How has the PC market evolved in the past few months for builders and gamers alike?

Well, Nvidia got its Ada Lovelace GPU architecture into the reach of more enthusiasts with the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti, and more recently the RTX 4070, bringing not only better performance and efficiency than their predecessors, but also better performance per dollar.

AMD has released its non-X Ryzen 7000 processors, which are not only more affordable than the X versions (on paper) but also more efficient out of the box. Combined with affordable AMD B650 motherboards, and sliding DDR5 memory prices, that has made the AM5 platform much more attractive to value seekers.

Finally, AMD has launched the V-Cache enabled Ryzen 7000X3D series, matching or beating Intel's Core i9-13900K in most games while using about half the power. Now that it's available for its $450 MSRP, the 16-thread Ryzen 7 7800X3D also provides much better value for gaming than its direct competitors.

In all-core workloads, Intel is only able to match Zen 4 when comparing CPUs with the same number of threads, also while using more power, so you'd need a pretty specific reason to buy a new Intel-based system these days. With the current Threadripper 5000 series offering expensive Pro models only, the Ryzen 9 7900 series may be the most sensible choice for core-heavy workloads unless you need something powerful for your business needs.

Where Intel has become competitive is the mainstream graphics cards department, with the Arc A750 and A770 offering solid value thanks to price cuts and driver updates that improve performance in older games.

With all of that going, it seems that the main question is, should you buy the latest and greatest, or settle for older and more affordable parts? In this PC Buying Guide update we've included four recommended component lists, meant for different budgets and purposes...

The Utility Box $450

* Solid performance * Fast multitasking * Entry-level gaming

The Value Gaming Rig $1,100

* Excellent performance * Great multitasking * Perfect for gaming

The High-End Gaming Machine $1,900

* High-end performance * Heavy multitasking * Hardcore gaming

The Growable Workstation $3,500

* Workstation-like performance * Extreme multitasking * Hardcore gaming

Our recommendations were influenced by availability and pricing at the time of writing. If a component from the list that you were considering is unavailable or significantly more expensive while you are reading this guide, fear not. We include explanations for every one of our choices, so that you can make alternative and informed purchases.

The Utility Box

* Solid performance * Fast multitasking * Entry-level gaming

Despite its low price, this system is good for web browsing with tens of open tabs, 1080p live streaming, and even entry-level gaming. Add a graphics card, and this build will become even more capable in that area.

Component Product   Price
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 5600G   $140
Motherboard MSI Pro B550M-VC   $120
Memory 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200+ CL16   $37
Storage Western Digital SN570 1TB   $53
Graphics Integrated   $0
PSU Enermax CyberBron 500W   $40
Case Fractal Design Focus G Mini   $55
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: The doctor is in by yopoyo

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is a great deal at $140, offering 12 threads and capable integrated graphics. With a 65W TDP, it should be kept cool by the stock cooler in a properly ventilated case.

When relying on the CPU's integrated graphics, it may also be important for the motherboard to have both DisplayPort and HDMI ports for monitor compatibility. The MSI Pro B550M-VC is an updated version of the popular Pro B550M-VDH, with decent thermal performance, 4 memory slots, and two M.2 slots for storage. The full-sized Pro B550-VC, replacing the Pro B550-A, adds USB-C and much more impressive heatsinks for $10 more.

A 16GB dual-channel memory kit is the minimum we'd recommend today. Many such kits are available for under $40, so just pick the one you like the best. With no PCIe 4.0 support on the CPU, WD's 1TB SN570 becomes the best value SSD, saturating the PCIe 3.0 interface in short file transfers.

The Enermax Cyberbron is our budget PSU recommendation, with ratings of 500W and 80 Plus Bronze efficiency, and 5-year warranty. If you want a semi-modular design that lets you disconnect the cables you don't need, you'll need to spend $15 more on the Thermaltake Smart BM2 550W.

For our choice of an mATX motherboard, we can go with an equally compact mATX case, and so we did as an ATX case would look empty without a graphics card. Fractal Design's Focus G Mini combines old and new, with two external 5.25" bays and top 240mm radiator support. If you don't need those things, the Thermaltake Versa H18 is a good alternative for the same price. If you do want to install a graphics card (and especially if you go with a full-ATX motherboard), you may prefer the full-sized Focus G.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

If you are considering this system, then we're assuming that you'd prefer work comfort over gaming performance. Yet, with current prices, we see no reason not to go with a "gaming" monitor that offers refresh rates up to 165Hz (we wrote a guide on how to enable them) in addition to an IPS panel and a height-adjustable stand.

The HP X27q is a great 1440p option when available for about $200. More options for different budgets can be found in our best monitors feature.

Logitech's highly ergonomic MK570 is our recommended keyboard and mouse combo at this price point. For more options, see our lists of best keyboards and mice.

The Value Gaming Rig

* Excellent performance * Great multitasking * Perfect for gaming

This PC is meant for those who want to get the best experience for their money in the latest games, while keeping many upgrade options available.

Component Product   Price
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 7600   $220
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black   $45
Motherboard Gigabyte B650M DS3H   $150
Memory 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL30   $125
Storage Western Digital SN850X 2TB   $160
Graphics AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT   $270
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 650W   $94
Case NZXT 510 Flow   $90
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: First Baby Boy by Ryukocha

The 12-thread Ryzen 5 7600 is the cheapest Zen 4 CPU, and not far in gaming performance from the best ones. The Gigabyte B650M DS3H is by far the best-value B650 motherboard, and will be able to handle a serious CPU upgrade in the future.

Our CPU of choice ships with the middling Wraith Stealth cooler, which you should probably replace with something better. We chose the Pure Rock 2 Black from Be Quiet! for its combination of looks, compact size, acoustic efficiency and price. The Arctic Freezer 34 eSports Duo and the Noctua U12S Redux would also work fine.

DDR5-6000 is the sweet spot for Ryzen 7000 processors when it comes to memory speed. With small price differences between same-speed kits, you might as well choose one of the kits with the lowest latency.

The WD Black SN850X is one of the best SSDs on the market, with bus-saturating PCIe 4.0 performance, efficient operation and Game Mode 2.0, which may become valuable once PC games start using DirectStorage. These days, it's not even more expensive than older PCIe 4.0 drives such as the Samsung 980 Pro.

The Intel Arc A750 has become a solid 1440p GPU if you want to give it a try, basically matching the Radeon RX 6600 which is the cheapest GPU we'd recommend buying new. Don't waste your time or money on the Radeon RX 6500 XT which is a laptop GPU in disguise, and since its release things in the sub-$200 segment have gotten worse and worse. The Radeon RX 6600 will consistently outperform Nvidia's more expensive GeForce RTX 3050 by a large margin. For our build recommendation we pushed things a bit further. Thanks to recent discounts, the Radeon 6650 XT is a good upgrade option. For an extra 20% over the vanilla model, you get 20% more performance.

The Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 PSU provides 650W at 80 Plus Gold-level efficiency, a 10-year warranty and a fully modular design. The case we chose for this build is the NZXT Flow 510, but the Corsair 4000D Airflow is just as good when priced similarly.

If you plan to put your PC on a desk, you may prefer the shorter Lian Li 011 Air Mini. If you want a case with external 5.25" drive bays and more internal drive bays, check out our best old-school cases guide. Anyway, our general best cases guide includes more great options for under $100.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

The RX 6650 XT is capable of 1440p gaming at 60 fps with high settings, or at higher refresh rates with lower settings or in less-demanding games. The HP X27q will let you do all of that on a 27" IPS display for a fair price, but the Gigabyte M27Q Pro is a better choice when available for a similar price. Clearly, there are dozens of good monitor options you can choose from and that's why we have entire guides dedicated to monitor shopping and gaming monitors especifically.

The Logitech G502 Hero is a safe bet for a mouse, and so is Corsair's K55 RGB Pro for a keyboard. If you prefer mechanical keys and a compact size over a numpad and a detachable wrist rest, you can go with Redragon's K552 RGB Kumara. Once again, our best gaming monitors, mice and keyboards guides include more options for more specific needs and budgets.

The High-End Gaming Machine

* High-end performance * Heavy multitasking * Hardcore gaming

This gaming PC build is for those of you who care less about performance per dollar, and more about absolute performance and the latest features. With the latest high-end GPUs, gaming at resolutions higher than 1440p is a sensible option, and this build will let you do just that.

Component Product   Price
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D   $450
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black   $45
Motherboard Gigabyte B650 Aorus Elite AX   $220
Memory 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL30   $125
Storage Western Digital Black SN850X 2TB   $160
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070   $600
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower GF3 850W   $140
Case Cooler Master MasterCase H500   $140
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: My latest build by mattw8489

AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D isn't just one of the best gaming processors, but also the most efficient one, keeping cool by the same compact coolers we recommended for the previous build. The Gigabyte B650 Aorus Elite AX is a popular motherboard with support for PCIe 5.0 and USB 3.2 ("Gen 2 x 2"). Our memory and storage recommendations remain the same as in the previous build.

If you are set on Nvidia's Ada architecture, then the GeForce RTX 4070 is your cheapest option. If you don't care about ray tracing, then you can get a better value with the last-gen, high-end AMD Radeon cards.

The Thermaltake Toughpower GF3 adds not only 200W over the GF1 from the previous build, but also a native 16-pin GPU connector, which some RTX 4070 models use.

With two front 200mm fans, the Cooler Master Mastercase H500 will make sure that the system remains cool. More expensive versions of it include features like front USB-C and more flexible radiator support. Again, our best cases, best short cases and best old-school cases guides include more good options.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

The best gaming monitor for you depends on what games you play. For example, Gigabyte's M32U is arguably the best "standard" 4K gaming monitor, but if you want to play competitively at 360Hz, the 1080p BenQ Zowie XL2566K will serve you better. If you want HDR, or a different shape or resolution, you'll have many more options, so we suggest that you simply read our best gaming monitors or best HDR gaming monitors guide.

If you want to feel like you have a better mouse than the average person's, Logitech's wireless G604 Lightspeed is the one for you. Similarly, the Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical keyboard comes with an aluminum body and premium switches. Our best mice and keyboard guides include more options.

The Growable Workstation

* Workstation-like performance * Extreme multitasking * Hardcore gaming

This machine is great for any workload you can think about, from 4K video rendering to any kind of 3D modeling. It can also play games as well as the best gaming PCs if you equip it with a fast GPU. It's not cheap, but for what it can do, it's a really good value.

Component Product   Price
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 7950X   $586
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15   $110
Motherboard Asrock X670E Pro RS   $280
Memory 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4-6000 CL30   $275
Storage Seagate FireCuda 530 2TB   $205
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090   $1,600
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower GF3 1000W   $180
Case Fractal Design Define 7 XL   $230
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: Super Yamato by epsilon748

With 32 threads and 80MB of cache for less than $600, the Ryzen 9 7950X is the obvious choice for this system. It's not as efficient as its predecessor, though, so you'll need the best cooler you can find. We chose the Noctua NH-D15.

The Asrock X670E Pro RS offers great storage expandability with five M.2 slots and 6 SATA ports. If you want two or three PCIe 5.0 x 16 slots, you'll need to spend much more on the Asus ROG Strix, the Asrock Taichi or the MSI Ace. For future upgrades, we chose 64GB of RAM in just 2 sticks. You may be able to save some money with a higher latency of CL32 and the same 6000MHz speed.

The Seagate Firecuda 530 is the best PCIe 4.0 SSD for creators, with great sustained write speeds, 5 years of warranty, and 3 years of data recovery services. A 2TB drive should be sufficient for regular work unless you have very specific storage demands. An archive of all your work will probably be safer on external drives or on a NAS.

Choosing the best graphics card for this system greatly depends on the programs you'll be working with. We recommend that you search the web for relevant benchmarks before making your choice. In rare cases (Siemens NX is a prime example), professional Quadro and Radeon Pro graphics cards may justify their price with certain ease. With Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4090 selling near its MSRP these days, it may be the best option for you. You may want to consider cheaper alternatives like the RTX 4080 or Radeon 7900 XTX, although the 4090 is an absolute beast and the top GPU you can buy.

Our PSU recommendation could remain the same as the previous system's with the Toughpower GF3 850W, but if you do get the RTX 4090, you may prefer the 1000W version. For a case, we chose the Fractal Design Define 7 XL for its build quality, acoustic efficiency and versatility, including its two 5.25" external drive bays. As always, our best cases, best short cases and best old-school cases guides include more options.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

Some of the most comfortable and accurate mice and keyboards we use include the Logitech MX Master 3 mouse and MX Mechanical keyboard.

Choosing a monitor may be more complex. As with storage, you may have special needs and requirements for work. If you want to view your 3D models in great detail and comfort, Dell's Ultrasharp U3223QE is a great choice with its wide-gamut, 4K IPS panel.

If you edit 4K movies, though, the higher-end Ultrasharp UP3221Q uses Mini-LED for greatly improved contrast and qualifies for HDR 1000. It also has a true 10-bit panel, and can display colors that very few monitors can.

Masthead credit: Tuxedo by JMTsujioka