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.
It’s one spelunk after another for sales round-ups. Our other sales round-ups covered RAM sales, AMD CPU sales, and provided a GN “Best Of” Black Friday sales guide. We’re back to look at the best gaming laptops of 2017, along with their subsequent sales for Black Friday.
Having gone over the best CPUs, cases, some motherboards, and soon coolers, we’re now looking at the best GTX 1080 Tis of the year. Contrary to popular belief, the model of cooler does actually matter for video cards. We’ll be going through thermal and noise data for a few of the 1080 Tis we’ve tested this year, including MOSFET, VRAM, and GPU temperatures, noise-normalized performance at 40dBA, and the PCB and VRM quality. As always with these guides, you can find links to all products discussed in the description below.
Rounding-up the GTX 1080 Tis means that we’re primarily going to be focused on cooler and PCB build quality: Noise, noise-normalized thermals, thermals, and VRM design are the forefront of competition among same-GPU parts. Ultimately, as far as gaming and overclocking performance, much of that is going to be dictated by silicon-level quality variance, and that’s nearly random. For that reason, we must differentiate board partner GPUs with thermals, noise, and potential for low-thermal overclocking (quality VRMs).
Today, we’re rounding-up the best GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards that we’ve reviewed this year, including categories of Best Overall, Best for Modding, Best Value, Best Technology, and Best PCB. Gaming performance is functionally the same on all of them, as silicon variance is the larger dictator of performance, with thermals being the next governor of performance; after all, a Pascal GPU under 60C is a higher-clocked, happier Pascal GPU, and that’ll lead framerate more than advertised clocks will.
In keeping up with our end of the year coverage, such as The Best CPUs of 2017, The Best PC Cases of 2017, and Best RAM sales, we’ve now put together the most noteworthy gaming monitors of the year. Monitors aren’t something we’ve spent much time with this year, although there are a couple we’ve gotten hands-on with and recommend. As the holidays approach—and thus, the most consumer-centric time of the year—we hope this guide of top-rated monitors will help take some of the guesswork out of any purchasing decisions.
We’ll look at best monitors in categories such as UltraWide, 4K gaming, budget 1080p, 1440p, G-Sync, FreeSync, and a handful of honorable mentions. This list includes Black Friday and other sales for monitors.
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