What to Expect from Each Budget
Naturally, your budget and your needs will determine which build you choose and it may even be practical to mix and match between them depending on your situation.
When it comes to application performance such as Excel, 7-zip and Photoshop, we saw a steady increase in performance as the systems increased in price. The performance gains didn't match the extra cost of each system but that was to be expected.
The core components of the Enthusiast's PC costs 77% more than the Entry-Level Rig for example but we only saw a 46% improvement in 7-zip, though there was 69% more performance to be had in Excel and 72% in Photoshop.
Going from the Enthusiast's PC to the Luxury System costs 80% more, but we did see a 72% gain in Photoshop CC, 59% in Excel and 49% in 7-Zip.
Where things get out of control is when we go from the Luxury System to the Extreme Machine, which brings a 157% premium. For that you get 39% more performance in Photoshop CC, 61% more in Excel and 68% in 7-Zip.
Up until the Extreme Machine you can expect a reasonable increase in performance for the extra money. Professionals will likely have their eye on this build's amazing Photoshop CC and Excel workload completion times while overlooking the fact that it isn't the best value.
When it comes to gaming, the Entry-Level Rig provides the best bang for your buck, delivering highly playable 1080p performance. That said, the Budget Box armed with the R7 260X is also a cost effective option. For big screen gaming, the Luxury System should have your attention as the GTX 980/Dell UltraSharp U3014 30" is hard to beat right now.
Obviously the Extreme Machine's UltraSharp UP3214Q 32" and dual-GTX Titan X SLI setup delivered exceptional 4K gaming performance, but we couldn't really tell the difference between the Luxury and Extreme builds quality-wise when gaming and for general usage we much prefer the 2560x1600 monitor in Windows 8.1.
If you were still uncertain about where to spend your money after reading our PC buying guide, these performance numbers should help clear things up. As always, whether you're stuck on buying, building or booting your new system, we have a forum for that.