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The Tech Report System Guide: May 2015 edition

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Spring is in the air. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and it's time for a brand-new edition of our System Guide.

For the most part, the hardware landscape has remained stable since our last look in February. But prices have fallen on a lot of our picks, which has allowed us to spec systems with incredible bang for the buck. We're quite alright with that.

This time around, we're including a solid-state drive in our budget build. Prices on SSDs have dropped enough that we think it's no longer necessary to leave one out of our cheapest system. Everybody should be able to share in the performance gains an SSD brings to the table.

We've also added a new system, the All-Rounder, to our sample builds. This box fills the gap between the sub-$700 price point of our budget build and the $1,500-or-so Sweet Spot system, now called the Sweeter Spot. In turn, the Sweeter Spot is a more overclocking-focused build for those who want to wring the most out of their systems.


Rules of the road
The System Guide is our list of recommended parts for building a new PC. If you've never built a PC before and want to, that's great. Just be sure to read through our guide to building a PC, or kick back and watch the handy video below, before proceeding.

In the following pages, we'll discuss our picks for the critical components that make up a PC, including processors, motherboards, memory, graphics cards, storage, cases, and power supplies. We've picked parts to fit budgets of all sizes, without compromising on quality or performance. Those picks are divided into three categories: budget, sweet spot, and high end.

Our budget picks will get you up and running with solid components that won't break the bank. Stepping up to our Sweet Spot parts gets you even more bang for your buck. At the high end, we've chosen parts that represent the pinnacle of performance, without falling into the trap of spending money for its own sake.

Each part will have a link to a TR review where possible. We also include a "notable needs" section for each item with any critical information that you need to know before putting together a parts list. Finally, we've put together some sample builds if you have no idea where to start.

Our guides are sponsored by Newegg, so we'll be using links to their product pages throughout this article. You can (and should!) support TR by using these links to purchase the products we recommend. If Newegg doesn't stock an item we like, we'll link to other resellers as needed. Our thanks to Newegg for their continued support.

Looking for recommendations for a monitor, keyboard, or mouse? We've split our picks for those parts into a separate peripheral guide, which we revised just recently. Head over and check it out.