Your Top Picks: Tom's Hardware Forums' Q1 2013 BestConfigs

So you like our System Builder Marathon? 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 in Q1 2013 BestConfigs Poll.

Two weeks ago, we brought you our first System Builder Marathon of 2013. In the Marathon, three of our editors, Thomas Soderstrom, Don Woligroski, and Paul Henningsen, configured a handful of systems at set price points. Remember that's we're giving those boxes away. If you haven't yet entered to win one of them, check out the last piece in the series, System Builder Marathon, Q1 2013: $1,600 Alternative PC

But what about the systems that you'd 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 Home Office PC
  • Intel-Based Home Office PC
  • High-End Workstation
  • Home Theatre PC
  • Home NAS Server
  • Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC
  • Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC
  • LAN Party PC
  • High-End AMD-Based Gaming PC
  • High-End Intel-Based Gaming PC


Each build must include every component needed for a completed box (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. Prices and availability may have changed since these builds were originally configured. Current prices can be found on the BestConfigs shopping pages.

Alright, first let’s take care of business with a couple of low-cost home office PCs, followed by a high-end workstation. Next, kick back in the living room with an HTPC and home NAS. Then it’s game time with AMD- and Intel-based budget and high-end gaming systems, along with a well-equipped mATX rig for the LAN party-goers among us.

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  • nordlead
    A good thing I don't use these "forum best configs" as guides. It looks like every single one of them was built by a power hungry gamer rather than an economical engineer that builds to meet specific requirements.

    The NAS chosen here has WAY to much space dedicated to the OS drive (driving up costs), and all the benefits of the SSD are lost (you won't be loading new programs off the SSD) except for the low power. But that can be achieved for much less cash with a CF or SD card (or even a USB stick, but I don't care for those since they can easily be unplugged). You also don't need 4GB of RAM in a NAS, nor do you need a fancy case with a window when it will be stuck in a closet. I could shave $150-200 off of that machine no problem and cut the electrical costs, all while serving files via NAS to multiple machines at the same time without missing a beat. Heck, my Atom D525 does all of that at a measly 30W (measured at the wall) along with online backups, and serves web pages at a decent clip for myself and my close friends. Since I'm sure the intent of the 3x 3TB hdds was for RAID 5, you could put that $ towards a 4th and do RAID 10. Or you could put it towards actual backup instead of redundancy.
    11
  • echondo
    That is not a "budget" AMD system...
    11
  • internetlad
    nevertellWhy do all the builds use poser ram ?


    And what RAM would you suggest, Mr. RAM Expert? What's wrong with brands like Mushkin and G.Skill? They're incredibly popular.

    Honestly, does brand even make a difference in RAM besides warranty? You put it in and it works or it doesn't. As long as you have enough RAM to accomodate what's running, and it doesn't BSOD, I don't really care about the brand.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • k1114
    Congrats to everyone!
    4
  • echondo
    That is not a "budget" AMD system...
    11
  • EzioAs
    Anonymous said:
    That is not a "budget" AMD system...


    Still within a certain budget. Just not on the lower side for a gaming PC.
    -2
  • nevertell
    Why do all the builds use poser ram ?
    -7
  • nordlead
    A good thing I don't use these "forum best configs" as guides. It looks like every single one of them was built by a power hungry gamer rather than an economical engineer that builds to meet specific requirements.

    The NAS chosen here has WAY to much space dedicated to the OS drive (driving up costs), and all the benefits of the SSD are lost (you won't be loading new programs off the SSD) except for the low power. But that can be achieved for much less cash with a CF or SD card (or even a USB stick, but I don't care for those since they can easily be unplugged). You also don't need 4GB of RAM in a NAS, nor do you need a fancy case with a window when it will be stuck in a closet. I could shave $150-200 off of that machine no problem and cut the electrical costs, all while serving files via NAS to multiple machines at the same time without missing a beat. Heck, my Atom D525 does all of that at a measly 30W (measured at the wall) along with online backups, and serves web pages at a decent clip for myself and my close friends. Since I'm sure the intent of the 3x 3TB hdds was for RAID 5, you could put that $ towards a 4th and do RAID 10. Or you could put it towards actual backup instead of redundancy.
    11
  • samwelaye
    budget AMD gamer: 1000$. budget intel gamer: 500$. wth is going on here. sure 1000 IS a budget by the definition of it, but this is by no means a "budget" build
    7
  • internetlad
    nevertellWhy do all the builds use poser ram ?


    And what RAM would you suggest, Mr. RAM Expert? What's wrong with brands like Mushkin and G.Skill? They're incredibly popular.

    Honestly, does brand even make a difference in RAM besides warranty? You put it in and it works or it doesn't. As long as you have enough RAM to accomodate what's running, and it doesn't BSOD, I don't really care about the brand.
    10
  • s3anister
    Interesting builds and over all decent. Can't say I agree with the choice of Motherboard and PSU for the High-End Intel build, though. Would have gone with the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH or a similar Asus mobo and a Seasonic PSU myself.
    0
  • g-unit1111
    The name of my AMD Office PC was a quote from Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. "Yeah I'm gonna have to ask you to work on Saturday, Sunday too. We lost a lot of people over the weekend and we need to play sort of catch - up. If you could get here around 9:00, that'd be greaaaaaaaaaaaat."
    3
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Why would you use the 5800k over the 65w 5700 for a mere office machine? Not to mention the mobo chosen for it has no VRM heatsinks and therefore cannot reliably overclock anyway, making the aftermarket cooler pointless in the first place.
    4
  • internetlad
    Nintendo Maniac 64Why would you use the 5800k over the 65w 5700 for a mere office machine? Not to mention the mobo chosen for it has no VRM heatsinks and therefore cannot reliably overclock anyway, making the aftermarket cooler pointless in the first place.


    You have to remember this is the build that was VOTED FOR by the community. Of course the better chip is gonna get the fanboys all wet, even though, as you say, it IS for an office build.

    I quoted an extremely capable AMD office/APU gaming machine and managed to shave 150 bucks off the $500 budget, (I had spent a couple days researching it for my brother in law, who's wife wouldn't let him spend much.) and it didn't get one vote. Why? Maybe because it didn't have 3 terabyte drives, or 16 gigs of ram. It was a modest but extremely functional and cost effective machine for the cost, and nobody seemed to care.
    2
  • silverblue
    From what I've seen, the 5700 is the better chip, at least in terms of HTPCs. Sure, it's a few percent slower than the 5800K, but it's far better on power.
    1
  • nevertell
    internetladAnd what RAM would you suggest, Mr. RAM Expert? What's wrong with brands like Mushkin and G.Skill? They're incredibly popular.Honestly, does brand even make a difference in RAM besides warranty? You put it in and it works or it doesn't. As long as you have enough RAM to accomodate what's running, and it doesn't BSOD, I don't really care about the brand.

    Well, it's a rule of thumb that RAM without heatspreaders comes cheaper. And it's been proven time and time again, that those heatspreaders don't benefit the regular computer in any kind of way. If you're on a budget, ram is the first place to compromise, if you've already chosen something with heatspreaders and whatnot and you won't be using cpu's integrated graphics. It's only the iGPU's of todays A-series APUs that truly benefit from substantially faster RAM in any meaningul way.
    1
  • hapkido
    Anonymous said:
    So no benchmarks just a popularity contest ? Next time just post pics and stats of the girls that is something to vote on. May seem harsh but anyone can pull parts out of a catalog. assembling and getting it running optimally is what separates the wheat from the chaff.


    These were hypothetical builds. And assembling a PC is much easier than picking the right components. But if you want to buy me the parts from my media PC build, I'll benchmark it playing a video or something.
    0
  • JerryC
    These systems arent really complete. You need to include a monitor, keyboard and mouse to complete these systems.
    0
  • g-unit1111
    Anonymous said:
    These systems arent really complete. You need to include a monitor, keyboard and mouse to complete these systems.


    The rules were you had to create a system with the given budget, and keyboard, mouse, monitor, and OS were not included in the budget.
    1
  • jnkweaver
    The LAN system is more in line with the AMD budget build. Both in the $1200-1300 range.
    I own the ARC MIDI case and Fractal Design uses thick steel. I love Fractal Design cases but good luck hauling it around on LAN parties when the case alone weighs 20 lbs.

    I was surprised the high end Intel build didn't use the Noctua DH14 for the cooler. On a $2200 build it is worth spending the extra $70.

    Overall they were good builds and got alot of participation. It does seem though that the earlier builds in the article got low participation especially the Intel Home Office build.
    1
  • obrada
    I don't think that the budget intel gaming PC should had won. It says clearly on the rules that the range price was $1,000 and everyone who made the builds were on that range except 2 guys and 1 of the resulting the one with most votes. I believe that if the price range would have been $500 the story would have been different.
    0
  • hapkido
    Anonymous said:
    hapkidoThese were hypothetical builds. And assembling a PC is much easier than picking the right components. But if you want to buy me the parts from my media PC build, I'll benchmark it playing a video or something.


    Hypothetical build = hypothetical performance

    Take the fm2 home office monster g-unit1111 put together home office with only 4 usb ports on the board , sure it has a header for 6 more but not one is usb 3.0. Home office means lots of peripherals, fast ones that need 3.0 for everyday use. I just wish a little more thought went into this exercise but hey when pigs fly right !



    Are you seriously talking about benchmarking performance for a home office machine or implying a keyboard needs USB 3.0?

    While we're on the topic, what specifically is wrong with my $700 hypothetical performance media PC?
    -1
  • jkhoward
    I do not know how many of you have actually used the Fractal Design Micro ATX case but that thing sure isn't micro. It is one of the largest Mirco ATX cases that I have ever used.

    Yes it is a great case but for a "Micro" ATX case it is close to the size of a smaller Full Size tower.

    (:
    0