The Tech Report System Guide: summer 2018 edition

Welcome to TR’s Summer 2018 System Guide. This is where the TR staff picks out the créme de la créme of hardware components fit for the most price-effective builds around. We’ve tried to create builds across a wide range of price points with parts that provide the best performance possible for the money. However, we don’t just ferret out the cheapest components possible or compromise configurations to hit arbitrary price points. Indeed, these are the systems we’d build for ourselves, given the money. From our cheapest build to our most expensive (or the second-most expensive, at least), you can rest easy knowing that we’ve done the hard work of balancing the need for performance against the curve of diminishing returns.

Where we’re at

In our last System Guide, we lamented that prices for solid-state drives and RAM in particular were sky-high. Good news, everyone! Prices for RAM have been steadily dropping to amounts that are still dear but not stratospheric, while figures for SSDs have sunk like rocks of late. That’s especially true for higher-capacity offerings. We’ve had 1-TB and 2-TB solid-state drives in our deals posts for under 20 cents a gig recently. Insanity.

That’s not the end of it, either. Cryptocurrency prices have taken something of a plunge this year, and the looming prospect of more ASICs for some popular coins means that graphics cards aren’t in quite as high demand as before. Yes, they’re still usually selling for more than their suggested prices, but not much more—especially at the high end. CPU power is cheaper than ever, so on balance, high prices for graphics cards can be offset with some savings elsewhere.

All in all, we can safely say that the time is right again to be a PC builder. Having said that, keep in mind that prices for pixel-pushers are changing all the time, so always shop around for the best deal.

AMD released its second-gen Ryzen CPUs a while back with a bang. We reviewed both top-end second-gen Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs as well as Ryzen APUs with integrated Vega graphics, and we found all of them worthy of Editor’s Choice awards thanks to their great value propositions. The company has been playing the CPU game well with an aggressive bang-for-the-buck strategy, and enthusiasts everywhere get to enjoy the newfound competition. Our budget builds in particular got a big shake-up from these chips.

While AMD currently has a competitive selection of processors more or less across the board, the red team’s graphics cards aren’t quite so appetizing. Radeon RX 500-series cards in general are still more expensive than we’d like, and choices for Radeon RX Vega cards are both limited and much pricier than their original suggested stickers. In contrast, Nvidia’s Pascal family of cards has generally been in stock at mostly sane prices up and down the stack. Our graphics card picks still favor Nvidia for this reason. Given that the graphics-card market is still in incredible flux, however, this judgment could change at any time.

Rules of engagement

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 and builds to fit budgets of all sizes, without compromising on quality or performance.

Our budget builds will get you up and running with solid components that won’t break the bank. Stepping up to our sweet spot builds 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.

Although we include dedicated graphics cards in nearly all our selections with the assumption that the builder has an interest in gaming, that might not be the case. In that situation, it’s easy enough to remove the card from the components list or replace it with a low-end model for basic video outputs in builds whose CPU doesn’t include an integrated graphics processor. Intel builders will reliably get an IGP, while Ryzen owners need to bring their own graphics card outside of the Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G.

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.

 

Sample builds: budget to mid-range

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. We have parts lists that span a range of budget options. We did our best effort to present balanced rigs at various price points, but the whole point of building a PC is that you can customize it as you see fit. Feel free to swap parts around as needed to fit your budget and performance needs.

Econobox

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Ryzen 5 2400G $163.00
Cooler AMD Wraith Spire (included)

 
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-AB350M-DS3H $64.99
Memory G. Skill Ripjaws V 8 GB (2x4GB) DDR4-3200 $108.99
Graphics Radeon Vega 11 IGP  

Storage Toshiba TR200 240 GB $58.65
Enclosure Cooler Master N200 $39.99
PSU Corsair CX450 $44.99
Total   $480.61

The Econobox offers a stepping stone into the world of a balanced desktop PC. This is also the system that got the biggest shake-up for this edition. The recent arrival of AMD’s Vega-infused Ryzen APUs added a wrinkle to our selection process, albeit a welcome one. Buyers perusing the low end of the CPU market are now spoiled for choice. Ryzen APUs include four Zen cores and a pretty-competent IGP that can offer most of the performance of a low-end GeForce GT 1030. That’s a recipe for success if we ever saw one, and the choices for our most affordable build reflect that.

The Ryzen 5 2400G we have in this machine packs enough general-purpose processing punch to handily beat the Core i3-8100 in most day-to-day tasks, and its Vega graphics processor should handle light gaming with aplomb. We point to games like Minecraft, Rocket League, and Dota 2 as good examples of what you can expect to easily play on the Ryzen 5 2400G, so long as you don’t expect 1920×1080 gaming in AAA titles or enable too much graphical detail. The included AMD Wraith Spire cooler is plenty adequate for cooling this chip, and you can expect the fan atop it to be pretty quiet most of the time. Best of all, the Ryzen 5 2400G supports FreeSync with any compatible monitor, while Nvidia doesn’t officially support G-Sync on its lowest-end GT 1030.

We’re using an SSD in our most affordable build, too. Seeing as a good number of people are using cloud storage for most of their needs and considering the expected tasks for this machine, we figure it’s high time for an affordable 240-GB solid-state drive, in this case the Toshiba TR200. It’s always pretty easy to add a hard drive if there’s a need for more storage, too.

Econobox Alternative

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Core i3-8100 $119.99
Cooler Intel stock cooler (included)

 
Motherboard Gigabyte B360M DS3H $67.57
Memory G. Skill Aegis 8 GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2400 $86.99
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 $89.99
Storage Western Digital Blue 1 TB, 7200 RPM $44.00
Enclosure Cooler Master N200 $39.99
PSU Corsair CX450 $44.99
Total   $493.52

Here’s a budget-conscious machine of a different tack than the regular Econobox. The choice of CPU for this build is Intel’s Core i3-8100. This quad-core chip offers fine performance for entry-level gaming and productivity tasks, even if its four cores are sometimes outperformed by the Ryzen 5 2400G in heavier productivity workloads.

If you’re primarily gaming on a budget, though, the combination of the Core i3-8100 and a GeForce GT 1030 is a pretty potent one for this price bracket. You can play older games and esports titles at pretty-good frame rates at 1920×1080, and you should also be able to fire up some AAA titles at modest quality settings. While AMD’s Ryzen APUs offer impressive performance for IGPs, there’s really no replacement for a discrete graphics chip with its own pool of GDDR5 RAM for the best performance from a cheap PC. The GT 1030 clears the 33.3-ms overall 99th-percentile frame time we want for a good gaming experience by a wide margin, while the Ryzen 5 2400G just falls short of it.

For storage, we dropped down to a Western Digital’s Blue 1-TB hard drive for this build, as it’s really easy to fill a 250-GB SSD with just a handful of games. You can always pair it with or swap it for a Toshiba TR200 240 GB for $58 or so.

If you’re wondering why we’re not recommending Intel’s Optane Memory for this build, the reason is simple: it’s not cost-effective. In order to gain substantial benefits from an Optane module, you’d likely need to spring for the 32 GB version, and that gumstick currently goes for close to $60. Simple math tells us that the $104 you’d spend would be about enough for a basic 500-GB SSD, and the consistent performance of the SSD is worth the capacity tradeoff. Should the economics around Optane modules change, we’ll gladly revisit this particular topic.

Middle Ground

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Core i5-8400 $179.99
Cooler Intel stock cooler (included)

 
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming Wifi $159.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 16 GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3200 $179.99
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 ACX 3.0

$329.99
Storage Crucial MX500 500 GB M.2 $119.99
Toshiba P300 3 TB $76.80
Enclosure Fractal Design Define C $89.99
PSU Corsair CX550 $49.99
Total   $1,186.73

If the Econobox Gamer was our first jolt of Coffee Lake, then the Middle Ground is the proverbial refill. We picked out the Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, a fantastic all-rounder that’s more than suited to the task of feeding our GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB graphics card. The combo is powerful enough for 60-FPS-or-better gaming at 1920×1080 with detail levels turned up. A good number of AAA titles should also play easily at 2560×1440 on this box, too.

We’ve stepped up to 16 GB of RAM in this build, a welcome move helped by RAM prices coming back down from the stratosphere. Our 3200 MT/s kit can be used with its XMP profile on our Z370 motherboard, and given how little one saves for stock DDR4-2666 RAM, the upgrade can be worth it in certain corner cases.

Over in the storage department, a Crucial MX500 500-GB solid-state drive has more than enough room for a handful of top-tier games, and those that don’t fit can easily go in the Toshiba P300 3 TB hard drive that we’ve paired with it. The Fractal Design Define C case is one of our favorites, and it’s pretty compact considering it can take in ATX motherboards.

Sweet Spot

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Ryzen 5 2600X $209.99
Cooler Noctua NH-U14S

$63.69
Motherboard Gigabyte X470 Aorus Ultra Gaming $139.99
Memory G. Skill Ripjaws V 16 (2x8GB) DDR4-3200 $179.99
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 Ti $509.99
Storage Samsung 970 EVO 500 GB $197.99
Western Digital Blue 4 TB $103.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define C $89.99
PSU Seasonic Focus Plus 650 W $89.99
Total   $1,585.61

This is probably the system with the best overall value in this System Guide. Generational hand-offs always bring a tear to our eyes, and the direct replacement of the previous edition’s Ryzen 5 1600 with the newfangled Ryzen 5 2600X is a particularly touching one. The 2600X’s 4.2-GHz single-core clock is a healthy figure for the Zen+ architecture. Even better, a good cooler lets the Ryzen 5 2600X run all of its cores at about 4 GHz, leaving little room or reason to overclock. To let the Ryzen 5 2600X shine, we picked out the super-quiet Noctua NH-U14S.

The Ryzen 5 2600X powers the excellent GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. This card wasn’t the best value when it originally arrived, but it’s a pretty good choice now. GTX 1070s are no cheaper, GTX 1080s are substantially more expensive, and Radeon RX Vega 56 cards are still overpriced, making the GTX 1070 Ti’s near-GTX-1080 performance the best value in high-end gaming at the moment. This combination of CPU and graphics card ought to be good for smooth and fluid running in the vast majority of games at 2560×1440 with high detail levels. We also step up the SSD to Samsung’s recently-released 970 EVO NVMe unit, which is about the fastest one you can get for $200 with a capacity of 500 GB. An 80 Plus Gold-rated Seasonic Focus Plus 650-W PSU caps off the build.

 

Sample builds: high-end and beyond

Whereas the builds on the previous page are particularly considerate of budget restrictions, in this section we’ll be taking a look at builds that climb higher up the performance ladder. Despite that objective, we’re not going to recommend any particular parts with big price tags just for the sake of having the best hardware around—well, save for the very last build, that is.

Gaming Powa

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Intel Core i7-8700K $349.99
Cooler Corsair H115i Pro RGB $139.99
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 $229.99
Memory G. Skill Ripjaws V 16 GB (2×8 GB) DDR4-3200 $179.99
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW $569.99
Storage Sasmung 970 EVO 500 GB $197.99
Western Digital Blue 4 TB $103.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define R6 $131.99
PSU Corsair RM 750x $109.99
Total   $2,013.91

The Gaming Powa is our take on the best box for high-refresh-rate gaming at 1920×1080 and perhaps even 2560×1440, where per-core performance, low memory latencies, and overclocking headroom rule. Only gamers after a frame rate higher than 120 FPS need apply. 

The centerpiece here is the Intel Core i7-8700K—my favorite CPU at the moment. Six Coffee Lake cores, twelve threads, and clocks high enough to challenge the one atop the Abraj Al-Bait make this chip the enthusiast CPU to beat at the moment. In our review, we found this processor flawless when it comes to gaming performance. It keeps frame times low and ensures an easy, smooth ride through nearly every title out there when hungry graphics cards are in play. Granted, the $350 asking price is most of our Econobox alone, but every dollar is worth it. 

The GeForce GTX 1080 is a perfect pairing for this CPU, and we’d advise those after an extra-fluid 2560×1440 experience to spend the extra dosh on a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti if it’s possible. That card is pretty much the only way to smooth 4K gaming today, if that’s more your speed. We also went with a Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD for a storage performance boost, too. Since this CPU runs a little toasty at stock speeds and can prove a bear to cool effectively when overclocked, we decided to go with the Corsair H115i Pro RGBi closed-loop liquid cooler for this build. The accompanying motherboard has a beefy VRM to support Coffee Lake overclocking efforts, and Fractal Design’s Define R6 can handle these hot parts without a hitch.

Work & Play

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Ryzen 7 2700X $319.99
Cooler Corsair H115i Pro RGB $139.99
Motherboard Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wifi $232.56
Memory G. Skill Trident Z 32 GB (2×16 GB) DDR4-3200 $334.99
Graphics EVGA GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 iCX $849.99
Storage Samsung 970 EVO 1TB $397.99
Western Digital Red 4 TB $124.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define R6 $131.99
PSU Seasonic Focus Plus 850 W $119.99
Total   $2,652.48

Let’s say you want a workstation-class build with serious computing punch, but you don’t want to go as far as burning a grand on a CPU alone. The centerpiece in this build is AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X. We previously went with Intel’s Core i7-7820X for this spot, but the price of that chip and the X299 platform are hard to defend outside of some specific scenarios like digital audio workstations. We took a long, hard look at the 2700X recently and we came away impressed with just how well-rounded it is.

During work hours, the Work & Play will excel at compiling code, rendering 3D models, and transcoding video. This box will be more than up to those tasks without going too much overboard, by our reckoning. That all-rounder CPU is complemented nicely by Gigabyte’s X470 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard and a hefty 32-GB chunk of DDR4-3200 RAM. We’ve also specced out a storage combo setup comprising Samsung’s 970 EVO 1-TB NVMe drive and a Western Digital Red 4-TB spinner. Since this build deserves a little more literal power, we stepped up the PSU to Seasonic’s Focus Plus 850 W.

Serious Business

The build above is strong enough for most tasks, but if you’re doing really heavy-duty work that requires lots of cores and threads or ECC RAM, you’ll want to step up to the Serious Business. Fair warning: if you’re wondering why you’d need so many cores, this machine is not for you. Only the most power-hungry need apply, and that means people who will be doing 3D rendering, CAD, lots of compiling, and so on. Those people that will, in fact, work on those tasks are probably frothing at the mouth already, calculating their ROI after buying this machine… or both.

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X $864.79
Cooler Fractal Design Celsius S36 $118.62
Motherboard Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7 $339.99
Memory G.Skill Trident Z RGB 32 GB (4×8 GB) DDR4-3200 $395.99
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW iCX $849.99
Storage Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB $397.99
Western Digital Red 6 TB hard drive $184.99
Western Digital Red 6 TB hard drive $184.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define R6 $131.99
PSU Corsair HX1000i $229.99
Total   $3,699.33

The mighty Ryzen Threadripper 1950X got an Editor’s Choice award when we reviewed it for its combination of sheer performance and unbridled platform capabilities, and its price has only come down since our initial review. The humongous 1950X offers 16 cores and 32 threads clocked at a maximum of 4 GHz. That’s probably enough computing horsepower to run a small city, and yet here it sits under a single massive heat spreader. X399 motherboards can tap 64 lanes of PCIe 3.0 expansion direct from this CPU, too.

We’ve slapped 32 GB of fast quad-channel RAM into this system, and the Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB is now complemented by a pair of big honkin’ Western Digital Red 6 TB NAS drives. Those drives are pretty quiet but don’t spin at 7200 RPM. Should you care more about speed than noise, you’ll likely prefer HGST’s Deskstar NAS offerings. I own both types of drives, and I have nothing but good things to say about either. 

Fractal Design’s massive Celsius S36 closed-loop cooler, the amazing Fractal Design Define R6 case, a Corsair HX1000i power supply, and the nearly-world-beating GeForce GTX 1080 Ti top off this beastly build.

No Holds Barred

Where our last few builds focus on the best bang for the buck, the No Holds Barred is not about that. Instead, this system is for the most demanding compute tasks around, whether those reside on the CPU or the graphics card. This system also gives demanding users a way to connect to every high-speed storage device or peripheral under the sun. From CPU to storage, this box is the most capable and cutting-edge desktop PC that we could make using enthusiast-friendly parts. If you want to knock yourself out with dual-socket server motherboards and other exotica, feel free, but this is meant to be our vision of the highest-performance enthusiast PC around, not something that needs its own rack to run.

  Component Price Buy (prices may vary)
Processor Intel Core i9-7960X $1,579.00
Cooler Corsair H150i Pro RGB $169.99
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX $432.14
Memory G.Skill Trident Z RGB 64 GB (4×16 GB) DDR4-3200 $887.99
Graphics Nvidia Titan V

$2,999.00  Nvidia shop
Storage Intel Optane SSD 905P 960 GB $1,299.90
WD Red  8 TB hard drive $249.99
WD Red 8 TB hard drive $249.99
Enclosure Fractal Design Define R6 $131.99
PSU Corsair HX1200i $269.99
Total   $8,269.98

The face-melting computing power in this build starts with Intel’s Core i9-7960X. This 16-core, 32-thread CPU might have the same core and thread count as AMD’s much less expensive Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, but its Skylake Server cores can clock higher—and do more per clock cycle—than the Threadripper’s can. That’s especially evident in the Core i9-7960X’s dual AVX-512 units per core, a capability that may be of interest to HPC and scientific-computing developers. Intel’s own Xeon W CPUs turn on ECC RAM support for better workstation cred, but those processors and the motherboards to support them simply aren’t available to consumers yet. Folks with even more money can consider Intel’s own Core i9-7980XE, but we didn’t find many situations that could take advantage of that chip’s extra cores to justify its $300 higher price tag in our testing.

For GPU-computing workloads like deep-learning training, there simply isn’t a more powerful platform than Nvidia’s Titan V and its Volta V100 GPU. This beast of a compute accelerator offers the same bounty of compute resources that Nvidia’s Tesla V100 server cards do, including half-rate double-precision support and an array of dedicated “tensor cores” for matrix-multiplication-heavy AI work. 12 GB of HBM2 RAM on a 3072-bit bus offers 652.8 GB/s of theoretical bandwidth to those operations.

Yes, this card is $3000, but it’s worth considering that the Tesla V100 is at least $8000 on its own if you can find one outside of a GPU compute server. If price is no object, the Quadro GV100 offers pro-grade drivers and an eye-popping 32 GB of HBM2 RAM. It also commands an equally eye-popping $9000 retail price. Unless you’re messing with the cutting edge of deep learning or professional visualization, the Titan V is probably a better bet.

If you’re building a gaming PC and you’re eyeing this build, stop. The Titan V is an exceedingly poor value for a gaming card, and the No Holds Barred is not a gaming PC. If you’re still eyeing this parts list and have more money than sense, you’ll find that the Titan V is the highest-performing gaming card on the planet.

For primary storage, the No Holds Barred turns to Intel’s cutting-edge Optane SSD 905P 960-GB SSD. This PCIe add-in board and its healthy serving of 3D Xpoint NVRAM offer the lowest (and most consistent) access latencies around, and Optane’s insane QD1 performance means that even lightly-threaded storage tasks will smoke like nothing else on this SSD. Not everything can fit into the Optane SSD 905P’s capacity, though, and if you have large data sets or need to keep monster video files handy for editing, you can rely on the twin Western Digital Red 6-TB drives.

We pair these ultra-rarefied components with Gigabyte’s excellent X299 Designare motherboard. This mobo comes bursting with pack-ins like Thunderbolt 3 ports, Wi-Fi radios and Gigabit Ethernet ports for networking connectivity, and much, much more. A 360-mm liquid cooler, 64 GB of fast RAM, and a high-quality case and PSU round out this monster desktop.

 

Operating system

If you’re building a gaming PC and need an operating system for it, we think you’ll be happiest with Windows. Windows 10 comes in a wide range of versions, but most builders reading this should choose the retail version of Windows 10 Home, which comes on a USB drive with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions for $120. It’s no longer kosher to purchase an OEM copy of Windows for your own PC to save a few bucks, and the retail version of Windows comes with a couple of perks like license transfer rights that the OEM version doesn’t. If you suspect that you might need some of the features in Windows 10 Pro, you should check out Microsoft’s comparison page for confirmation and purchase accordingly.

If you’re wondering about previous versions of Windows, they’re really long in the tooth now. The ill-informed might ascribe some sort of technical superiority to Windows 7 at this stage, but it’s hard to even install that aging OS on modern hardware. Aside from that, many manufacturers are dropping or have dropped driver support for older operating systems altogether, making anything other than the current version of Windows a dead end for updates and support. If you want to take advantage of the latest DirectX 12 titles that we’ve been hearing so much about, Windows 10 is a must.

What’s next

Other than the price variations caused by crypto-currency mining, the graphics card world has been quiet for a good while now—a little too quiet, in fact. There are numerous rumors floating claiming that Nvidia will be launching its next-generation graphics cards in the next few months. Assuming that’s true for a second, we’re undecided as whether the company will brand them 1100-series after the current models or switch to 20-series naming, but we expect they’d be based on the impressive Volta architecture used in Nvidia’s HPC products or a derivative thereof.

Over at the Radeon Technologies Group, however, we don’t expect much news for gamers this year. While AMD has been enjoying the revenue stream from selling every GPU it can make, the flip side is that few of the resulting graphics cards from AMD’s partners have been getting into gamers’ hands. Even though it’s been a good while since AMD released its Radeon RX 500-series and RX Vega graphics cards, the company’s graphics roadmap from early this year suggests the RTG plans to hold the course outside of some new mobile and server products. That means Nvidia may launch its next-generation products unopposed when they do arrive.

Where AMD is shining, though, is in processors. Desktop Ryzen processors have earned spots throughout our System Guides ever since their release, and the existing 2000-series chips are fantastic performers at their price points. That lineup isn’t complete yet, however, as the only available models are the high-end Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X, along with their non-X counterparts.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of the desktop Ryzen lineup arrive soon, and we’re particularly interested in possible Ryzen 3 2300 or Ryzen 5 2500 chips, since those parts have the potential to really shake up our low-end and mid-range build recommendations. Second-generation Ryzen Threadripper processors are supposed to arrive later this year, too, and the higher clocks of Zen+ parts bode well for the performance of those many-core chips.

Over in the Intel CPU aisle, throughput demons might expect new high-end processors for the X299 platform sometime this year. Historically, the company’s done two generations of processors for every high-end platform, and although the existing Skylake-X processors are fast as heck, they’re also getting a little long in the tooth (and no, the short-lived Kaby Lake-X chips don’t count as a generation). Additionally, AMD’s Threadripper CPUs give competing Intel models more than a run for their money, and we think the boys in blue just won’t let that stand for too long.

Intel’s Coffee Lake desktop lineup is well fleshed-out by now, but there could be an additional chip coming to that family. There have been almost as many rumors about an eight-core Coffee Lake CPU as we get for a new iPhone. This purported potent processor could have as much as 16 MB of L3 cache, and if one is to follow the logic behind existing models, it’ll also likely have sky-high clocks and shockingly low memory latencies. Those characteristics could make this chip a serious competitor to AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X or even a potentially upcoming Ryzen 7 2800X.

And on that note, it’s a wrap, folks. If one of our parts picks helped you solve a head-scratcher, or you’re cribbing one of our sample builds for your own use, please become a TR subscriber if you haven’t already. Be sure to purchase any of our picks using the links peppered throughout this guide, too. Your support helps us to continue the in-depth research and reviews that make guides like this one possible. Have fun building your new system—we’re sure it’ll turn out great.

Comments closed
    • DevilsCanyonSoul
    • 1 year ago

    Grab an AM4 2700 on sale and use the money saved to up your power supply or get a more intriguing case. The difference between the 2700 and the 2700X is stupid small.

    • allreadydead
    • 1 year ago

    Hey, I just checked out this guide and I think there is something off on middle ground build’s RAM. It says it’s 2×8 GB RAM but the link goes to the 2×4 GB ones. The price also is the 8 GB one.

    I was too excited to see 16 gigs of RAM for $108 but it turned out it’s 2×4 GB :\

    • tanker27
    • 1 year ago

    I wish you guys would at least do a micro/mini setup or dorm PC and offer a few alternatives. A lot of us (well I don’t , anymore) don’t really care for the full-on ATX case’s and mobos on our desks. Those things are shoved in closets and such and are only RDP to. 😛

      • superjawes
      • 1 year ago

      Maybe start up a supplemental thread in SBA? I have a feeling that a few posters would be quick to provide some alternative parts/builds, and that could be a neat way to develop a variety of task/location/size-specific builds to meet gerbil needs.

    • msroadkill612
    • 1 year ago

    We usually dont realise til later in life, that the most costly component of anything, is of course the time we invested in it.

    The APU has a future, an intel/1030 kludge PC at this pricepoint, barely has a present.

    The apu has a learning curve worth investing in – cutting edge Zen & Vega, dovetailed via the awesome Fabric bus (as are cpu, memory controller and nvme port.)

    Architecturally, APUs are a very class act.

    APUs are an ~exact (other than HBCC & gpu cache afaik) replica of a $10k+ zen/vega professional workstation, all reduced to a single module smaller than a credit card~.

    Any development work funded by professional’s deep pockets, trickles down to identical zen & vega processors on apuS.

    I suspect its unique in the history of PCs for entry level to be, if anything, THE most advanced platform (as it is so miniaturised).

    Because the fundamental resources are so integrated and the architecture so fresh, there is much room to improve drivers etc. Performance will improve, just as ryzens has.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 1 year ago

      [quote<]APUs are an ~exact (other than HBCC & gpu cache afaik) replica of a $10k+ zen/vega professional workstation, all reduced to a single module smaller than a credit card~. Any development work funded by professional's deep pockets, trickles down to identical zen & vega processors on apuS. I suspect its unique in the history of PCs for entry level to be, if anything, THE most advanced platform (as it is so miniaturised). [/quote<] And yet it still can't play Crysis...

        • jarder
        • 1 year ago

        seems to play just fine here:
        [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN6laLpBTUA[/url<] 60+ fps at 720p medium settings. Note: please dont's see this post as an endorsement of the original post, I've no idea what msroadkill612 is talking about...

          • Kretschmer
          • 1 year ago

          Downgrading to 720P is struggling, not playing.

        • Concupiscence
        • 1 year ago

        I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t. The Ryzen’s considerably faster than any CPU available during Crysis’ heyday, and its GPU is probably faster than any single card available in late 2007.

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      I care about how a part performs in my rig, not how “elegant” it is on paper. Bulldozer was an “interesting” solution, too.

      Since the only time you have invested in the parts is how long it takes you to install them, a discrete GPU + CPU must be more valuable to you. 🙂

        • K-L-Waster
        • 1 year ago

        Exactly. The history of tech is full of solutions that on paper were superior but that ultimately lost the market share war. Micro-Channel vs. ICA and PCI, Firewire vs. USB, Mac OS vs. Windows… we could go on, but I think we get the point.

        Being elegant is much less important than bang-for-buck.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 1 year ago

    Thoughts on using hybrid drives? I’d love to see a test comparing daily usage responsiveness on a hybrid HDD vs a budget SSD, along with gaming tests (loading and texture/object streaming, like in Arma 3 or GTAV).

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 1 year ago

    So now that there is a special going on for Ryzen 7 1700x being about the same price as the Ryzen 5 2600X, which is better? Are they interchangeable?

      • K-L-Waster
      • 1 year ago

      1700X has 2 more cores.

      2600X has higher boost clocks and more granular XFR behavior.

      They are socket compatible.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 1 year ago

    How big of a disadvantage is the 3GB 1060 at compared to the 6GB today? At 1080p? Because the price difference is about a hundred bucks.

    • Kretschmer
    • 1 year ago

    That APU build seems sort of forced just to use the APU. You’re saving like $20 vs. a discrete GPU for a performance wallop. And the 1030 iteself is a questionable proposition. It would seem to make more sense to have these builds:

    Non-Gaming Econobox: Pentium, etc.
    Gaming Econobox: i3 8100 or Pentium with a 1050 2GB.

    The 1050 is twice the performance of the 1030 for $50 more (Gigabyte even has a 1050 on Newegg for $130 after rebate).

      • dragontamer5788
      • 1 year ago

      The APU build saves $20 but has an SSD instead of a Hard Drive.

      Actually, the APU build has superior parts all around aside from the iGPU. The Ryzen 5 is 4-core / 8-threads and got a boost-clock of 3.9GHz. While the i3-8100 is locked to 3.6GHz (no turbo) and only 4-core/4-threads.

      So sure, the i3-8100 has superior gaming performance, but that’s about it. The Ryzen 5 build has superior storage (SSD), superior CPU, and superior RAM.

        • Kretschmer
        • 1 year ago

        At the end of the day, you want GPU oomph for gaming. And if you’re not gaming, why go with an APU? Note that the GT 1030 build includes a comment about swapping spinning rust for a SSD.

        Once you realize that a 1050 is an additional $40 over the 1030 (or $30 with MIR), both the APU and 1030 seem pointless.

          • dragontamer5788
          • 1 year ago

          Depends on what you’re “gaming”.

          Stardew Valley, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Jamestown, Cuphead, Castle of Illusions starring Mickey Mouse (3d remake), Touhou series, Rocket League, Trails in the Sky, Valkyria Chronicles. Factorio. Cities Skylines, Civ5, Age of Empires, Overwatch.

          These games need some oomph. Rocket League in particular is a fast-paced 3d game that requires a bit of oomph, but you don’t really need more than an APU (with highly clocked RAM) or 1030 to play it.

          In essence: drop the resolution to 720p, achieve 60fps (very important in Rocket League or overwatch) and you need more than an Intel iGPU, but an AMD iGPU or 1030 is [b<]more[/b<] than sufficient. Anything more is gross overkill. I know, because I can play these on my laptop APU just fine. Not everyone plays Witcher 3 or Rise of the Tomb Raider (or PubG, man that game is poorly optimized...) . Modern 2d platformers are indeed quite excellent (see Cuphead / Castle of Illusions), and I think games like "Factorio", Cities: Skylines, and Puyo Puyo Tetris are kinda superior anyway. But that's my taste.

            • Kretschmer
            • 1 year ago

            Yeah that’s fair. With RAM prices the way they are, I’d still recommend a dGPU in case the user wants to run at native rez or try a more demanding game. With such a small price differential it’s good to get that extra horsepower.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 1 year ago

            If the budget for your new PC is extremely tight, the integrated Vega graphics in the Ryzen G processor are surprisingly good at older games. If you had enough money in the budget to buy a GPU, I would recommend against wasting it on a GeForce GT1030 that’s already inadequate for modern games at decent resolutions. I believe that if you’re going to bother to spend money on a discrete GPU you want to get at least a Radeon RX560 4GiB or GeForce GTX1050Ti 4GiB card.

            • Kretschmer
            • 1 year ago

            I agree on the discrete recommendation of a 1050+, as a 1050 is actually more bang for the buck than a 1030.

            If your budget is extremely tight, it would make more sense to save for another month or whatever to get a system with longer legs and shorter replacement time.

            I think APUs are cool, but people fetishize them for the novelty instead of approaching them like any other CPU + GPU solution.

        • Pancake
        • 1 year ago

        The APU build saves 13 bucks but throw in the difference to go SSD then the Intel build is < $30 more or not even 6%. The APU needs all the RAM help it can get as it has to share bandwidth between CPU and graphics. It’ll also cost more to upgrade.

        So, 6% more for:

        “The GT 1030 clears the 33.3-ms overall 99th-percentile frame time we want for a good gaming experience by a wide margin, while the Ryzen 5 2400G just falls short of it.”

        Well, that’s 6% well spent.

    • notfred
    • 1 year ago

    With new variants of Spectre (3a and 4) popping up a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to hold off on building anything for about a year.

    I figure by then the researchers will have found all the ways in which speculative execution is broken, and the chip builders will be building new chips without needing potentially performance sapping workarounds in the microcode.

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      I don’t know if you can turn around fixes in the silicon that quickly.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 1 year ago

      I understand the intent, but I think you’re being a little optimistic on when hardware mitigations will be available. It’s not likely to be something that can be fixed without a new chip design.

      Even then, it’s questionable how complete the fix would be. Branch prediction is just too useful to give up.

    • HERETIC
    • 1 year ago

    My budget end of the lineup would have the following changes-

    1. Granny box/basic office,
    Basically the Eco-Alt,with Pentium/Celeron CPU,better PSU, SSD, no GPU–less than $400

    2.Basic box-some light games.
    Basically Eco-box with 2200G, and a better PSU. Around $430.

    3.Entry level gaming.
    Eco-Alt with 1050/1050Ti, a SSD as well as spinning rust, and a better PSU. probably close
    to $700

    Next step would be-8600 or 2600x and 1070/1070Ti

    EDIT
    Use a better SSD.Cost will go up a little.
    Ram-less SSD’s are a big NO-NO for a boot drive.

    • jihadjoe
    • 1 year ago

    Why not go straight for the 7980XE for the all-out build? When the total system cost is already pushing $8300 another $300 probably won’t hurt.

      • Krogoth
      • 1 year ago

      The extra two cores do almost nothing in most high-end workloads. I suspect resource contention and cache cohesion starts to becoming an problematic issue.

        • dragontamer5788
        • 1 year ago

        But Optane vs NVMe almost does nothing in most high-end workloads, and that price difference is bigger than the 7980XE vs 7960X. Titan V vs 1080 Ti barely does anything in most workloads as well. And the ones where the Titan V do better, you’re probably in the market for the “real” Tesla V instead.

        I generally see “all out” builds as a representation of the highest-end parts across the board. 7960X is not really “all out” from my eyes.

        [quote<]I suspect resource contention and cache cohesion starts to becoming an problematic issue.[/quote<] Multiprocessing always benefits. If one "Blender" can't take your utilization to 100%, then run 16x Blenders. I'm literally speaking from experience here. Yeah, just run Blender 16x. "Overwrite = false" and "Placeholders = true" allows for the 16-instances of Blender to work on different frames of animation simultaneously, without any communication between each instance. Adobe Premier not giving 100% utilization? Stuck at ~50% ?? Run a 2nd Adobe Premier, and have that 2nd one "always be rendering" in the background. And edit your video in the 1st instance. Etc. etc. There's always a way to use more processing power. EDIT: Well, assuming you have enough RAM of course. RAM limitations are real with these programs.

        • jarder
        • 1 year ago

        Typical. Just today, my boss landed a new i9-7980XE on my desk (with all the trimmings, 128GB RAM, GTX1080 etc.) but after reading this comment I feel disappointed!

          • morphine
          • 1 year ago

          Oh, you poor baby. 😛

    • Yan
    • 1 year ago

    Cripes, the GPUs go directly from $ 90 to $ 330, with nothing in between!

      • morphine
      • 1 year ago

      Well yeah, what’s in between those figures just isn’t worth the outlay ($150 for a GTX 1050 2 GB, no thanks). Or it’s worth even less than the 1060 6 GB at $320+ depending on how you look at it.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        It sucks when the value isn’t comparable all throughout the low-to-middle section of the price range. A GTX 1050 Ti 4GB is also about half the GPU for like 65% of the price. The 2GB 1050 is more like 40% of the GPU for 50% of the price. It’s terrible and miners should feel terrible. 😆

      • msroadkill612
      • 1 year ago

      Yeah, decision logic gets very weird on that.

      Its like – reviews compare the closest dgpu they can include at an APUprice point for comparison, but if anybody decides to go the dgpu route, there is no way he will buy that comparison gpu.

      The reality is, the next step up from apuS is an expensive one as you say.

      If I did hover, but lean toward the dgpu route, i would remain all amd like the apu, and invest as little as possible in the next best thing to unaffordable Vega dgpu, the previous generation polaris rx560. Not great, but better than apu or 1030 gaming, and more cpu power, which IS good buying now.

      Vega could really use 7nm, and amd are fast tracking it.

      Things will be very different in 6 months. Spending serious money on a gpu right now doesnt appeal.

    • uni-mitation
    • 1 year ago

    1- Would TR be open in the future to doing a component breakdown guide instead of sample builds?

    Please up-vote to show the demand and interest for such intensive level of work. I would definitely appreciate it.

    uni-mitation

      • Ninjitsu
      • 1 year ago

      Yeah I really miss the old format. This just doesn’t feel at useful or extensive. Not seeing the options prevents tailoring to what I or someone else would have available locally.

      • Phartindust
      • 1 year ago

      They used to do it that way in the past, which I liked. I also like these sample builds though. Perhaps a melding of the two styles?

      [url<]https://techreport.com/review/26082/tr-february-2014-system-guide[/url<]

      • FireGryphon
      • 1 year ago

      I liked the old format better, too, but its downside was that the staff wrote about hardware it never actually tested (but instead had read about online). This came back to bite me when I purchased parts for a build out of a System Guide and realized they didn’t actually work well together. On top of that, the parts had limitations and problems that TR never talked about in the system guide blurbs, though they would have been obvious especially in a thorough TR review, had those existed. This experience was years ago.

      I’d rather the old format return, but only if the included hardware was actually tested by TR staff.

      • Yan
      • 1 year ago

      I needed a new motherboard for my Ryzen CPU, and the only help I got from this guide (unless I was willing to pay $ 230) was that it listed two motherboards without giving any comments.
      🙁

      In comparison, the last guide in the previous format mentioned three motherboards and gave comments on all three.

    • dragontamer5788
    • 1 year ago

    Hmm, Threadripper is massive. I mean, utterly, utterly huge. No “normal” heatsink will do, because most heatsinks are too small to cover the entire Threadripper package.

    [url=https://i.imgur.com/iSQ4nkJ.png< ]Don't believe me? Just look at it.[/url<] The recommended Celsius S36 is a "normal" heatsink, designed for normal Ryzen 2700x or i7-8700k. Its not actually an extended heat-plate, it just has a mounting bracket that only partially covers the Threadripper. Instead, you should be recommending either the Noctua U14S TR4 edition (https://noctua.at/en/nh-u14s-tr4-sp3) , an air-cooler that does better than most generic liquid coolers if ONLY because it has a [b<]properly[/b<]-sized heatplate. Or, you can go full liquid with the Liqtech TR4 240 / 280 / 360, depending on the size of the radiator you want. Under [b<]no[/b<] circumstances should you be putting "normal size" heat-plates on Threadripper. The socket is too big, and your cooling will be SEVERELY hampered.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 1 year ago

      Having actually used Asetek coolers on Threadripper CPUs the cooling performance is fine and nowhere near as dramatically hampered as you’re making it out to be.

        • dragontamer5788
        • 1 year ago

        I’ll admit that I was probably overdramatic. So let me dial it back and stick to the facts this time, with fewer embellishments.

        Numerous reviews demonstrate that TR4 specific heatplates outperform normal heatplates. It’s simple physics: more copper, more surface area, better connection to the cooler.

        [url<]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FOHk1GyS8r4[/url<] [url<]https://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreviews/3119-360-vs-240-for-threadripper-enermax-liqtech-vs-noctua[/url<] Liquid coolers lose to air. Not really though, [url=https://www.gamersnexus.net/images/media/2017/CPUs/tr-1950x/amd-threadripper-coldplate-1.jpg<]it's about the heatplate and the sheer size of the TR4 socket[/url<]. "Normal" coolers just don't fit.

          • uni-mitation
          • 1 year ago

          Point well-made. Thank you for the sources.

          uni-mitation

          • msroadkill612
          • 1 year ago

          Whatever ends up used, the central heat problem is that it is concentrated.

          Anything which decentralises the heat helps.

          So why not lengths of stripped scrap 10/15A solid wire e.g., to transfer heat from the heatpipe (crimp them with a hose clamp) e.g. to a close & suitable point on the chassis? It warms the chassis, but more importantly, cools the processor.

        • kalelovil
        • 1 year ago

        The difference can be pretty dramatic:
        [url<]https://www.anandtech.com/show/12454/analyzing-threadripper-cooling-big-base-cooling-wins/5[/url<]

          • Usacomp2k3
          • 1 year ago

          Wow. 11* difference is pretty significant. That might even correspond to a boost step.

        • Kretschmer
        • 1 year ago

        It still seems silly to hold back a $900 chip to save $20 or $40. If you thermally miss out on one boost level you’re in the red.

          • Jeff Kampman
          • 1 year ago

          Except you’re not “holding it back.” I’ve seen the full XFR boost on top of whatever a Threadripper 1950X is naturally capable of with even a generic Asetek pump on top of it.

            • dragontamer5788
            • 1 year ago

            My chief concern is price/performance.

            The $80 air cooler (with a [b<]proper[/b<] heatplate) probably holds lower temperatures than your $120 recommendation (or at least, similar AIO coolers 2x120mm ). And the air cooler will fit in more cases (another opportunity to save money) and have fewer parts that possibly fail (ex: no pump) The $130 liquid cooler I've mentioned elsewhere is also a 3x120mm design, but holds ~17C lower temperatures than your recommendation due to a proper heatsink. For $10 more, you get far lower temperatures, leading to longer turbos, lower-leakage and slight benefits to CPU energy efficiency. No matter how you cut it, the Celsius S36 (which is a perfectly fine cooler, on a i7-8700k or Ryzen 7 2700x, like it was designed for), isn't big enough for Threadripper. This fundamental design flaw causes you to either waste money (compared to the $80 air-cooler option), or have severely compromised performance (compared to the $130 liquid cooler competition). EDIT: [quote<]Except you're not "holding it back." I've seen the full XFR boost on top of whatever a Threadripper 1950X is naturally capable of with even a generic Asetek pump on top of it. [/quote<] In case its not clear, I fully believe you. Other tests have shown that the cooler you recommended provides adequate cooling. With regards to providing 180W of cooling performance, the Celsius S36 probably works (and probably works above and beyond 180W). Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if the Celsius S36 could get a slight overclock. But you're writing about a high-end build in those paragraphs. And there are clearly more cost-effective solutions out there in the market. Anyone who builds a $3000+ computer only to realize that their cooler can't turbo and/or hold temperatures as well as a proper TR4-specific air-cooler will probably be pissed. For absolute best cooling performance, you should recommend a TR4 specific cooler on the Threadripper build.

      • Krogoth
      • 1 year ago

      Any of the HSF solution that is are compatible for socket TR4 has enough coverage over the area where the dies would be located.

      It is only an issue if you would attempt to aggressively overclock/overvolt a Threadripper.

        • dragontamer5788
        • 1 year ago

        Why spend $120 on a liquid cooler when the $80 air cooler literally does better and will fit in far more cases than a 3x120mm radiator??

        Total cost savings with going for the $80 air cooler will be more than just the $40, because you can downsize to a smaller case while you’re at it. Save $40 off the case + $40 off the cooler for the same performance, although you might need +$20 or so on a few more case fans.

        The heat-plate size matters. You’re getting poor price/performance on the Celsius S36, if only because the [url=https://www.gamersnexus.net/images/media/2017/CPUs/tr-1950x/amd-threadripper-coldplate-1.jpg<]Celsius S36 IS LITERALLY SMALLER than Threadripper[/url<]. [quote<]has enough coverage over the area where the dies would be located. [/quote<] EDIT: [url=https://www.gamersnexus.net/images/media/2017/CPUs/tr-1950x/amd-threadripper-grid-2.jpg<]Here they penciled-in the die-locations of Threadripper[/url<]. Notice that the screw-holes directly go over the underlying die / hot-spots of the CPU. You'll need a lot of thermal-paste in those screw-holes to compensate, and you will never get the full performance of a properly sized cooler. So unless you consider "air gaps" to be adequate coverage for the dies / hot-spots, then no. You actually don't have a good connection at all to the hot-spots. Threadripper's massive socket-size is a [b<]problem[/b<] that builders need to be aware of. Its an excellent processor, but you should properly plan things out. Noctua's $80 Air Cooler has a properly sized heatplate, you'll save money, have higher compatibility, be far quieter and still cool the chip better. Its win/win all around if you just plan things correctly. ------------------ You're right. A $120+ or $130+ liquid cooler will work. Tests don't lie, people have successfully built many Threadrippers and even overclocked them on normal coolers. But in doing so, you'd waste a bit of money and lose a significant amount of cooling potential.

    • raddude9
    • 1 year ago
      • uni-mitation
      • 1 year ago

      I think I would loved to see something unexpected like an Athlon X4 950 for the alternative adventurer econo-box. This chip is a trooper for the money; gaming performance would be better improved putting the money you are saving into a beefier graphics card.

      uni-mitation

        • ozzuneoj
        • 1 year ago

        Every time I read one of your posts I think you’re ending it with the term unimation as if somehow summarizing your post in a single word.

        Just thought I’d say that after reading it that way a dozen times…

          • uni-mitation
          • 1 year ago

          That’s fine meanwhile you definitely don’t conclude any shadowy org is behind this. Definitely don’t use [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urglg3WimHA<] foil [/url<]. It is not a mind-control ploy or anything like, believe me. uni-mitation

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 1 year ago

          You should probably apply Hanlon’s Razor in this case.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 1 year ago

    I was going to ask if the 1050 paired with the i3 would be a worthwhile use of money…then I saw they’re north of 200 on amazon.

    Good lord, what’ll it take to make GPUs come down to earth?

      • Stochastic
      • 1 year ago

      Series 11-GPUs from Nvidia hopefully.

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      1050s are down to $140 ($130 with MIR) on NewEgg.

      • morphine
      • 1 year ago

      Capacitor aging vs. relative inexpense of going up the ladder.

      By that we mean that all PSUs lose capacity as they age, and usually a step or two up in wattage is relatively inexpensive (for example, 550W Gold-rated PSUs are like $80). We figure it’s just a better idea to spend a little more and ensure that the PSU will be usable for the next two or three builds at least.

        • SecretMaster
        • 1 year ago

        I wouldn’t have thought of that! Makes total sense to me. Thanks!

        • Jeff Kampman
        • 1 year ago

        On top of this, peak efficiency for most PC power supplies isn’t close to their rated wattage, but rather towards the middle of the load curve. We tend to go a little bigger than required for that reason, as well.

          • BillyBuerger
          • 1 year ago

          I won’t argue going with too much PSU in most case for the reasons that have already been stated. But, while efficiency does drop off near the high end of the power range, it’s usually a relatively slow and shallow decrease. 80plus itself defines about a 3% decrease between 50% and 100% loads. So the difference between using a PSU at anything between 40% and 80% of it’s output is likely not more then 1-2% efficiency.

          Unless you are getting into multi-CPU and multi-GPU systems, 1kW+ PSUs are just for show.

          • jensend
          • 1 year ago

          As Buerger says, tests of modern PSUs show the top of the efficiency curve is generally pretty level from about 40% to 80% of the PSU capacity, and efficiency only drops a couple percentage points at the top.

          The 10-core skylake 1080TI setup secretmaster mentioned, drawing 390 watts at stock clocks or 430 OC’d at full load, is within the high-efficiency regime for a decent 600W PSU. The sweet spot build, with its 1070TI, is well within the high efficiency realm for a 450W PSU.

            • Jeff Kampman
            • 1 year ago

            That all goes out the window when you overclock Skylake-X CPUs. We’re building in a margin of safety for the person who might want to overclock those high-end components, too.

        • HERETIC
        • 1 year ago

        Could someone please explain that to the cx450 with cheap low end components……………….

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          That Ryzen 2400G system will draw a max of around 120W from the wall. I know that because it’s basically the system I use every day. Even 450W is overkill.

            • Ninjitsu
            • 1 year ago

            I’d still suggest the Seasonic S12II 430W instead, in that case.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 1 year ago

            Mine has an S12II 620W because it’s what I had in the system prior to downgrading. Not the most efficient choice, but it conserved money.

            • HERETIC
            • 1 year ago

            My comment was related to quality not quantity.
            Ideal PSU would be something like-Seasonic G360

          • morphine
          • 1 year ago

          Even just $20 makes a lot of difference in the low-end builds. Besides, those machines will be lucky to pull 100 W from the wall at full tilt.

        • jensend
        • 1 year ago

        Any evidence whatsoever, or is this just an urban legend?

        I think serious overspeccing for capacitor aging is largely a matter of myth. Maybe there was some modicum of evidence to back it up in the heady days of 1999 and PSUs of questionable quality. I don’t think there’s any data showing it’s real for quality units produced in the last dozen years. Especially if you aren’t operating at constant full load for years and years.

        If there’s still a rational reason to buy larger PSUs, I guess maybe it’s because manufacturers often use some higher quality components in their high capacity parts. But that’s not inevitable or guaranteed. Looking at a jonnyguru teardown is better than guessing that “OMG look it’s 1100W it must be quality.”

          • dragontamer5788
          • 1 year ago

          [quote<]If there's still a rational reason to buy larger PSUs, I guess maybe it's because manufacturers often use some higher quality components in their high capacity parts. But that's not inevitable or guaranteed. Looking at a jonnyguru teardown is better than guessing that "OMG look it's 1100W it must be quality." [/quote<] I agree. In a "quality" build, I personally think its more important to go up a series than to go up in wattage. Corsair's CX series is famously low-end, while Corsair's HX series is one of the best in the entire market. HX offers tighter voltage regulation, better efficiency (an 80% Bronze cooler at 500W draw will waste 125W for a total draw of 625W. A 92% Platinum cooler will waste only 43W for a total draw of 543W), and better capacitors from more reputable companies. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. But you still gotta do research to ensure that you're getting a good value.

          • ColeLT1
          • 1 year ago

          I wish I could find the site/article but in the past few months it made it to the shortbread or somewhere on techreport, maybe someone can link it. So they had a PSU revisit on couple of older high end PSUs. One was so big that (coolermaster?) gave it its own case to fit it. Anyway both PSUs (that previously were tested) were retested and both failed to make the rated power. One bricked and died completely and the other took a plug pull reset to power back on. I do think they passed 75% load though?

      • Star Brood
      • 1 year ago

      Aren’t PSUs most efficient at ~40% usage under load?

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 1 year ago

        [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80_Plus[/url<] 80-Plus Gold power supplies are required to be at least 87% efficient across the range from 20% to 100% of their design capacity. You can see the efficiency curve on the manufacturer's page for the SeaSonic Focus Plus Gold unit in TR's Sweet Spot build: [url<]https://seasonic.com/focus-plus-gold[/url<] If you intend to routinely operate at less than 20% of the capacity of your massive power supply, you may want to consider an 80+ Titanium model.

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