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Your Top Picks: Tom's Hardware Forums' Q4 2013 BestConfigs

Your Top Picks: Tom's Hardware Forums' Q4 2013 BestConfigs
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Have you ever come up with your own idea for a killer rig? Don't forget to tell us about it on the Tom's Hardware forums. The following ten setups were configured by forum members and chosen as winners in the Q4 2013 BestConfigs Poll.

Every quarter, three of our editors (Paul Henningssen, Thomas Soderstrom, and Don Woligroski) build systems at certain price points in our System Builder Marathon. But what about the systems you configure?

Enter BestConfigs.

Over the past several years, we’ve periodically asked the community of readers on Tom's Hardware's forums to submit their own favorite builds for various intended usages. The ten current BestConfigs are:

  • AMD-Based Office PC @ $500
  • Intel-Based Office PC @ $500
  • Home Theatre PC @ $700
  • NAS PC @ $1000
  • Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC @ $1000
  • Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC @ $1000
  • Micro ATX Gaming PC @ $1200
  • High-End AMD-Based Gaming PC @ $2000
  • High-End Intel-Based Gaming PC @ $2000
  • High-End Workstation @ $4000

Each build must include every component needed for a complete system (processor, motherboard, memory, storage, power supply, and enclosure). Optional components like coolers, discrete graphics, SSDs, and optical drives are also included in a number of setups, though peripherals like monitors, keyboards, and mice are not.

Builds are submitted for consideration by our forum members. The community then votes on their favorites and narrows the field to configurations showcased here. From start to finish, these setups are the product of our readers, and we’re happy to shine a spotlight on your favorite picks.

Note that prices and availability may have changed since these builds were originally configured. Current prices can be found on the BestConfigs shopping pages.

With that out of the way, let’s check out this quarter’s winners. First we’ll take care of business with a couple of low-cost office PCs. Then we’ll kick back in the living room with an HTPC and NAS-oriented PC. Then it’s time to game with a duo of budget-minded gaming builds, a well-equipped mATX rig, and a pair of high-end gaming PCs. Topping it all off is the most exorbitant build of all, a professional workstation with a price ceiling of four grand!

Display 27 Comments.
Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    antemon , December 1, 2013 10:02 PM
    now I'll admit that I'm no expert, since I'm not in any way shape or form, but wtf?

    The office PC has a better GPU than the HTPC? Flashy case for office use. I get that the CX430 is used here since it's a solid PSU, but branded memory?

    1000USD for 'budget' gaming builds? you should at least aim to be a little closer to console prices since we're talking about budget gaming
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    SR-71 Blackbird , December 1, 2013 9:28 PM
    That's a nice budget build.
  • 28 Hide
    antemon , December 1, 2013 10:02 PM
    now I'll admit that I'm no expert, since I'm not in any way shape or form, but wtf?

    The office PC has a better GPU than the HTPC? Flashy case for office use. I get that the CX430 is used here since it's a solid PSU, but branded memory?

    1000USD for 'budget' gaming builds? you should at least aim to be a little closer to console prices since we're talking about budget gaming
  • 5 Hide
    Hutchinman , December 1, 2013 10:34 PM
    The total for the budget based AMD gaming system is wrong. There is no way in hell Amazon is selling the MSI Twin Frozr 7950 for $105.

    Your system mistakenly links the Amazon page for the MSI AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB. Fix your system Tom's.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , December 1, 2013 10:35 PM
    budget creep strikes again.

    Is it still a budget PC if it can max out every game you own at 1080p? if it costs a lot of money (relative to the gaming market) and places well in the top 10% of peers?
  • 1 Hide
    lancelot123 , December 2, 2013 12:35 AM
    What in the hell happened to the prices for the Intel Office PC? Says it was originally built for $500, but now it is saying $714. That is a HUGE difference. Not even sure what would be discounted, especially by that amount, unless the CPU was free.
  • 0 Hide
    Drejeck , December 2, 2013 3:01 AM
    Office PC like that impacts a lot on power consumption, assumed your office goes a lot away from just excel, java-browser administration tools, powerpoint and the likes. That AMD office build is more like a budget multimedia machine with gaming purpose. The HTPC obviously suffer from the case price and thus goes with a lower performance videocard.
    All builds underestimated SSDs and had just an HDD.
    Ok, I get this. There are a lot of hardware prejudices.
    DVD burners in 2013? From what country are you? I spent 4000 euros on my PC and the Asus BD usb3 I got came 6 months later...
  • 1 Hide
    Sangeet Khatri , December 2, 2013 4:11 AM
    In the Bugdet AMD Based Gaming PC. I would have the || Asrock Extreme 3 board + Corsair 300R + 128GB SSD with a 3GB 7970 || from my build as compared to the || Asrock Pro 3 + Rosewill Case + No SSD with 770 2GB ||

    Also most games now are starting to push more than 2GB VRAM. Hence this is where the extra 1GB RAM of the 7970 would be much more useful.

    Just an opinion..
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , December 2, 2013 4:38 AM
    MixroATX gaming section:
    40% people chose "AMD" Radeons build... wich happens to use.... an INTEL! :D .

    Toms is starting to be my favorite humor page.
  • 0 Hide
    bemused_fred , December 2, 2013 4:48 AM
    Quote:
    The total for the budget based AMD gaming system is wrong. There is no way in hell Amazon is selling the MSI Twin Frozr 7950 for $105.

    Your system mistakenly links the Amazon page for the MSI AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB. Fix your system Tom's.


    Ha ha! Now's my chance!

    Quote:

    Also most games now are starting to push more than 2GB VRAM. Hence this is where the extra 1GB RAM of the 7970 would be much more useful.


    [citation needed]

    2GB seemed to be fine for 2550x1600 in the gtx 770 review.

    'Grats on your entries, BTW!
  • 1 Hide
    Yuka , December 2, 2013 6:33 AM
    An office PC would rather have a discrete Video card than an SSD or some HDDs in RAID 0 or 1? For real?

    Other than that, pretty standard choices, which makes them good choices, I guess.

    Cheers!
  • 3 Hide
    Sangeet Khatri , December 2, 2013 7:10 AM
    The voters might have thought that there are a lot of OpenCL accelerated softwares, hence the 7770 might have some advantage there.

    But seriously speaking, there is 1 in a 100 office PC that would use OpenCL accelerated software. Most of them never go beyond Excel and connecting to the Internet or some Database software. So, 7770 is of no use there.

    I would have liked to see Jinayhvora's build win that one, but nevermind...
  • 2 Hide
    annihilatorg , December 2, 2013 12:56 PM
    The home theater system won't work. The MILO doesn't support full-height PCI cards and that sapphire card is full-height.
  • 0 Hide
    rwpritchett , December 2, 2013 2:18 PM
    Quote:
    The home theater system won't work. The MILO doesn't support full-height PCI cards and that sapphire card is full-height.

    The stock photo of the video card used by Tom's is not the model listed in the build. The build uses a low profile card that will fit in the MILO.

    On a side note, the home theater system forum member didn't get credit.

  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , December 2, 2013 3:16 PM
    Quote:
    An office PC would rather have a discrete Video card than an SSD or some HDDs in RAID 0 or 1? For real?

    Other than that, pretty standard choices, which makes them good choices, I guess.

    Cheers!


    Yeah I don't get that one at all. I'd use an AMD A10-6800K, a Samsung 840 Evo (which mine had), and a Bitfenix Prodigy Red (as a tribute to Milton's red stapler from the movie Office Space), also a Seasonic PSU.
  • 3 Hide
    anbello262 , December 2, 2013 8:29 PM
    On page 9, High-End AMD-Based Gaming PC, the writer didn't specify exactly which AMD processor is being used, it only says "the lowest-end FX chip out of the five contenders"
    If you can, specify that please (it IS actually pretty hard for me to look personally on the forum and linked threads, because I'm at the moment using only a 2001 PC, that's a 12 year old PC, so even browsing is hard ._.)
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , December 2, 2013 9:49 PM
    I wish i could have adjusted the 770's price to better compete with the 280X :( 

    But anyway, it's still a good build that got selected, congrats! :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Avro Arrow , December 3, 2013 6:55 AM
    Poor Rafeed. He committed sacrilege (nVidia in an AMD build?) and spent $1200 on graphics when as it turns out, he only got $800-worth (at most) in the end. What a crazy industry this is.
  • 1 Hide
    Maxime506 , December 3, 2013 7:32 AM
    The AMD Office PC looks like my gaming PC instead...(The only difference is that I am using a HD 6970 gfx) For me, if I put up an Office PC, athlon II 250 or celeron / pentium still exceed a little bit of my need. (I found out my laptop's celeron 1007U runs quite fast that's why)

    @anbello262, what's ur configuration of your 12-yr-old rig? I'm quite curious how slow it could be. For now I still have an 12-yr-old laptop which has a Pentium III CPU and 384MB RAM, but I feel it runs still OK (w/ XP SP3 OS)
  • 1 Hide
    Haravikk , December 3, 2013 8:49 AM
    Does the NAS box really need to cost so much? Three 3tb WD Red's costs about $450, you should be able to get everything else you need for less than that, even accounting for a premium PSU. For example, 12gb is mentioned as being easily more than the last build's 8gb, but did either build actually need that? IMO 1gb of RAM is plenty unless you're determined to run ZFS with de-duplication enabled, though personally I wouldn't. Any decent cheap CPU should be plenty for running ReadyNAS with software RAID which is more than adequate for a solid three-disk RAID-5 set.

    Also, I just don't see the benefit of the case; it's huge for what this machine is. If you were loading up on RAM for ZFS then why not go for a case with lots of external bays? A case with enough 5.25" bays can load hot-swappable back-planes, which would be ideal for expanding/repairing always-on storage, and would seem more reasonable for this kind of price point.

    I guess I'll just have to try to come up with my own offering for the next best configs result =)
  • 0 Hide
    Patrick Tobin , December 3, 2013 5:05 PM
    Getting kinda sick of not seeing any kind of OS on the configs...
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