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BestConfigs Poll Results: Your Winning Builds

Presenting The BestConfigs Poll Results

Why should Tom’s Hardware editors have all the fun? That’s (partly) the premise behind the system builder competition known as BestConfigs. Based on the popular quarterly System Builder Marathon, in which three of our editors (Paul Henningsen, Thomas Soderstrom and Don Woligroski) build systems at certain price points, for BestConfigs we invite the community of readers on Tom’s Hardware's Forums to dream up their own rigs. The ten current BestConfigs categories are:

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

BestConfigs system builders submitted their PC specs via the Tom’s Hardware Forum, and the community voted for their favorites. The rules specified that each build should include the components required for a complete system (processor, motherboard, memory, storage, power supply and enclosure). A number of setups included optional components such as coolers, discrete graphics, SSDs and optical drives. Peripherals like monitors, keyboards and mice were not included.

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 no further ado, it’s time to check out this quarter’s winners.

We start with an HTPC setup, followed by a couple of high-end gaming PCs, two budget gaming builds and a well-equipped mATX rig.  Next, we have a pair of low-cost PCs for the office and a NAS-oriented PC for storing and streaming media.  Last, but certainly not least, is the most exorbitant build of all—a professional workstation with a price ceiling of four grand!

  • Shneiky
    I am visiting tom's daily (like every morning with my coffee) and I never saw the pools and when they accepted them. I only see the winners announced. Because yet again, the high-end workstation is rather disappointing. I give all kudos to the people that spend time to put them together and I do completely respect their work. but I do guess they do not use productivity software on a daily basis or rather not a large number of them.

    A lot of people are overestimating the usage of GPUs in today's software. GPU acceleration is rather small and does not always use even half of the GPUs potential. Going over a K2000 or K4000 or a GTX660/760 does almost nothing in Premier, Photoshop or 2D vector packages. AE does exhibit small benefits, but nothing as major as sinking that money in a CPU. On Autodesk's front - you need the video card just for the display in Maya/Max/Autocad/etc. And at the current project I am in, the 2 million poly rigged character moves as smooth on my office K4000 as on my home 650TI plus all the particles and fluids. Rendering is all CPU based. There are few GPU renderers, but the quality is nowhere near that of a good old CPU based software renderer. 99% of the professionaly used renderers are CPU based. Vray, Arnold, Maxwell, PRM, MentalRay, etc. I-ray is yet to make a splash in the production world and up until now acts as a nice tech-demo or used in arhi previz. The Foundry's software is the same deal. NUKE and NUKEX are still (even though they say it does) very limited to what extend it uses CUDA. Tracking software, like 3D Equalizer - CPU does the work, GPU accelerated the image processing and loading. Some might argue about MentalRay and VRay IPR, but those are in their major usage - a preview renderer, before you batch render on the CPU. As it stands today - end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, spending more money on a GPU than a CPU for a workstation is a complete waste in 95% of the time. Unless you are going real-time interactive of real-time preview work - GPU is rather unused. And this covers the majority of Adobe, Autodesk, The Foundry and software used for visuals I use regularly.

    I can not say anything about audio, because I am not in the audio and sound design sphere, so somebody with some real experience might want to cover that.

    Cheers
    Reply
  • BoredSysAdmin
    Typo in the article: AMD Radeon’s Low Power Space Saving NAS
    And further on re: Nas - I think besides the T series CPU it's completely wrong. Case which supports only 3 hd's and none-hotplug. DVD drive which is near useless (or 100% useless after the OS install) Too expensive mobo, too powerful PSU.

    8gb is decent ram for NAS, but with cheap RAM which most systems could use for cache it would crime not to add more.

    I also agree with Shneiky - I don't know how many people voted for this workstation build - but besides GPU (I won't know much about it) workstation is about typically multiple CPUs, server grade reliability supported by server grade hardware. Yes it's much more expensive, but guess what - it's worth it if you consider value of downtime for high paying professional.
    Reply
  • envy14tpe
    I haven't seen one of these "poll" builds for months and now there are winners. No one knew which explains why I see some bad build "winners". In the future it would be nice to vote.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Where did this come from? I have never heard of this best configs thing before, it would be nice to know so I can vote next time.
    Reply
  • gamebrigada
    14868115 said:
    I am visiting tom's daily (like every morning with my coffee) and I never saw the pools and when they accepted them. I only see the winners announced. Because yet again, the high-end workstation is rather disappointing. I give all kudos to the people that spend time to put them together and I do completely respect their work. but I do guess they do not use productivity software on a daily basis or rather not a large number of them.

    I completely second this. I'm in the aerospace industry, and not so long ago, a quality Quadro card was absolutely necessary for every build we did. Otherwise the CAD software was unstable, had artifacts, and general screw-ups. Nowadays, we rarely get super high-end cards. The lowend k2000m or k1000m are more than enough for most of our usage, but even that is overkill. Hell the high end Surface Pro 3 can run all of our CAD software without a hitch.

    We still haven't gone away from Xeons and ECC memory, but we are willing to pay the price for easy proc upgrades, amount of memory supported, the stability and longevity of the combo. We're willing to get a couple high end Xeons with tons of memory for the price of a highend graphics card. The most expensive card we've gotten in the past few years was a quadro 4000, just because HP set us up for an epic price, and my hyperv host wanted remotefx love.
    Reply
  • burmese_dude
    I can't really say I saw the submission or voting links in the past. Had I saw submission site, I would've entered my Pentium 266 II with MMX PC system and that sure would've won all categories. I mean it's got 4 gig of HD. Who wouldn't salivate over that.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    I read Tom's every week and several times per day and I don't recall any mention of a poll or I would have voted. Some of the winners are deserving but it would have been nice if more could have voted. Why hide the link to this poll?

    Also I noticed on Damric’s $600 AMD Budget Tweaker in the system description you describe the CPU and motherboard as AMD FX-8350 and a Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard, Yet below it you list the parts as AMD Athlon X4 760K and a ASRock FM2A75 PRO4+, so which is it?
    Reply
  • hons
    The winners are :

    Home Theater PC Joseph

    High-End Intel Gaming PC AMD Radeon’s

    High-End AMD Gaming PC CJ

    Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC Damric

    AMD-Based Office PC Cody

    Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC damric

    Intel-Based Office PC AMD Radeon

    MicroATX Gaming Build AMD Radeon

    NAS PC AMD Radeon

    High-End Workstation Joseph,

    So, how many PCs a member can win??? From what I can see "AMD Radeon" got 4!!!! Is this real????
    Reply
  • hons
    The winners are :

    Home Theater PC Joseph

    High-End Intel Gaming PC AMD Radeon’s

    High-End AMD Gaming PC CJ

    Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC Damric

    AMD-Based Office PC Cody

    Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC damric

    Intel-Based Office PC AMD Radeon

    MicroATX Gaming Build AMD Radeon

    NAS PC AMD Radeon

    High-End Workstation Joseph,

    So, how many PCs a member can win??? From what I can see "AMD Radeon" got 4!!!! Is this real????
    Reply
  • hons
    The winners are :

    Home Theater PC Joseph

    High-End Intel Gaming PC AMD Radeon’s

    High-End AMD Gaming PC CJ

    Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC Damric

    AMD-Based Office PC Cody

    Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC damric

    Intel-Based Office PC AMD Radeon

    MicroATX Gaming Build AMD Radeon

    NAS PC AMD Radeon

    High-End Workstation Joseph,

    So, how many PCs a member can win??? From what I can see "AMD Radeon" got 4!!!! Is this real????
    Reply