why_wolf
    Congrats to the other winners.
    0
  • shrapnel_indie
    Anonymous said:
    Congrats to the other winners.


    I was going to say something because it was pointing to the Q1 stuff, and about stating winners early... but... I can see that it has been updated to the Q3 builds. so... I'll join you in that same statement:


    Congrats to the other winners.
    0
  • why_wolf
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Congrats to the other winners.


    I was going to say something because it was pointing to the Q1 stuff, and about stating winners early... but... I can see that it has been updated to the Q3 builds. so... I'll join you in that same statement:


    Congrats to the other winners.


    yeah the comments are confusing now since we we're all arguing about why the link originally went to last quarter.
    0
  • Lucky_SLS
    Congrats to the winners!
    0
  • keith12
    Am I missing something here, or rather seeing something!? In the 2000 build, you have a fractal design cpu cooler (which looks nice by the way), and then a 1700x bundle for 429 with a Corsair H110!? Drop the price of that spec and drop one of the two liquid coolers!!

    edit: same with the 2500 build. Seriously!! Who checks this stuff? great builds.......
    0
  • shrapnel_indie
    Anonymous said:
    Am I missing something here, or rather seeing something!? In the 2000 build, you have a fractal design cpu cooler (which looks nice by the way), and then a 1700x bundle for 429 with a Corsair H110!? Drop the price of that spec and drop one of the two liquid coolers!!

    edit: same with the 2500 build. Seriously!! Who checks this stuff? great builds.......



    It has to be in the Tom's links then. There was no Ryzen 1700x - Corsair H110 bundle in the build. Tom's has had issues like that pop up before. There is only the one AiO: the Fractal Design cooler.

    Original pcpartpicker.com link: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/ZgzjTH
    Original Tom's Link: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3502686/builds-2017-000-budget-category.html#20099290


    [EDIT] Prices/availability of parts have changed since the lists were assembled and hit their submission deadline.

    [EDIT 2] Corrected direct PCPP link to build.
    1
  • ibjeepr
    Congratulations to the winners!
    0
  • Karadjgne
    It's all dependent on the builders taste, not just about maximum performance squeezed into a certain budget. In the $2000 class was also a full custom loop paired with a 7700k and 1080. That's a great setup for 1440p gaming, without sacrificing just to squeeze in a sli. Would have looked awesome, possibly, when finished but the builder didn't name the build, so the vote didn't register it. I would have voted for that based on originality alone, as I did for the Lian-Li build. Not the best performance, but a killer lookin build that'll do the job nicely.

    The 7700k does run hot, especially under full core loads and higher vcore and the big liquid coolers have the one thing no current aircooler can touch, the highest TDP ratings. So AIO's in a max performance setup make a lot of sense, especially on something like a 2011-3 setup where ram channels on the back side seriously compromise aircooler mounting.
    0
  • lorfa
    ..but aren't these all +$100 for the OS
    0
  • Karadjgne
    No. OS is precluded as it's for the build. OS is software, and subject to choices, whomever has a pc isn't guaranteed to use windows at @$100, or win pro at @$140 or freeware Linux. It'd even be possible to hackintosh more than a few. So OS is kinda subjective. There's also no guarantee that any owner will have to pay even $100 for windows, personally my copy of Win7Pro cost me $10, my wife works for the Govt.
    0
  • FritzEiv
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Am I missing something here, or rather seeing something!? In the 2000 build, you have a fractal design cpu cooler (which looks nice by the way), and then a 1700x bundle for 429 with a Corsair H110!? Drop the price of that spec and drop one of the two liquid coolers!!

    edit: same with the 2500 build. Seriously!! Who checks this stuff? great builds.......



    It has to be in the Tom's links then. There was no Ryzen 1700x - Corsair H110 bundle in the build. Tom's has had issues like that pop up before. There is only the one AiO: the Fractal Design cooler.

    Original pcpartpicker.com link: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/WC9nzM
    Original Tom's Link: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3502686/builds-2017-000-budget-category.html#20099290


    [EDIT] Prices/availability of parts have changed since the lists were assembled and hit their submission deadline.


    Yes. For some reason our pricing system wants to present these 1700X/Cooler bundles. We keep fixing these as we see them. Thanks for pointing it out. It's like playing whack-a-mole. (And yes, prices have changed since the original submissions.)
    1
  • Matt_550
    My only question is why a slow SSD on a $2,500 build? The M2 Evo 960 is still King of the hill... No idea why you'd handicap your build at that price point.
    -2
  • ibjeepr
    Anonymous said:
    My only question is why a slow SSD on a $2,500 build? The M2 Evo 960 is still King of the hill... No idea why you'd handicap your build at that price point.


    The winning $750 build was running only an HDD, no SSD at all. To me that's unacceptable at any price point.
    Everyone's priorities will be a little different.
    0