If you need a new computer, or just want to upgrade your old one, this thread is for you!
Building a PC can get very expensive, and many simply don't know enough about computers to make an informed decision on what to buy.
This thread aims to help those who are less tech savvy, or whose knowledge is simply out of date, get the best PC their budget allows.
Below you'll find several component categories, each with information you should know before deciding what to buy, and a small select list of quality parts that have been well reviewed on major online retailers such as Amazon, Newegg, etc.
At the very bottom there is also a list of PC builds for various budgets. Note that these are 'balanced' setups, and not necessarily the best for everyone within that budget.
(If you have any suggestions for parts or information to be included, let me know!)
What to know:
-Return policy; Do they accept open box returns, do they charge for returns, how long after purchase can returns be made?
-Where do they ship from? Shipping costs, taxes, and return policy can all be greatly affected by this.
USA: Amazon.com Newegg.com
Canada: Amazon.ca Newegg.ca memoryexpress.com
UK: Amazon.co.uk aria.co.uk scan.co.uk overclockers.co.uk
(Should probably only be used for quick price/compatibility overview. Not all retailers it links to are reliable) store.cablemod.com
(Custom order PC cables. any color, any length. Useful for building a PC with a clean interior / better airflow) nowinstock.net
(Cant find the newest GPU/CPU/etc. in stock anywhere? This site shows hour-by-hour who has stock) siliconlottery.com
(Offers CPU delidding service, for those who really care about CPU temps, but don't want to risk opening one themselves)
What to Know:
-Performance is generally measured in two parts; Single threaded, and multi-threaded.
-The better a CPUs single threaded performance, the better it'll be for physics simulation & most modeling tasks/tools.
-The better a CPUs multi-threaded performance, the better it'll be for rendering/baking/multitasking.
-Roughly speaking; The more GHz the better single threaded performance, and the more cores the better multi-threaded performance.
-CPUs can run faster by 'overclocking' them, but they will run hotter and need better cooling. 'Deliding' can significantly lower temps.
-Intel CPUs must have a 'K' or an 'X' at the end of their number to be overclockable (ex: i7-8700K).
-AMDs Ryzen CPUs are vastly superior to their FX series. Don't waste your money on an FX CPU.
-If rendering a lot, it's best to build a dedicated PC for it with as many cores as possible...
NOTE: All listed CPUs will work on an LGA 1151 Intel 300 series motherboard.
$??? - Intel i9-9900KS (8 core , 4.0~5.0 ghz turbo on all cores) (essentially a binned 9900K)
$500 - Intel i9-9900K (8 cores, 3.6~5.0ghz) (runs hot, water cooling recommended)
$420 - Intel i7-9700K (8 cores, 3.6~4.9ghz) (No hyper threading support!)
$430 - Intel i7-8086K (6 cores, 4.0~5.0ghz)
$380 - Intel i7-8700K (6 cores, 3.8~4.7ghz)
$280 - Intel i5-9600K (6 cores, 3.7~4.6ghz)
$260 - Intel i5-8600K (6 cores, 3.6~4.3ghz)
$750 - AMD Threadripper 2950X (16 cores, 3.5~4.4ghz) (Socket TR4 / X399 Chipset)
$750 - AMD R9 3950X (16 cores , 3.5~4.7ghz) (Socket AM4) (Release: September 2019)
$500 - AMD R9 3900X (12 cores , 3.8~4.6ghz) (Socket AM4)
$400 - AMD R7 3800X (8 cores , 3.9~4.5ghz) (Socket AM4)
$330 - AMD R7 3700X (8 cores , 3.6~4.4ghz) (Socket AM4)
$250 - AMD R7 2700X (8 cores , 3.7~4.3ghz)(Socket AM4)
$200 - AMD R5 2700 (8 cores , 3.7~4.1ghz) (Socket AM4)
What to know:
-Workstation GPUs; Have 10bit+ color support in OpenGL, and can have more VRAM, but generally not much faster.
-GPU-based rendering; Some renderers (like Octane) let you run multiple GPUs together for improved performance.
-Multi-GPU setups are limited only by your systems number of PCIe x16 slots and PCIe lanes (8x minimum per GPU).
-Multi-GPU setups do NOT improve viewport performance in modern 3D modeling apps like Max, Maya, Blender, etc.
-GPUs with 'blower' style coolers (default Geforce cooler, and some 3rd party ones) should be used for ITX cases.
-Large GPUs may sag due to weight, which can cause damage to the PCIe socket. If necessary, use a 'GPU brace' for extra support.
-GPUs creating high pitch noise ('coil whine') is common. Avoid putting your ears near it or risk permanent ear damage / hearing loss.
-NOTE: Blender tends to be faster with Radeon cards then Geforce.
$2500 - Geforce TITAN RTX, 24GB VRAM (almost identical to a 2080ti, just with more then double the VRAM)
$1200 - Geforce RTX 2080 Ti, 11GB VRAM
$800 - Geforce RTX 2080, 8GB VRAM
$700 - Geforce 1080 Ti, 11GB VRAM
$500 - Geforce RTX 2070, 8GB VRAM
$500 - Geforce 1080, 8GB VRAM
$450 - Geforce 1070 Ti, 8GB VRAM
$400 - Geforce 1070, 8GB VRAM
$350 - Geforce RTX 2060, 6GB VRAM (slightly faster then 1070 Ti, but with less VRAM)
$280 - Geforce 1660 Ti, 6GB VRAM (slightly faster then 1070, but less VRAM)
$220 - Geforce 1660, 6GB VRAM (minimum recommended spec)
$5400 - Radeon Vega Pro SSG, 16GB VRAM + 2TB of onboard NAND Flash memory
$700 - Radeon VII, 16GB VRAM (roughly between Geforce 2080 and 2080ti performance, faster then either in Blender though)
$??? - Radeon RX 5700X, 8GB VRAM (release in July 2019, with roughly Geforce RTX 2070 performance)
$500 - Radeon RX VEGA 64, 8GB VRAM (between Geforce 1070 and 1080 performance, but much higher power draw)
$400 - Radeon RX VEGA 56, 8GB VRAM (between Geforce 1070 and 1080 performance, but higher power draw)
$300 - Radeon RX 580, 8GB VRAM
Still good, but discontinued, GPUs:
$??? - Geforce TITAN V, 12GB VRAM (between Geforce 2080 and 2080ti performance, replaced by TITAN RTX)
$??? - Geforce TITAN XP, 12GB VRAM (roughly as fast as Geforce 1080ti , but far more expensive)
$??? - Geforce TITAN X, 12GB VRAM (2016 Pascal-based model. Performance just below 1080 Ti)
$??? - Geforce TITAN X, 12GB VRAM (2015 Maxwell-based model. 1070 performance, but with more VRAM)
$??? - Geforce 980ti, 6GB VRAM (About 1070 performance, but with less VRAM)
What to know:
-PCs meant for 3D art these days should have at least 16GB of RAM, and as high as 128GB if doing things like photogrammetry work.
-Depending on the motherboard, RAM sticks should be installed in sets of two (LGA 1150 / 1151, AM4), or sets of four (LGA 2011-3, TR4).
-Memory performance; "DDR4 3200 7-7-7-24", The 3200 is the max speed (higher is better), 7-7-7-24 is the latency (lower is better).
-RAM speed is limited by your CPU, for instance; i7 8700K = 2666 MHz, Ryzen 2700X = 2933 MHz, Ryzen 3900X = 3200 MHz
-If your RAM is rated for speeds higher then the limit set by your CPU, the RAM will need to be overclocked to reach those speeds.
-There is a special type of RAM known as ECC (error correcting code) which has improved reliability over standard RAM.
-ECC RAM is supported by all modern AMD CPUs, but Intel only supports it on specific workstation/enterprise CPUs and motherboards.
What to know:
-Most setups these days use an SSD for the OS, and a cheap mechanical drive for file storage.
-SSD's come in various shapes and sizes; 2.5 inch SATA drive, M.2 SATA drives, M.2 NVMe drives, and PCIe drives.
-Load times are generally very similar between SATA and NVMe SSDs, but NVMe is faster at reading/writing large files (such as videos).
-The general 'snappiness' of a PC is mostly determined by the SSDs random read/write speeds. Many cheaper SSDs are very bad at this.
-M.2 drives can be difficult to get working on any OS older then Windows8.
-Intel makes a special kind of M.2 disk cache called Optane which can improve HDD performance, but may actually slow it down with an SSD.
-For improved reliability, you can set up two drives in whats called a RAID1 array, where data is mirrored across both drives in case one fails.
-Mechanical drives live longer the less often they spin up / spin down. (i.e. "Turn off Hard Disk after" = Never)
-For data backup, you want a NAS (Network Attached Storage) which stores your data both locally and offsite (in case of fire/flood/etc.)
-For long-term data archiving, M-Discs are likely your best bet. They are special DVD / BR discs rated to last 1000 years by the US DoD.
M.2 SSD (NVMe):
$250 - Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB (4K random read/write speeds: 40-70MB/s / 90-220MB/s)
$125 - Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB (4K random read/write speeds: 40-65MB/s / 90-220MB/s)
2.5' SSD (SATA):
$120 - Samsung 860 EVO SSD 500GB (4K random read/write speeds: 25-50MB/s / 50-135MB/s)
$110 - Crucial MX500 2.5" 500GB (4K random read/write speeds: 20-40MB/s / 45-115MB/s)
What to know:
-The type of motherboard you need for your CPU depends on the socket and chipset it's designed for.
-Chipset/Socket examples; an i7-8700K needs an LGA 1151 300 series motherboard. A Ryzen CPU needs an AM4 socket motherboard.
-Almost all motherboards use Realtek audio, but some give it a different name for marketing purposes (ASUS's 'SpremeFX').
-Micro ATX and Mini ITX boards are all generally supported by
standard ATX Mid/Full PC towers, they don't need special towers.
-Thunderbolt 3 is a feature that piggybacks on USB ports, and via a
USB-C cable allows for sending data more quickly on supported devices.
-Thunderbolt 3 is only supported on Intel boards (AMD users are out of luck on this one).
-On ASUS boards the "Multi Core Enhancement" feature makes all CPU
cores run at max Turbo Boost speed, thus also increasing CPU temps.
-Windows 7 can still be installed to modern PCs, but may require specific motherboard settings or additional hardware+software.
-Recommendation: ASRock Taichi boards are the most universally well reviewed across all socket types right now, any one of them is good.
What to know:
-A 600 watt power supply is enough for the vast majority of desktop PCs, the main exception being if running high-spec GPUs in SLI.
-You should always use a surge protector. (preferably one where you can tell when it needs to be replaced, which they all do eventually).
-Be aware that power surges can come through your ethernet cable.
-A cheap/poor quality PSU can result in the early death of other components in your PC, as well as affect general stability/performance.
-"80 PLUS" ratings (Bronze, Gold, Platinum, etc.) measure efficiency, i.e. how much power is wasted. Higher rating = lower power bill.
-The wattage rating (ex: 650W) Is how much it can output to your system, not how much it will draw from the outlet at peak load.
-Do NOT mix and match / re-use cables between modular power supplies. Doing so could easily result in destroying your PC.
$250 - EVGA 220-T2-1000-X1 (1000W)
$190 - EVGA 220-T2-0850-X1 (850W)
$160 - EVGA 220-T2-0750-X1 (750W)
$250 - EVGA 220-P2-1000-XR (1000W)
$160 - SeaSonic SS-760XP2 ATX (760W)
$150 - CORSAIR AX760 (760W)
$120 - EVGA 220-G2-0750-XR (750W)
$110 - SeaSonic SS-650KM (650W)
What to Know:
-Air cooling is the cheapest and most reliable form of cooling.
-High end air coolers are massive. They wont fit in all ATX
cases, may block RAM sockets, and can damage the motherboard when PC
-Water cooling is best for those who intend to have their PC render for days at a time, or do overclocking.
-Water coolers can be bought pre-assembled (all-in-one/AIO), or built from individually chosen parts yourself (custom).
-"Closed loop" AIO water coolers are designed to never be refilled or
require maintenance. They are set-and-forget just like air coolers.
-Custom water coolers can perform much better then AIO coolers, but are expensive and require occasional maintenance.
-Water coolers if leak can destroy your PC.
-With a custom water cooling setup, mixing parts that use different metals (copper, aluminum, etc.) can result in galvanic corrosion.
-Thermal paste; Use no more then a grain of rice worth at a time for best results.
-Case fan size (120mm, 140mm, etc.) is measured from one screw to the next along the border, NOT diagonally.
-Case fan power connectors are universally compatible with all motherboards no matter if they have 4-pins (PVM), or 3-pins (FLX/ULN).
-Liquid LN2/CO2/LHe & Phase cooling; Only used for the most excessive of overclocks. Not viable as every day cooling solutions.
CPU Air Coolers (fans):
$99 - Noctua NH-U12A
$90 - Noctua NH-D15 (get the SE-AM4 version if using an AM4/Ryzen motherboard)
$80 - Noctua NH-D15S (fits better on X99 boards, but one fan less then regular NH-D15)
$90 - Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
$90 - Cryorig R1 Ultimate
$60 - Noctua NH-U12S (get the SE-AM4 version if using an AM4/Ryzen motherboard)
$35 - Cryorig H7
$30 - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
CPU Water Coolers (All-in-one):
$120 - NZXT Kraken X61
$110 - Corsair H100i v2 (requires a special bracket that's sold separate to work with AM4 systems)
$90 - Corsair H80i
$30 - Corsair ML
$20 - Noctua NF-S12A
$15 - Be Quiet! Silent Wings 2
AM4/Ryzen compatible Coolers:
$90 - Noctua NH-D15 (SE-AM4 version)
$60 - Noctua NH-U12S (SE-AM4 version)
TR4/Threadripper compatible coolers:
$80 - NH-U14S TR4-SP3
$70 - NH-U12S TR4-SP3
$70 - NH-U9 TR4-SP3
$8 - Arctic Silver 5
$8 - Arctic MX-4
What to check:
-Will it fit all the parts you've chosen? (i.e. be sure to check both the overall dimensions and internal layout)
-Does it have optical bays? (This is very important for some, and not at all for others)
-Is it designed with water cooling in mind?
-How good is the ventilation?
-Does it have sound dampening? (For many people, a noisy PC is annoying)
-Does it have both USB Type-A and Type-C ports at the front? Type-A is common, but Type-C is the new & increasingly popular standard.
Towers (optical bays):
$190 - Be Quiet! DarkBase 900
$130 - Corsair Carbide Series Air 540
$120 - Corsair Carbide Series 500R
$100 - Phanteks Enthoo Pro
$90 - Nanoxia Deep Silence 3
Towers (no optical bays):
$140 - CoolerMaster H500P
$120 - Phanteks Enthoo Evolv
$100 - NZXT H440
$90 - Phanteks Eclipse P400S
$90 - Fractal Design MESHIFY C
$80 - NZXT S340
$60 - Phanteks P300
Mini ITX cases:
$280 - DAN A4-SFX (upcoming competitor to NCASE M1. Only available through overclockers.co.uk)
$190 - NCASE M1 V5 (Community designed, funded via kickstarter. Only available through ncases.com)
$170 - IN WIN 901
What to know:
-Common Issues; back light bleeding, dead pixels, ghosting, yellow tinting.
-Screen types; IPS (best color accuracy), VA (best contrast but suffer from ghosting), and TN (fast response times, but worst color accuracy).
-Adobe RGB support is only important for print work. sRGB is all you need to care about for games/video.
-Panels can reproduce more colors the higher their bit depth. They generally come in 6, 8, and 10-bit variants.
-Manufacturers regularly lie about panel type / bit depth. Some 'IPS' panels are actually VA panels, some '8-bit' panels are 6-bit, etc.
-Only Quadro/FirePro GPUs support 10-bit with OpenGL.
-Avoid paying a lot for DVI-only monitors, as the standard is being phased out by GPU manufacturers in favor of HDMI and DisplayPort.
-Color calibration almost always has to be done by the user.
-For color calibration devices, if you have trouble using the included software, try this: displaycal.net
4K IPS screens (99% sRGB minimum)
$1100 - BenQ SW271 (27 inch. 99% Adobe RGB)
$550 - LG 27UK850-W (27 inch. 81% Adobe RGB)
1440P IPS screens (99% sRGB minimum)
$950 - NEC PA272W-BK (27 inch. 99% Adobe RGB)
$600 - BenQ SW2700PT (27 inch. 99% Adobe RGB)
$500 - ASUS PA279Q (27 inch. 99% Adobe RGB)
$330 - ASUS PB258Q (25 inch. 75% Adobe RGB)
$320 - ASUS MX MX25AQ (25 inch)
Tablet screens (1080p unless otherwise stated):
(NOTE: Wacom tablets are considered the best you can buy, cheaper alternatives are more likely to have build quality and/or driver issues)
$2,000 - Wacom Cintiq 27QHD (2560 x 1440)
$1,700 - Wacom Cintiq 22HD
$800 - Wacom Cintiq 13HD
$500 - Huion Kamvas GT-191
$300 - XP-Pen Artist 15.6
$330 - VEIKK VK1560
$360 - Gaomon PD1560
Color Calibration devices:
$90 - X-Rite ColorMunki Smile
$130 - Datacolor S5X100 Spyder5EXPRESS
What to know:
-Onboard audio has reached a point where it will be good enough for most people. But for everyone else...
-Years ago, for good audio quality, you would get a dedicated sound card (i.e. an internal DAC / Digital to analog convertor).
-These days, for good audio quality, you get an external DAC.
-Windows OS only requires drivers for a USB DAC if it can go above 96khz. Many DAC's avoid going over 96khz for this reason.
-Linux and MAC/iOS don't require a USB DAC to have drivers unless it goes above 192khz.
-CD audio is all 44.1khz, and iTunes/Spotify audio is all 44.1khz to 48khz (but not lossless unfortunately).
-For extra durability, get a DAC with a 6.3mm audio plug and use a 3.5mm adapter if needed (6.3mm plugs are FAR more durable).
-If you want to convert analog to digital (that is, to record audio), look into getting an external "Audio Interface".
External DAC's (Outlet power):
$500 - Denon DA-300USB (192khz / 6.3mm)
$280 - AUNE X1s (192khz / 6.3mm)
$270 - Mayflower Objective 2 + ODAC Rev. B (96kHz / 3.5mm)
$110 - Micca OriGen+ (192kHz / 6.3mm + 3.5mm)
External DAC's (USB power):
$290 - Apogee GROOVE (192khz / 3.5mm)
$200 - AudioQuest DragonFly Red (96khz / 3.5mm)
$170 - Audioengine D1 (96khz / 3.5mm)
$150 - Audioengine D3 (96khz / 3.5mm)
$150 - JDS Standalone ODAC Rev B (96kHz / 3.5mm)
$100 - AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 (96khz / 3.5mm)
$60 - Zorloo ZuperDAC (192khz / 3.5mm)
What to know:
-CPU speed; Intel laptop CPUs are much slower then their desktop variant of the same number (ex: 6700HQ is 40% slower then a 6700K).
-CPU types; You can get laptops with desktop CPUs, but they use more power, and generate far more heat shortening the laptops lifespan.
-GPU speed; Pascal-based NVIDIA GPUs have near identical performance on both desktops and laptops. atm, AMD is not competative here.
-GPU upgrades; Limited to your existing GPUs generation (ex: 1060>1080), but laptops w/Thunderbolt3 can use external desktop GPUs.
-RAM; Most laptops max out at 16GB of RAM, but for modern 3D workloads it's recommended to get one that can handle 32GB or more.
-Storage; Avoid mechanical drives on laptops as they use more power then SSDs, and are slower + more damage prone then on desktops.
-Screen; You'll want 1920x1080 or better, and IPS for color accuracy. Touch screens are normally only available on slower laptops.
-Screen vs battery; G-Sync/120hz screens can't switch to an integrated GPU so battery life is much worse for web browsing and such.
-Keyboard; Many laptop keyboards lack the right side 'number pad', but some 3D apps (such as Blender) use it extensively.
-Ports; You'll likely want 2+ USB-A ports, a USB-C port w/Thunderbolt 3 support, an ethernet port, HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone/mic jacks.
-Cooling; A cooling pad is recommended to increase the lifespan of your laptop, especially if regularly maxing out the CPU/GPU.
-Battery; Extend battery life by lowering recharge threshold (ex: only perform full rechange when charge goes below 60%).
-Theft/Recovery; Keep the serial number for police in case the laptop is stolen. An internet tracking app can also help them.
----------Suggested Desktop PC setups----------
CPU: Ryzen 5 2700X (comes with cooler)
GPU: Geforce GTX 1080ti 11GB -or- Geforce RTX 2080 8GB -or- Radeon VII 16GB
RAM: 64GB (4x 16GB)
SSD: 1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus
MOBO: ASUS B450-F Gaming ATX
Tower: Fractal Design Meshify C
Power: Seasonic FOCUS Plus (750W, Gold rated)Budget: $1400
CPU: Ryzen 5 2600X (comes with cooler)Budget: $750
GPU: Geforce RTX 2070
RAM: 32GB (2x 16GB)
SSD: 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus
MOBO: ASUS B450-F Gaming ATX
Tower: Fractal Design Meshify C
Power: Seasonic FOCUS Plus (750W, Gold rated)
CPU: AMD R3 1600 (comes with cooler)
GPU: Geforce GTX 1660 6GB
RAM: 16GB (2x 8gb)
SSD: 256GB Crucial MX500
MOBO: ASRock AB350M Pro4
Tower: Deepcool TESSERACT BF
Power: Corsair CXM (550W, Bronze Rated)