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Sample builds
By now, you should have the info you need to configure your own build based on your needs. If you'd rather just grab a complete shopping list and buy stuff, though, we're more than happy to help. Here are a few parts lists that span a range of budget options. As always, these builds are just suggestions. Feel free to swap parts around as needed to fit your budget and performance needs.

The Budget Box

  Component Price
Processor Intel Core i3-6100 $119.99
Cooler Intel stock cooler --
Motherboard MSI Z170-A Pro $94.99
Memory G. Skill Aegis 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2133 $37.99
Graphics Gigabyte RX 460 OC 4GB $129.99
Storage WD Blue 1TB $49.99
Enclosure Corsair Carbide 200R $59.99
PSU Seasonic S12II 430B $39.99
Total   $532.93

Our Budget Box proves that even if you don't have an enormous amount of cash to burn, you can still get yourself a competent PC capable of playing many games at 1920x1080 with some graphics options turned up. The Intel Core i3-6100 CPU offers plenty of general-purpose processing power, and the Gigabyte RX 460 OC 4GB graphics card we've chosen offers way more graphics horsepower than you'd expect for only $130, too. The combination is rounded out by the affordable-but-respectable Corsair Carbide 200R case and Seasonic S12II 430B power supply, which has a 5-year warranty.

In case the 1TB hard drive in this build feels a little too pokey for your tastes, you can always add in a Crucial MX300 275GB SSD, which can be yours for about $70.

The Sweet Spot

  Component Price
Processor Intel Core i5-6500 $204.99
Cooler be quiet! Pure Rock Slim $24.90
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD3 $144.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-2133 $66.99
Graphics MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Armor 6G $269.99
Storage Crucial MX300 525GB $119.99
WD Blue 1TB $49.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define S $59.99
PSU EVGA Supernova G2 550W $84.99
Total   $1,027.82

The Sweet Spot steps us up to a quad-core Skylake CPU and Gigabyte's fully-featured GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard. MSI's GeForce GTX 1060 Armor 6G blends Pascal performance with quiet operation and a spankin' 1579 MHz boost clock. If you have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive on the brain, the Pascal architecture's VR-specific features should be an advantage as soon as game engines are updated to employ them, too.

Pair that cool-running graphics card with a large SSD, a 1TB hard drive, Fractal Design's whisper-quiet Define S case and an efficient 80 Plus Gold PSU, and you have a winner for just north of a grand.

The Sweeter Spot

  Component Price
Processor Intel Core i5-6600K $239.99
Cooler Phanteks PH-TC12DX $49.99
Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming/Aura $153.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3000 $76.99
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW $459.99
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 500GB $157.30
WD Blue 3TB 5400 RPM $89.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define R5 $109.99
PSU EVGA Supernova G2 750W $99.99
Total   $1,438.22

Here's a sweet little machine that shows just how much gaming bang-for-the-buck one can get now. Intel's speedy Core i5-6600K CPU should be a good companion for the GeForce GTX 1070, a graphics card that delivers as much performance as a GeForce GTX 980 Ti did for far less money. That's insane value. Some of the money we save this way can be funneled into Samsung's speedy 850 EVO 500GB SSD, and a 3TB hard drive provides plenty of bulk storage space, as well. This is the kind of build that makes us excited to be PC enthusiasts.

The Grand Experiment

  Component Price
Processor Intel Core i7-6700K $339.99
Cooler Noctua NH-D15S $84.90
Motherboard Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming $169.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-3200 $149.99
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 SC $649.00
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 1TB $306.07
WD Blue 4TB 5400 RPM $129.99
Enclosure Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5 $129.99
PSU EVGA Supernova G2 750W $99.99
Total   $2,059.91

This system is our take on the biggest, baddest Skylake-powered PC around. Intel's Core i7-6700K CPU gives us four cores and eight threads of processing power. Noctua's beefy NH-D15S should let builders overclock the Core i7-6700K comfortably, while EVGA's GeForce GTX 1080 SC graphics card stands ready to power through 4K gaming or VR titles. A 1TB SSD should swallow most gamers' entire Steam libraries and regular programs, and 4TB of mechanical storage offers media buffs plenty of room to store pics and flicks without cutting into that valuable NAND.

High-end build: The Broadwell-E Brawler

  Component Price
Processor Core i7-6850K $609.99
Cooler Noctua NH-D15S $84.90
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X99P-SLI $249.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3200 $169.99
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming $699.99
Storage Samsung 950 Pro 512GB $315.62
WD Red 4TB 5400 RPM $149.99
WD Red 4TB 5400 RPM $149.99
LG WH16NS40 Blu-ray burner $49.99
Sound card Asus Xonar DX $98.99
Enclosure Cooler Master MasterCase Maker 5 $174.99
PSU EVGA Supernova P2 850W $149.99
Total   $2,904.42

If you need even more cores and threads than our Grand Experiment offers, our highest-end build offers enough CPU and graphics power to take on just about any task, gaming or otherwise. Our Core i7-6850K CPU and Gigabyte GA-X99P SLI motherboard unlock the full potential of the X99 platform, and our mobo also offers an Intel-powered USB 3.1 Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 port.

This system should be fairly quiet, too, despite its ample horsepower. That's thanks to a big Noctua tower cooler, Cooler Master's excellent MasterCase Maker 5, an EVGA 80 Plus Platinum power supply, and the eerily silent Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming graphics card. As an added bonus, this particular GTX 1080 comes with a front-panel output section that's handy for VR setups. Whatever you want to throw at this system, it's ready for the job.