Welcome to the PC Builders Thread, where we talk about computer hardware! Whether you're upgrading your existing computer, want to build a new one, have a question, or just like talking about computers in general - we've got you covered!
Fall - Winter 2019: AMD will release their new Threadripper 3000 series of HEDT processors.
~October/November 2019: AMD will release their 16 core / 32-thread Ryzen 9 3950X!
July 23rd, 2019: Nvidia released their new RTX 2080 Super; the RTX 2080 will be discontinued.
July 9th, 2019: Nvidia released their new RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super GPUs; the RTX 2070 will be discontinued.
July 7th, 2019: AMD has released their new Radeon 5700 and Radeon 5700 XT GPUs.
July 7th, 2019: AMD has released their new Ryzen 3000 series, including the 12-core / 24-thread Ryzen 3900X!
CPU-Z - display CPU, motherboard, and memory info
GPU-Z - display videocard info
CoreTemp - monitor CPU temperature
EVGA Precision XOC - useful for overclocking your videocard, monitoring temps, setting a custom fan curve, etc.
MSI Afterburner - useful for overclocking your videocard, monitoring temps, setting a custom fan curve, etc.
AMD Ryzen Master - for Ryzen and Threadripper systems only; CPU overclocking and monitoring
HWiNFO - detailed system info and monitoring
BlueScreenView - provides info about BSODs
ProduKey - provides your CD/Serial Key for Windows and Microsoft Office; useful to recover keys from back-up drives
Macrium Reflect - clone one SSD/HDD to another SSD/HDD
WizTree - visually displays which files/folders on all of your PC's storage drives are using the most storage space
Cinebench R20 - CPU Benchmark
Blender Benchmark - CPU Benchmark
SuperPi Mod 1.5 - CPU Benchmark (Single-threaded)
Unigine Heaven - Graphics Benchmark
Unigine Superposition - Graphics Benchmark
3DMark - Graphics Benchmark (Click "Download Demo")
FF XIV Stormblood Benchmark - Graphics Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark - HDD / SSD Storage Benchmark
UserBenchmark - Full system benchmark, comparing your components to others' same components (note, if others overclocked their specific component and you did not, it’s likely yours will fall below the average, so don’t necessarily panic!)
Asus RealBench - CPU/GPU/Memory/Storage (Click "Download RealBench")
Prime95 - CPU (Warning, Prime95 can make your system run very hot, keep a close eye on temps)
OCCT - CPU/GPU/PSU
MemTest86 - Memory
MicroCenter - Also has brick and mortar stores
Fry's Electronics - Also has brick and mortar stores
PCPartPicker - NOT a store, but a price aggregator; select your region/country in the top-right
Gear Seekers (YouTube)
Actually Hardcore Overclocking (YouTube)
Louis Rossmann (YouTube)
Hardware Unboxed (YouTube)
Nerd on a Budget (YouTube)
Hardware Canucks (YouTube)
JP Modified (YouTube)
Linus Tech Tips (YouTube)
Answering these questions will help us recommend or put together a build for you:
1) What's your budget and currency?
2) What do you want to use the computer for?
3) When do you plan to purchase the parts and build it?
4) Are you reusing any parts or are you building a completely new computer?
5) Do you only need the computer itself or do you need accessories, such as a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and speakers?
6) Are you interested in overclocking? (Overclocking is running components such as the processor or video card at a higher speed than they come from the factory. It can give additional performance but can come with consequences such as increased heat (requiring better cooling), higher power consumption, possibly more noise, and stress testing to ensure that the overclock is stable.)
These builds are starting-points; they use parametric filters, which means the individual components may swap around. Do not blindly order these parts lists without posting here first, as these are meant as a guideline to get you started along the lines of "hey, an RTX 2080 might be right for me," not necessarily to suggest "hey, this specific RTX 2080 is right for me!" Also note, prices fluctuate, so the price listed in this post may no longer be accurate.
[Build 1] Entry-Level iGPU Quad-Core [$460]
[Build 2] Entry-Level Quad-Core [$655]
[Build 3] Low/mid-level [$745]
[Build 4] Mid-level [$900]
[Build 5] Upper/Mid-level [$1,100]
[Build 6] Upper-level [$1,290]
[Build 7 - A] High-End Gaming, AMD [$1,745]
[Build 7 - I] High-End Gaming, Intel [$1,765]
[Build 8 - A] "Money is no object," AMD [$2,870]
[Build 8 - I] "Money is no object," Intel [$2,885]
[Build X] HEDT Rig [$4,120] (For video editing, rendering, and professional use - not a primary gaming rig)
Processor (CPU) - This is the "brain" of your computer. It's responsible for processing all of the instructions necessary to make your computer operate. Modern CPUs have multiple cores (multiple computation units on a single chip) and whether you need more cores or faster cores depends on what type of tasks you'll need the CPU to execute.
Memory (RAM) - When programs need to be executed, they are loaded into memory so that they can then be processed by the processor. This memory is volatile or non-persistent, meaning that the data stored here will be lost when you turn off your computer.
Motherboard - This is the "heart" of your computer. Everything in your computer plugs into this and it's responsible for allowing all of the components (like the CPU and video card, for example) to communicate with each other.
Video Card (GPU) - This is responsible for rendering everything that you see on your computer screen. A video card contains both the GPU (graphics processing unit) and VRAM (video RAM, used just by the GPU and not the rest of the system).
Storage - This is the place where data is stored on your computer long-term. If you turn off the computer, the data will still be there the next time you turn it on. The two most popular types of storage are HDDs (hard disk drives) and SSDs (solid state drives). HDDs are older technology, have internal moving parts, and are slower, yet are cheaper per gigabyte. SSDs are newer technology that have no moving parts, are faster and quieter, but are also more expensive per gigabyte. The two most popular types of SSDs are 2.5” SATA-based SSDs (connects to the motherboard via a SATA data cable and a SATA power cable) and M.2 SSDs (newer, plugs directly into the motherboard with no cables required). M.2 SSDs have two sub-types: SATA and NVMe. SATA-based M.2 drives operate at the same speed as SATA-based 2.5” SSDs, but NVMe-based M.2 drives can operate at roughly 3-10x faster than SATA-based 2.5” SSDs.
Case - This is the chassis that houses your computer. There are a wide variety of case types for many purposes and preferences. You can use small cases that fit anywhere, silent cases that mask or reduce fan noise, large cases that fit many components, fancy cases with RGB lighting or very nice looks, etc.
Power Supply (PSU) - This is the part that is responsible for providing power to the components inside your computer. You should look at the overall wattage to make sure that it can provide enough power for your system as well as other features like the efficiency rating (how well the PSU converts the AC power it receives from the outlet to DC power the components of the PC can use), modularity (whether cables not needed can be disconnected from the PSU), the fan (whether it turns off under no load or turns slowly under light loads to reduce noise), how many amps each of the rails provides, etc.
Optical Drive - If you want to use optical media on your computer such as a CD-ROM, a DVD, or a Blu-ray then you'll want one of these. You can either go for an internal drive or an external drive. An internal drive is conveniently inside the computer, but an external drive can be put away when you don't need it and can easily be used among several computers if necessary since it's easy to disconnect and reconnect. In general, fewer modern PC cases include space for a 5.25" optical drive, as more and more software is available by digital download.
Sound Card - Modern motherboards come with internal sound components which allow you to hear sound from your computer. However, there are also standalone internal sound cards or even external DACs and amps that you can buy if you want even higher quality sound or specific features.
Cooling - This includes case fans, the fan & heatsink on your processor, and the fan & heatsink on your video card. Most cases come with a one or more fans, but more fans can be added to improve cooling or the stock fans can be replaced with different fans depending on if you want different colors, different speeds / noise, or even just higher quality and longer-lasting fans. For CPU cooling you can either go with air cooling (which involves a metal heatsink on the processor and one or more fans to blow air across the heatsink), AIO (all-in-one) water cooling (which includes a water-block, pump, reservoir, and tubing all in one unit designed for ease of use), and custom water cooling (where you buy the water cooling components separately in order to customize it and achieve even better performance and/or lower noise). Video cards come with either air cooling or AIO water cooling, but they can also be switched over to custom water cooling and some come with a custom water-block pre-installed and ready for your custom water cooling loop. In general, the vast majority of people use the stock cooler that comes attached to their GPU.
PCI Express Cards - These are add-in cards that can populate your motherboard's PCI Express slots in order to add more functionality. An add-in sound card or WiFi PCI Express adapter are examples.
Accessories/Peripherals - Other accessories can also exist such as mice, keyboards, RGB lighting strips, mouse pads, mouse bungees, etc.
How to assemble a computer (YouTube)
How to assemble a computer (Article)
Explanation of hyper-threading (YouTube; also applies to AMD's simultaneous multi-threading [SMT])
Computer acronym list (Article)
Introduction to custom water cooling (YouTube)
Small form-factor (SFF) case list (Google Sheet)
SSD Buying Guide #1a (PDF, flow-chart)
SSD Buying Guide #1b (PDF, text-file)
SSD Comparison Chart (Article)
Monitor technology guide; TN vs VA vs IPS (Article)
If you have any questions then feel free to ask us!