Welcome to the October 2016 edition of The Tech Report System Guide. Since the last installment of the Guide, all the dust kicked up in the next-gen graphics card war has started to settle down—and so have the prices for those cards. The eternal struggle between AMD and Nvidia means that builders can get ahold of a mighty powerful machine for less cash than they could around this time a year ago. May those wars never end.
Since our last update, Nvidia has released its GeForce GTX 1060 in both 6GB and 3GB flavors. We're still working on reviewing them, but preliminary results indicate that the 6GB version is more than a match for the already-impressive Radeon RX 480 8GB card. Despite its slightly cut-down pool of resources compared to the 6GB card, the GTX 1060 3GB seems to be a potent match for the Radeon RX 470 4GB, as well. The RX 480 8GB and the GTX 1060 6GB cards currently fight around or above the $250 mark, making them perfect fits for our Sweet Spot build. In turn, the RX 470 and the GTX 1060 3GB offer potent performance around the $200 mark.
AMD has also shaken up the sub-$150 graphics card market with its Radeon RX 460. This card offers a nice boost in performance over our past budget-gaming pick, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, and it's available in 2GB and 4GB versions. Like the GTX 750 Ti, certain RX 460s can drop right into a PCIe slot without the need for an external power connector, too. Between the RX 460 4GB card's relatively generous memory allocation and its promising performance with DirectX 12 titles, we're happy to recommend it for budget builds.
Other parts of the PC-component market have been relatively quiet since our last update. Intel announced its lineup of mobile Kaby Lake CPUs a few weeks back, but we won't hear more about Kaby on the desktop until early next year. AMD also delivered a promising preview of its next-generation Zen CPUs, code-named Summit Ridge, back at IDF. As with desktop Kaby, however, we won't know more about Zen chips until early 2017.
The Tech Report System Guide is sponsored by Newegg. We'll be using links to the site's product pages throughout this guide. You can (and should!) support our work by purchasing the items we recommend using these links. A big thanks to Newegg for their continued support. In the rare cases that Newegg doesn't stock an item we want to recommend, we'll link to other retailers as needed. Despite its sponsorship, Newegg has no input on the components included in the System Guide. Our picks are entirely our own.
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. We'll also make a note of good choices for those readers who are looking to get in to a VR ready system.
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.
If you like this article, don't miss the rest of our guide series: our how-to-build-a-PC guide, where we walk readers (and viewers) through the PC assembly process; our mobile staff picks, where we highlight our favorite devices for on-the-go computing; and our peripheral guide, where we pick the best monitors, mice, keyboards, and accessories to make your PC experience even better.