How has the PC market evolved in the past few months?

For gamers and mainstream users, not much has happened: Intel's 14th-gen Core CPUs hardly deserve to be called a new generation. The mainstream graphics segment has seen one disappointment after another, with cards that are barely faster than their years-old predecessors. SSD and memory prices have reached a plateau. But, on the bright side, six months ago was a great time to build a PC and now it is, too.

For pro content creators, AMD has recreated the high-end desktop (HEDT) market with the Threadripper 7000 series, featuring up to 128 threads, quad-channel memory support and 48 direct PCIe 5.0 lanes for the "non Pro" models. Granted, the new CPUs cost a lot more per core, not to mention the requirement for more expensive motherboards and registered memory. PCIe 5.0 drives have also started to hit the market, but with current flash density and cooling solutions they aren't much faster than the best PCIe 4.0 drives in sustained workloads. For now, the Ryzen 9 7900 series remains the best value for core-heavy tasks.

As usual, the TechSpot PC Buying Guide includes four component lists and builds with recommendations for different budgets and purposes...

The Utility Box $400

* 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 $1,600

* High-end performance * Heavy multitasking * Hardcore gaming

The Growable Workstation $2,600

* Workstation-like performance * Extreme multitasking * Hardcore gaming

Our recommendations are influenced by availability and pricing at the time of writing. If a component from the list that you are considering is unavailable or becomes significantly more expensive, 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   $122
Motherboard MSI Pro B550M-VDH   $109
Memory 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200+ CL16   $32
Storage Crucial T500 1TB   $85
Graphics Integrated   $0
PSU Thermaltake Smart 500W   $40
Case Fractal Design Focus G Mini   $55
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: Micro-ATX for Minecraft by hamchuck

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is a great deal at $122, 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 integrated graphics, it may also be important for the motherboard to have both DisplayPort and HDMI ports for monitor compatibility. The MSI Pro B550M-VDH offers decent thermal performance, four memory slots, and two M.2 slots for storage. The full-sized Pro B550-A adds USB-C and much more impressive heatsinks for about $30 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. Even without PCIe 4.0 support on the CPU, the Crucial T500 is one of the best SSDs, saturating the PCIe 3.0 interface in short file transfers.

The Thermaltake Smart is our budget PSU recommendation, with ratings of 500W and 80 Plus efficiency, and 5-year warranty.

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 $13 less.

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. The Philips 288E2E offers a 28" 4K display with true 8-bit color (10-bit with FRC), full sRGB and NTSC color coverage, a height-adjustable stand and four years of part replacement services for $225. More options for different budgets can be found in our best monitors feature.

Logitech's new ergonomic MK670 is our recommended keyboard and mouse combo at this price point. For more options, see our lists of top 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   $199
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black   $40
Motherboard Gigabyte B650M DS3H   $140
Memory 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL30   $96
Storage Crucial T500 2TB   $140
Graphics AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT   $330
PSU Corsair CX650M   $65
Case NZXT H5 Flow   $95
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: September Upgrade by turtletime445

The Ryzen 5 7600 is the most affordable Zen 4 CPU, packs 12 threads, and is not far in gaming performance from the very 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 Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black 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 Samsung 990 Pro is one of the best SSDs on the market, with bus-saturating PCIe 4.0 performance, efficient operation and Full Power Mode, which may become valuable once PC games start using DirectStorage. These days, it's not much more expensive than older PCIe 4.0 drives such as the Samsung 980 Pro.

The Radeon RX 6600 is the most affordable GPU we'd recommend buying new, unless the Intel Arc A580 is significantly cheaper in your region. Don't waste your time or money on the Radeon RX 6500 XT which is a laptop GPU in disguise, and as you go down the sub-$150 segment things only get 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 though. Thanks to recent discounts, the Radeon RX 6700 XT is a good upgrade option. For an extra 60% over the RX 6600, you get 50% more performance and 50% more VRAM, which will help it age better than in-between options such as the RX 7600.

The Corsair CX650M has all of the essential features for a gaming system, including ratings of 650W and 80 Plus Bronze efficiency, a semi-modular design for detaching the cables you won't need, and a 5-year warranty. The case we chose for this build is the NZXT H5 Flow, the successor of the 510 Flow, 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 a shorter case like the 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. Our best cases guide includes more solid options for under $100.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

The Radeon 6700 XT is capable of 1440p gaming at 60 fps with high settings, and 120, or even 240 fps with lower settings or in less-demanding games. The MSI G274QPX will let you do all of that on a 27" IPS display for a fair 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 new Logitech G502 X 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 the K65 RGB Mini. 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 1440p and 4K resolutions makes sense, and this build will let you do just that.

Component Product   Price
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D   $395
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black   $40
Motherboard Gigabyte B650 Aorus Elite AX   $199
Memory 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL30   $96
Storage Samsung 990 Pro 2TB   $180
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Super   $600
PSU Corsair RM750e   $100
Case Cooler Master MasterCase H500M   $100
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: My latest build by mattw8489

AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D is one of the best gaming processors and 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 least expensive option for this kind of build. If you don't care about ray tracing, then you can get a better value with AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT. You can get even better performance with the newer RTX 4070 Super, which is our top pick for this kind of build offering 20% more performance for an extra $50-60. The next bump to consider would be the Radeon RX 7900 XT, but the price difference is not justified for most unless you want more raw horsepower and are willing to pay for it.

The Corsair RM750e PSU provides 750W at 80 Plus Gold-level efficiency, a 7-year warranty, a fully modular design, and a native 16-pin GPU connector, which some RTX 4070 models require.

With two front 200mm fans, the Cooler Master Mastercase H500M will make sure that the system remains cool. It features five USB ports on the front, including Type-C, and 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 will depend on the games you play. For example, the LG 32GR93U is arguably the best 4K gaming monitor, but if you want to play competitively at 540Hz (a niche use case), the 1080p Asus ROG Swift Pro PG248QP 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 guide.

If you want to feel like you have a better mouse than the average person's, Logitech's wireless 502 X Plus 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   $531
CPU Cooler Thermalright Frost Commander   $35
Motherboard Asrock X670E Pro RS   $250
Memory 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4-6000 CL30   $195
Storage Seagate FireCuda 530 2TB   $150
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080   $1,100
PSU MSI MPG A850G   $127
Case Fractal Design Define 7 XL   $225
  Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)    
Core System Total

Image credit: Super Yamato by epsilon748

With 32 threads and 80MB of cache for less than $550, the Ryzen 9 7950X is the obvious choice for this system. It's not overly efficient though, so you'll need the best cooler you can find. We like the incredibly-priced Thermalright Frost Commander.

The Asrock X670E Pro RS offers great storage expandability with five M.2 slots and six SATA ports. If you want two or three PCIe 5.0 x 16 slots, you'll need to spend much more on the Asus ProArt, the Asrock Taichi or the MSI Ace. For future upgrades, we chose 64GB of RAM in just two sticks.

The Seagate Firecuda 530 is the best PCIe 4.0 SSD for creators, with great sustained write speeds, five years of warranty, and three 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 RTX A-series and Radeon Pro graphics cards may justify their price with certain ease. With Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4090 selling nowhere near its MSRP these days, 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.

The MSI MPG A850G offers everything the Corsair RM750e in the previous system does, plus 100W and an even longer 10-year warranty, 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.

As with storage, choosing a monitor will depend if you 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 Asus ProArt PA32DC uses an OLED panel for greatly improved contrast and qualifies for HDR 400 True Black. It also has a true 10-bit panel, and can display colors that very few monitors can.

Masthead credit: Tuxedo by JMTsujioka