Custom PC Guide reference builds are the best bang for the bucks and the most popular PC configurations, but don’t just take my words for it!

Each and every system here is based on a variety of surveys and actual builds we got every month; varied from advice by our local Microcenter techs, online PC builders’ community, CPG audience, street smart pharmacists, distant relatives, agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the brothers of the Night’s Watch– as of Q1 2018.

Final cost will certainly be a bit different at the time that you read this guide, future traveler. Your complete build could potentially be a lot cheaper for the same components! Or maybe more expensive. I don’t know. Blame whoever cause us not to have a worthy president like Tom Kirkman.

Amazon usually has discount for PC parts, be sure to apply any available coupon for each item to get the best price for your build!


$350 Home/Work/Internet PC

Whether you need a little machine for the kids to get their home works done or looking for a basic computer to browse, email, programming, serve as a media center, stay in touch with other family members or keep your enemies closer –this build is just perfect for said duties. It’s also super power-efficient, too!

Now when abstinence period is over, it’ll also let you play any modern games under normal graphics settings seamlessly. It can also tackle questionable HD video files you throw at it with no trouble whatsoever. On top of that, The MasterBox Q300L is an elegant, see-through design of a chassis and it also delivers a modern, minimalistic look to the room. There are expansion slots available for future upgrades such as more memory stick, more powerful video card. Your call!

Perhaps people should start sending $450 your way to build a decent looking PC like this; We know people buy much worse system from retail store for a lot more.
CPU

$124.99
Intel Core i3-8100 Quad-Cores 3.6 GHz
MOBO

$60.99
GIGABYTE B360M DS3H
RAM

$30.99
Patriot Memory Viper Elite Series DDR4 4GB 2133MHz
HDD

$49.99
WD Blue 1TB SATA III
PSU

$55.67
EVGA 600 BQ
CASE

$31.69
MasterBox Q300L
ODD

$19.99
LG 24x DVD Writer GH24NSC0B


Build Estimate: $374.31 @ Amazon

$700 – $800 Gaming PC

$700-$800 range is a popular sweet spot for gaming pc, not too expensive yet powerful.

So under extreme pressure to stay within this budget, we sat down with a MicroCenter tech and a lawyer to spec out two systems influenced by two different types of CPU for your choice of pleasure –Intel or AMD. As you probably expect, we need to take a few setbacks on the Intel build when compared to AMD build for the same price. If it was for us, the AMD rig wins hands down in most performance rounds but loses to Intel when it comes to power efficiency.

You can use either machine as a foundation for more expensive gaming build by upgrading more RAM, more powerful video card or higher capacity SSD. However, by no mean this is a build for overclocking purpose since that bracket is more expensive yet it’s not cost-efficient as a gaming system.

AMD Build

CPU

$117
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Quad-core 3.45 GHz
MOBO

$79.95
MSI B350M GAMING PRO
RAM

$94.99
Kingston HyperX FURY Black 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 2133MHz DDR4
HDD

$46.99
WD Blue 1TB SATA III
SSD

$94.99
Samsung 860 EVO 250GB
PSU

$54.99
EVGA 500 W1
CASE

$49.99
Thermaltake Versa H22
ODD

$19.99
LG 24x DVD Writer GH24NSC0B
GPU

$189.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 SC


Build Estimate

$748.88 @ Amazon


Intel Build

CPU

$219.99
Intel Core i5-8400 Processor 6-Core 4.0 GHz
MOBO

$106.86
ASUS ROG Strix B360-H
RAM

$57.99
Patriot Signature DDR4 8GB (2x4GB) 2666MHz
SSD

$79.99
Samsung 970 EVO 250GB
PSU

$88.99
EVGA Supernova 650 G3
CASE

$43.99
Thermaltake Versa H15
GPU

$145.99
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 570
ODD

$19.99
LG 24x DVD Writer GH24NSC0B


Why i5-8400 ?
“…if you are upgrading from three or older generations ago and does not care about overclocking –this is the best bang, well masked, powerful 6-core CPU that meets both the performance and budget. Did we mention it’s also super energy-efficient @ 65W?” —Differences between i7-8700K, i5-8600K vs. Kaby Lake and Ryzen 7.

Why B360 motherboard?
Z370 is for overclockers. B360 is a great fit for a best bang for the bucks build for gamers. There is no performance difference. If you decide a z370 motherboard, you will also need to up the processor to K series but it will mostly be a waste of money and MP.

Why 970 EVO?
“…each new Samsung SSD generation always brings along not only faster performance, more beautiful sale reps but also better price for the rest of us. So, bless these V-NAND plots.” —All Samsung SSDs Comparison: 860 and 970 EVO/Pro vs. 850/960 Series and MX500, 545s, Ultra 3D.

Why EVGA G3? What about G+ or G2?
“..With great success and momentum of the G2 in that year, EVGA gave their team the nod to start the G3 models with Super Flower. In fact, the G3 was the foundation for the G+ later on.” —EVGA Power Supply Units Comparison.

This chassis is plain, should I get a more fancy one?
Yes, max out that credit card today!

$763.7900000000001 ??
!!


$900 High Gaming PC – AMD Build

CPU

$189.99
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.7GHz Processor with Wraith Spire Cooler
MOBO

$99.99
ASUS Prime B350-Plus AM4
RAM

$59.99
Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR4 2400
SSD

$99.99
Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
HDD

$49.99
WD Blue 1TB SATA III
PSU

$69.99
CORSAIR CXM series CX750M 750W
GPU

$336.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING ACX 3.0 8GB
CASE

$65.99
Thermaltake Versa C22 RGB Snow Edition


Build Estimate

$972.92 @ Amazon

Note

Here you probably notice that I have push the budget a little high just to cover all bases, but there are several things that could be compromised: the GTX 1070 is the most expensive item on the ticket –you could switch to GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 580 to lower the total. The case is definitely fancy, you could shave half off the cost by going with Thermaltake H22 Versa in the builds above. Other than that, it’s a solid build that isn’t afraid of any games. Take this to MicroCenter and you could probably get all parts for a lower price using their monthly in-store coupon.

For the $900 Intel Build below, the only changes are CPU and MOBO. The processor is 6600K unlocked because it’s only $5 more than regular i5 6500 version at the time of this writing. However, I didn’t go for an overclocking motherboard (Z270), you’d rather find a B150 in its place. This motherboard should handle minor overclocking just fine. If you are looking for a full blown overclocker edition, don’t hesitate to make the jump but be sure you are actually going to overclock and equipped with a better CPU Cooler.

$900 High Gaming PC – Intel Build

CPU

$197.99
Intel Core i5 6600K 3.50 GHz Quad Core
MOBO

$99.99
MSI Gaming Intel Skylake B150 LGA 1151
RAM

$59.99
Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR4 2400
SSD

$99.99
Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
HDD

$49.99
WD Blue 1TB SATA III
PSU

$69.99
CORSAIR CXM series CX750M 750W
GPU

$336.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING ACX 3.0 8GB
CASE

$65.99
Thermaltake Versa C22 RGB Snow Edition


Build Estimate

$980.92 @ Amazon


$1500 Power Gaming / Workstation – AMD Build

CPU

$323.00
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 3.7GHz Processor with Wraith Spire LED Cooler
MOBO

$149.99
ASUS Prime X370-Pro
RAM

$119.99
Ballistix Sport LT 16GB Kit (4GBx4) DDR4 2400
SSD

$127.99
Samsung 960 EVO Series 250GB PCIe NVMe
HDD

$49.99
WD Blue 1TB SATA III
PSU

$94.99
EVGA 850 GQ, 80+ GOLD 850W
ODD

$19.99
LG 24x DVD Writer GH24NSC0B
CASE

$109.99
Corsair Crystal Series 460X
GPU

$529.99
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING ACX 3.0


Build Estimate

$1525.92 @ Amazon

There are several ways to make this build cheaper. First, I’d aim for a more standard chassis if look does not matter. That probably takes at least $60 off the total. Then I may get a GTX 1070 FTW, instead of the GTX 1080. The GTX 1080 shines best under mutiple-monitor gaming environment or video production and 3D rendering tasks. That means if you are only looking to build a high-end gaming PC, going with a GTX 1070 could potentially brings this build down to a sub-$1200.


Special Builds / Chassis

A High-end Mini ITX Gaming PC at The Size of A Shoebox – 2015

Build a $800 to $1200 Mini ITX Gaming PC with Intel Skylake Processor – 2016

We have also come across these cases for review throughout the years and they immediately made it to the list of our most favorites of all times. Many of them are recommended in the reference builds above as you can see. Enjoy!



$159.99
Corsair Graphite Series 760T


$45.99
Thermaltake Versa H22 Window


$49.95
Cooler Master N200


$49.99
Silverstone Tek Mini-DTX SG13B-Q


$67.99
NZXT S340


$114.99
NZXT H440


$114.99
Thermaltake CORE P5


$59.99
Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-02


$159.99
CM Storm Stryker


Other chassis reviews

Processor comes with a stock fan unless stated otherwise. You only need an after-market cooler for overclocking.


$9000 High-End Workstation, Gaming PC - 2015

$8900 – Dream Workstation

I decide to keep this build here in case you come across it somewhere in 2017. Check out what it’s like to be a dream PC in 2015!

51MpOYmTIbL._SL1500_Here’s everything you can imagine. When money isn’t the problem. Actually, when nothing is the problem. Ridiculous!

So we begin it all with the latest and top of the line Haswell-Extreme processor as the brain for this beast. The i7 5960X is an 8-core CPU that certainly don’t take no as an answer. It runs at 3.0GHz by default with an overclocking potential up to 4.2GHz fairly easily. Yet to keep everything stable –we’re gonna pair the processor with the Corsair H110 Liquid Cooler to take care of heat and all other jealousy.

The Asus X99 RAMPAGE V EXTREME on other hand will be the host of this party. It supports 4-way SLI, brings along an 3×3 A/C 1300Mbps Wireless adapter, O.C LCD panel, High-end Gigabit LAN port, Bluetooth, SupremeFX sound chip, M.2 socket (up to 110mm in length) and of course, an array of USB 2.0/3.0/SATA/SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports at your disposal. This motherboard is also a monster in overclocking, if one day you start to question reality again.

Moving on, we also drop 32GB of DDR4-2800 in all 8 slots which also activate quad-channel for an insane throughput. On other tiny expense ($3.1k) is the 3-way SLI consists of 3 Titan video cards. You know, honestly, i know that 780 Ti’s are more of a better choice due to pricing vs marginal performance, but since we already vow that money isn’t an issue –this is what we get for such realistic imagination. Btw, you can go 4-way SLI but heating will be a major issue here since them video cards have to stack up on top of one another and airflow is very limited between them. Just to be safe. But who knows. You’re rich.

Now when it comes to storage, we’ll have two Samsung 850 Pro 1TB running in RAID 0 Stripping (or RAID 1 Mirroring, up to you) to max the hell out of data transfer rate. There are also three 6TB that could be setup as RAID 5 Parity or just as regular for 18TB in capacity. That should put our concerning mind as ease because them 1TB SSDs wouldn’t be enough for anything these days, would they?

To close up, the whole system is housed in the beautiful 760T with tinted clear side panel and powered by a Corsair 1500W power supply unit just so you can have the highest electricity bill in the entire zip code.

Component

Model No.

Estimated cost

Processor
Intel Core i7-5960X 3.0 GHz Extreme$1050
Motherboard
ASUS X99 RAMPAGE V EXTREME$560
Graphics Chipset
3 x EVGA GeForce TITAN BLACK Superclocked Signature 6GB GDDR5$3200
Hard Drive
2 x Samsung 850-Pro 1TB$1400
3 x Western Digital Red 6TB (RAID 5)$900
Memory
2 x Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR4 2800MHz$1000
Power Supply
CORSAIR AX1500i 80 PLUS Titanium$450
Chassis
Corsair Graphite Series Arctic White 760T$190
Optical Drive
LG 16x Blu-ray Disc Rewriter$60
Front Card Reader
NZXT Aperture M Mesh Card Reader with USB 3.0$35
Liquid Cooler
Corsair Hydro Series H110$110

Estimated:

$8955