Now that it’s officially Cyber Monday, we’ve still been combing through sales online, and we’ll continue to do so throughout the holiday season. As such, we thought it might be a good idea to throw together a quick and dirty PC build based on some of the better deals we’ve seen, in the event anyone is currently or looking to piece together an entire system. Our target was $1000 or less, and we’ve managed to assemble a pretty potent gaming machine for right under that.
Admittedly, $1,000 is a bit steep for a mid-range build—an upper-scale mid-range, no doubt—but still mid-range. This is the part where we insert the disclaimer about the voracious prices on RAM, SSDs, and GPUs. Alas, such are the times.
This gaming PC build for under $1000 uses an AMD Ryzen R5 CPU, a GTX 1060 3GB card, and 16GB of memory to provide a foundation for hobbyist or semi-professional workstation uses.
Unlike our recent Threadripper Workstation build, this one is squarely aimed at gaming and a mix of “content creator” type tasks; the R5 and additional memory will abet in light productivity workloads. Should anyone be considering serious overclocking, certainly pick up the optional cooler listed below, and maybe consider a move to X370 with a better VRM and heatsink.
After a year of non-stop GPU and CPU launches, a GPU round-up is much needed to recap all the data for each price-point. We’ll be looking at strict head-to-head comparisons for each price category, including cards priced at $100-$140, $180-$250, $400-$500, and then the Ti in its own category, of course. As noted in the video, a graphics card round-up is particularly difficult this year: Chaos in the market has thrown-off easy price comparisons, making it difficult to determine the best choice between cards. Historically, we’ve been able to rely on MSRP to get a price (+/-$20, generally) for comparison between both AMD and nVidia; the partners hadn’t strayed too far from that recommendation, nor the retailers, until the joint mining & gaming booms of this year. Fortunately, much of that pandemonium has slowed down, and cards are slowly returning to prices where they sat about 6-8 months ago.
Another point of difficulty, as always, is that price-matched video cards will often outperform one another in different types of workloads. A good example would be Vega vs. Pascal architecture: Generally speaking – and part of this is drivers – Pascal ends up favored in DirectX 11 games, while Vega ends up favored in asynchronous compute workload games (DOOM with Vulkan, Sniper with Dx12). That’s not necessarily always going to be true, but for the heavyweight Vulkan/Dx12 titles, it seems to be. You’ll have to exercise some thought and consider the advantages of each architecture, then look at the types of games you expect to be playing. Another fortunate note is that, even if you choose “wrong” (you anticipated Vulkan adoption, but got Dx11), a lot of the cards are still within a couple percentage points of their direct-price competition. It’s hard to go too wrong, short of buying bad partner cooler designs, but that’s another story.
Our Best Mechanical Keyboards of 2017 guide just went live, showing some of the steepest deals we’ve yet seen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Keyboards have been down as much as 50%, in some instances, with thanks to the high margins on peripheral products; at least, high compared to core components. We’re back to look at gaming mice now, recapping some of the bigger sales on gaming mice that we’ve seen for Cyber Monday.
The recent trend in memory prices have put a major hold on our PC build guides. For years – most of its 10-year existence – GN has published nearly monthly gaming & workstation PC build guides. We haven’t published one for several months now, and that’s because of the simultaneous collision of memory and video card prices. The two all-time high price jumps on GPUs (miner+gamer joint demand) and RAM (supply shortage & process switch) made PC building nearly impossible to afford. There’s been some alleviation of that lately, but not in memory prices directly. The onslaught of Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales have brought down other components enough to more or less neutralize the insane RAM pricing; now, for instance, the 1950X is $200 off MSRP, which instantly counters the RAM pricing being 2x what it should be. For this reason, we decided to revisit our PC build guides with a Threadripper 1950X workstation, built for 3D rendering (Blender), H264 video encoding with Handbrake, and some other batch processing work and Adobe Premiere work.
A Note About PC Builds
PC builds always get comments from people who want to express their infinite wisdom and intelligence in comments fields, likely because, of all the things we publish, PC building is the item with which folks have the most experience. A note, here: We’re building based on two primary criteria, which include:
- - We have used and tested the parts, and trust them for this build.
- - We are using this build internally as a temporary encode/render system, which means that it’s mostly to suit our needs; if you can do better, great, but we’re going for a workstation that can get our jobs done, then be unbuilt.
There are places you can cut costs on this build. We’ll include alternative parts listings for those instances.
As we continue to slog through sales over the weekend, we’ve compiled some of the most attractive deals on keyboards—which might be some of the best deals yet, given the RAM, GPU, and SSD sales out there. We’ve rounded-up the best mechanical keyboards of 2017 and their subsequent Cyber Monday sales. If anyone is looking for a new plank for the holidays, here our some of our picks.
Almost as painfully as for our DDR4 RAM sales article, we trudged through video card sales and “sales” alike in attempt to find gold in a strapped market. Video card sales weren’t as exciting as previous years, with some settling down to simply MSRP – in other words, half off – and others seeing $10-$20 drops. We found a couple of good ones, nonetheless, including GTX 1080, RX 570, RX 560, and GTX 1060 sales. Find those below.
As we continue our year-end awards and sales guides, we’ve come to SSDs. Thus far, our others guides have covered RAM, various Black Friday picks, monitors, 1080 Tis, and laptops. Below, we’ll look at the best SSDs of 2017, and any resultant sales for Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holidays. We use the word “sale” loosely: much like DRAM, NAND has spent much of the year suffering from undersupply and insatiable demand, and thus the ensuing price hike. Most manufacturers are transitioning to 64-layer 3D-NAND, and it is progressing slowly. So, new product releases have been few and far between, supply on other NAND types have been constricted, and prices have remained high. It’s likely CES in January will bring news or announcements.
That said, storage is still a glaring bottleneck for many, and there’s not a more tangible difference in response than upgrading to a modern SSD from a mechanical drive. This holiday season should be a good time to pick up an SSD on sale—or at least at a slightly less rapacious price.
As the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, & holiday sales continue, we thought it may be helpful to put together some essentials for PC building. We’ve included everything from tool kits to thermal paste and many other various items we’ve found useful. The idea is to compile a list of must-have PC-building tools, including PC technician tool kits, thermal compound, power meters, parts trays, and more.
iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit - iFixit makes some of the best tool kits in the industry, which is why we routinely work with the company to run sponsorships and ads on the channel. We use the products every day and feel confident in recommending them. The iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit has been featured on the channel previously and includes all the tools one would need when building or maintaining a PC, including most the tools required to disassemble video cards, coolers, and laptops. The kit includes a 64-bit driver kit, anti-static wrist strap, a small suction cup, opening tools, opening picks, multiple tweezers, two spudgers, magnetic pad, jimmy, and tool roll. At $60 on Amazon (list price), this should serve as a good tool kit for tech enthusiasts as well as general use around the house.
Liquid is only half of the argument, but it’s an important half. We’ll soon be rounding-up several of the high-end air coolers available on the market, and before jumping into that, we’re going to lay the groundwork with a round-up of our liquid cooler reviews for the year. This guide looks at the best closed-loop liquid coolers (“AIOs”) for 2017, but also includes a few of the worst – the leak-prone and the weak-fanned.
As usual with these round-ups, we’ll be including links to the individual reviews for the applicable coolers, with purchasing links also included for each line item. This is part of our end-of-year round-ups, which can all be found here. For specific items, we rounded-up our top Black Friday sales choices here, our top gaming monitor picks, and the best CPU sales. Plenty more on the Buyer’s Guide page.
Note: You’ll want to pull our most recent cooler review to get an updated table with all performance metrics, though individual reviews are good for non-performance discussion.
With our Best AM4 Overclocking Motherboards content up, we figured it was time to publish something in the same vein for Intel. Intel presently has two mainstream platforms: the 200-series and 300-series, with the former hosting Kaby Lake CPUs (like the i7-7700K, presently on sale) and the Skylake-X/KBL-X series (X299), while the latter hosts the new Coffee Lake series (i7-8700K, i5-8400). Oddly, Intel decided against launching Coffee Lake with lower-tier B-series motherboards, so we’re left with only Z370 to fill both the mainstream and enthusiast segments of Coffee Lake.
We rummaged through the Internet’s Black Friday sales to find the best Z370 and Z270 Intel motherboards, including boards we think fitting for the 8700K, 8500, 8300, and 7700K. If you missed our previous content, we have a GN Pick Black Friday Sales guide (that lists some CPUs), a DDR4 memory sales guide, and a Best CPUs of 2017 listing. For those unsure of which CPU to buy, we have reviews of the i7-8700K here, the i5-8400 here, and the i3-8350K over here. If you’re interested in Ryzen stuff, check out our motherboard round-up or Best CPUs guide, both linked above.
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